Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday (dominica in Latin), 3 November 1493. In the hundred years after Columbus's landing, Dominica remained isolated, and even more Caribs settled there after being driven from surrounding islands as European powers entered the region. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to Great Britain in 1763. Great Britain then established a small colony on the island in 1805.
The emancipation of African slaves occurred throughout the British Empire in 1834, and, in 1838, Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a legislature controlled by an African majority. In 1896, the United Kingdom reassumed governmental control of Dominica, turning it into a Crown colony. Half a century later, from 1958 to 1962, Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation. On 3 November 1978, Dominica became an independent nation.On this day in 1978, Dominica gained independence from Britain as it became a member of the Commonwealth. It is celebrated as a national holiday for three days, including November 3.