An island in the lesser antilles, one of the windward islands. Its capital is fort-de-france. It was discovered by columbus in 1502 and from its settlement in 1635 by the french it passed into and out of dutch and british hands. It was made a french overseas department in 1946. One account of the name tells of native women on the shore calling madinina as columbus approached the island. The meaning was never discovered but was entered on early charts as martinique, influenced by the name of st. Martin.