General issues: French colony 1886-1946, French overseas department 1946-1947
Country name on general issues: MQE, Martinique
Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1886-1947
Population: 203 000 in 1901, 386 000 in 2013
Political history Martinique
Martinique is an island located in the Caribbean as part of the Lesser Antilles – for the exact location, please refer to the map of the Caribbean. Prior to colonization the island was inhabited the Amerindian Carib people – a people found on many of the Lesser Antilles. The first European to sight and chart the island was Christopher Columbus in 1493. The French established a permanent settlement on Martinique in 1635. The island was initially administered by chartered companies, but in 1674 the administration was transferred to the French crown. In the 18th and early 19th centuries Martinique was occupied by the British a number of times. In 1815 – effective 1816 – French sovereignty over the islands was permanently restored. During WWII, Martinique sided with the Vichy regime in France – the Vichy regime, that collaborated with Germany. The Free French, led by Charles de Gaulle, take control of Martinique in 1943. When the French Empire was reorganized in 1946, the colony of Martinique became a French overseas department. In 2003, Martinique became a French overseas region. As such, Martinique is part of the European Union and, currently, uses the Euro as its currency.
From the first permanent settlement, Martinique was developed as a plantations colony – the most important cash crop being sugar cane. To man the plantations, slaves were brought to the islands – slaves that would soon outnumber the population of European descent. Currently, tourism is the main source of income for Martinique. With 93%, blacks and people of mixed black and white descent form the majority of the population. Whites of European – mostly French – descent account for 5% of the population.
Postal history Martinique
The first stamps used in Martinique are the general issues of France from 1851 and the general issues for the French colonies from 1859. The first stamps for specific use in Martinique appear in 1886 – overprints on the issues for the French colonies reading ‘Martinique’ or ‘MQE’ and a new face value. More provisionals follow until the first definitives are issued in 1892 – stamps of the common ‘Navigation & Commerce’ design, inscribed ‘Martinique’. In the classical period several large sets of pictorials are issued. Furthermore, Martinique takes part in several of the ‘Grand Series’Omnibus issues for the French colonies. In 1941, stamps were prepared by the Vichy regime in France for use on Martinique. As these were never put on sale, only the mint versions are listed. The last stamps for Martinique are issued in 1947. Since then, Martinique has used the stamps of metropolitan France.