Martinique is an overseas department and collectivity of France in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is situated north of Saint Lucia, south of Dominica, and northwest of Barbados. Covering a land area of 1,128 square kilometers, the department is the 3rd-largest island in the region. It is also an Outermost Region of the European Union.
Initially, the collectivity’s economy was dependent on agriculture, producing sugar and bananas. However, the production of sugar has decreased at the dawn of the 21st century while banana exports have incremented, most of which is supplied to mainland France. Before the Chlordecone was banned in 1993, Martinique’s farming ground has been poisoned. The pesticide used for banana farming has also contaminated rivers and fish. Meat, grain, and vegetable had to be imported as farming and fishing in infected areas were stopped, resulting in a long-term trade deficit.
As a territory of the European Union, Martinique’s official currency is the euro. Prior to that, the Martinique franc, subdivided into 100 centimes, was used until 2002. The first notes were “Bons de Caisse” or cash vouchers issued by the Colonial Treasury in 1855 in denominations of 1 and 5, followed by 2 and 10 francs that were released in 1884. The next set of notes was introduced by the Bank of Martinique starting in 1874. These were 1, 5, 2, 25, 100, and 500 francs. These were designed by Guillaume Alphonse Cabasson.
On February 2, 1944, the Central Bank of Overseas France was established and issued notes for French Guinea, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. These notes featured the national emblem of the French Republic depicting an in-profile image of Marianne wearing a Phrygian cap and flanked by anchors with the cross of Lorraine. In 1963, the Institute for Emissions in the Overseas Departments was formed and took over the production and issuance of banknotes. It issued 10 and 50 nouveaux francs paper bills, followed by the 5, 10, 50, and 100 francs notes in 1964, dropping the word nouveaux.