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They were largely displaced, exterminated and assimilated by the Taino, who were resident on the island in the 1490s.
Martinique was charted by Columbus in 1493, but Spain had little interest in the territory.
) is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 385,551 inhabitants as of January 2013.
Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department.
As sugar prices declined in the early 1800s, the planter class lost political influence.
In 1848, Victor Schoelcher persuaded the French government to end slavery in the French West Indies.
From September 1686 to early 1688, the French crown used Martinique as a threat and a dumping ground for mainland Huguenots who refused to reconvert to Catholicism.
Over 1,000 Huguenots were transported to Martinique during this period, usually under miserable and crowded ship conditions that caused many of them to die en route.
In Martinique the only survivor in the town of Saint-Pierre, Auguste Cyparis, was saved by the thick walls of his prison cell.
As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro.
The official language is French, and virtually the entire population also speaks Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais).
One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast of Greater Antilles, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.
As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the eighteen regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the République française (French Republic).