is the capital city of
and has many restaurants, small shops and wonderful views of the mountains (to the east) and the Caribbean Sea (to the west).
It is on the west (leeward) coast of Dominica and has a combination of modern and colonial French architecture.
Roseau is Dominica's most important port for foreign trade. Some exports include bananas, bay oil, vegetables, grapefruit, oranges, cocoa, off-road vehicles, and snowmobiles. The service sector is also a large part of the local economy.
There is a prominent diocese called Roman Catholic Diocese of Roseau.
The city of Roseau sits on an alluvial fan formed hundreds of years ago as the Roseau River meandered across the area from what is now known as Newtown to its current location. Over the last 2,000 years, Amerindians migrating through the islands settled the area attracted by the nearby river. With the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, a small settlement was established by the French who, in their tradition of naming places after what they found there, used their name for the river reeds that grew along the banks. A plan was created for the settlement that mirrored examples in France where streets extended from a central point — what is today the Old Market — and spread out to the rest of the settlement.
Conflict raged between the French and the British over the area on several occasions. The British gained a stronghold. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they set out plans for the city that included fortifications and government structures, the grid street system, and blocks and new urban areas to the north and south, known today as Potter's Ville and Newtown. Goodwill was established in the 1950s and Bath Estate in the early 1980s. Since then several new semi-urban settlements — such as Stock Farm, Castle Comfort, and Wall House — have been constructed around the existing ones. Some older settlements like Fond Cole and Canefield nowadays belong to the semi-urban area around Roseau.
The French influence can still be seen today, however, in its architecture and crooked streets that extend from the Old Market Plaza. Examples of English influence is evident in architecture and street names.
The central district of Roseau is tightly packed with small and large houses and even larger modern concrete structures. There is little green or open space in the city; there is even less today, as many of the courtyards that were once commonplace are giving way to office space. The district is, however, framed in every direction by natural elements. The sea and the river provide water elements while the Botanical Gardens and the Government House gardens frame the city with green space. These elements are rare in the Caribbean. No other center in the region has such extensive botanical gardens with such central location, and the Roseau River is among the largest that flow through any Caribbean capital.
The urban structure of Central Roseau is based on an irregular grid system of miniature proportions, making it a highly illegible city. Even though the grid area is not extensive, it is relatively easy for a visitor to get lost. The grid area has some 80 blocks in an area of 30 hectares (74 acres). In comparison, the grid areas of Kingstown and Castries — capitals of Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia — have some 50 and 60 blocks in the areas of over 40 ha (99 acre). The average block size in Central Roseau is thus some ⅓ hectare (1 acre), i.e., about half of the figure of Central Kingstown.
There are some fine examples of West Indian architecture in Roseau. The ones that stand out the most are the French Colonial style and the vernacular form. Much of the French influence can be found along King George V Street. Around the city, there are good examples of the English influence in large colonial townhouses and colonial public/government buildings.
The churches in Roseau are fine examples of Europe in Dominica with a bit of creolization. The Roman Catholic Cathedral stands prominent in Gothic-Romanesque revival and the Anglican Church on Victoria Street in the Georgian style.
Because of the suburban sprawl, few people live in Central Roseau, but more of them commute daily. Motorized vehicles pour into the central district introducing a mode of point-to-point interaction in an environment that was created for multiple uses. As elders said, first there were no streets but just a space between the buildings. The streets of Roseau, and especially those of its central district, are not only ways to move from place to place but they are places themselves. They are used as gardens, playing fields, and social meeting places.
The Botanical Gardens on the fringes of the central district are mostly used by children.
Climate and scenery
Roseau's nearby scenery (mostly in its so-called valley) includes Boiling Lake, 10.5 km (6.5 mi) east, in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, waterfalls, thermal springs, and scenic plateaus.
Morne Bruce provides panoramic views of most of downtown Roseau and north toward Woodbridge Bay deepwater port and Fond Cole. From Morne Bruce, there are views of the Botanic Gardens at its base as well as the Caribbean Sea which look quite spectacular when cruise liners are in port.
Roseau's climate is a tropical rainforest climate, featuring relatively constant temperatures throughout the year with average high temperatures generally between 28 and 31 °C (82 and 88 °F) and average low temperatures between 19 and 23 °C (66 and 73 °F). Rainfall is common throughout the year, with the city seeing an annual average nearly 2,000 mm (79 in). Roseau features a noticeably drier stretch from February through April, though each of these months on average sees at least 100 mm (4 in) of precipitation.