The former capital of Martinique,
, was known as the Paris of the Antilles. Even though St. Pierre was destroyed in the 1902 eruption of
, Martinique’s reputation as a second France still remains. French is the official language of the island, and newspapers and literature of Martinique are usually in French. Like its mother country, Martinique is proud of its art, fashion and cultural museums.
However, Martinique has a distinct Creole culture that many islanders identify with more than they do with French culture. The Creole language, a blending of French, Spanish, Portuguese and Caribbean patois, is spoken commonly in Martinique, and is an important part of the island’s rich oral tradition. Since Creole is spoken throughout the West Indies, a unique Caribbean culture has evolved around it.
In the late 1920s, Martinican poet Aimé Césaire spearheaded a cultural movement called Negritude, the effects of which still reverberate today. Negritude aimed to reclaim the African influences that had prevailed in the Caribbean before France assumed political control of Martinique. Césaire’s movement resulted in a flowering of Martinican literature, music, dance and art, and legitimized Creole culture as more than a fading spoken language. Césaire also served as the mayor of Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, cementing his position as a national hero.