Dominica is officially known as the Commonwealth of Dominica. It was colonised by the French in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who imported enslaved people from West Africa to work on the coffee plantations. It was ceded to Britain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris, recaptured by the French in 1778 and restored to British control in 1784. In 1871 it was incorporated into the British Leeward Islands and became a crown colony in 1896. Dominica was unusual among British Caribbean territories in gaining its independence in 1978 as a member of the Commonwealth with a republican constitution rather than as a realm. Current population c. 72,000.