The 1981 census recorded a population of 73,795, a 6-percent
increase over the figure registered in 1970. Mid-1985 estimates
placed the total at 77,400. Crude birth rates per 1,000 population
increased from 22 in 1980 to 24.3 in 1983 but decreased to 21.3 in
1984. Crude death rates per 1,000 population increased slightly
from 4.7 in 1980 to 5.5 in 1983 and 1984. The rate of natural
increase, which was a low 1.3 percent in 1980 following a large
out-migration after Hurricane David, showed a slight increase to
1.8 percent in 1981 and 1982, 1.9 percent in 1983, and 1.6 percent
in 1984. The migration rate per 1,000 population fluctuated from a
net increase of 5.5 in 1980, to 25.7 in 1982, a negative 13.3 in
1983, and a net increase of 5.9 in 1984. Life expectancy at birth
was 76.7 years in 1984.
Comparisons between the 1970 and 1981 censuses suggested an
increasingly older Dominican population. Islanders under age 15
declined from 49 to 40 percent; by contrast, the 15- to 64-year age
group increased from 45 to 53 percent. Those 65 years of age and
over increased from 6 to 7 percent. The Pan American Health
Organization (PAHO) projected that these trends would continue
through at least the early 1990s.
Settlement patterns in Dominica have been affected by the
island's physical features. In the 1980s, the population was
dispersed into fifty or more villages, towns, and hamlets, most of
them along the coast. Despite this general pattern, almost 36
percent of the population in 1981 resided in the parish of St.
George, where the capital city of Roseau is located.
Descendants of African slaves comprised the overwhelming
majority of the population. Aside from Caribs, an estimated 3
percent of the population, there were no other significant ethnic
clusters. The ethnic, racial, and cultural composition of the
society in the 1980s reflected Carib, French, British, and African
influences. This diverse historical legacy was expressed in many
ways. It could be seen in Carib art; Roman Catholicism and the
French language; British law, politics, education, language, and
trade links; and a predominantly black population, work force,
electorate, and leadership.
In the 1981 census, approximately 92 percent of the population
identified itself as Christian. Of this group, Roman Catholics
comprised 83 percent; Methodists, 5.3 percent; Seventh Day
Adventists, 3.5 percent; Pentecostals, 3.2 percent; Baptists, 2.6
percent; Anglicans, 0.9 percent; members of the Church of God, 0.8
percent, and Jehovah's Witnesses, 0.7 percent. The remaining 8
percent of the population was divided between those who adhered to
a variety of minor denominations and those who claimed no religion.
The Christian make-up of the island was not surprising given the
history of colonization first by France and later Britain. Both
countries were as intent on converting the Caribs and African
slaves to Christianity as they were on conquering the island for
their respective monarchs.
Data as of November 1987