Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe is an insular region of France located in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Administratively, it is an overseas region consisting of a single overseas department. With a land area of 1,628 square kilometres (629 square miles) and an estimated population of 400,132 as of January 2015, it is the largest and most populous European Union territory in North America.

Guadeloupe’s two main islands are Basse-Terre to the west and Grande-Terre to the east, which are separated by a narrow strait that is crossed with bridges. They are often referred to as a single island. The department also includes the Dependencies of Guadeloupe, which include the smaller islands of Marie-Galante and La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes.

Guadeloupe, like the other overseas departments, is an integral part of France. As a constituent territory of the European Union and the Eurozone, the euro[4] is its official currency and any European Union citizen is free to settle and work there indefinitely. As an overseas department, however, it is not part of the Schengen Area.
The prefecture (regional capital) of Guadeloupe is the city of Basse-Terre, which lies on the island of the same name. The official language is French and Antillean Creole is spoken virtually by the entire population except recent arrivals from metropolitan France.

Christopher Columbus named the island Santa María de Guadalupe in 1493 after the Virgin Mary, venerated in the Spanish town of Guadalupe, in Extremadura. Upon becoming a French colony, the Spanish name was retained though altered to French orthography and phonology.


 

History of Guadeloupe

The island was called “Karukera” (or “The Island of Beautiful Waters”) by the Arawak people, who settled on there in 300 AD/CE. During the 8th century, the Caribs came and killed the existing population of Amerindians on the island.

During his second trip to the Americas, in November 1493, Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Guadeloupe, while seeking fresh water. He called it Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, after the image of the Virgin Mary venerated at the Spanish monastery of Villuercas, in Guadalupe, Extremadura. The expedition set ashore just south of Capesterre, but left no settlers behind.

Columbus is credited with discovering the pineapple on the island of Guadeloupe in 1493, although the fruit had long been grown in South America. He called it piña de Indias, which can be correctly translated as “pine cone of the Indies.”

During the 17th century, the Caribs fought against the Spanish settlers and repelled them.

After successful settlement on the island of St. Christophe (St. Kitts), the French Company of the American Islands delegated Charles Lienard (Liénard de L’Olive) and Jean Duplessis Ossonville, Lord of Ossonville to colonize one or any of the region’s islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Dominica.

Due to Martinique’s inhospitable nature, the duo resolved to settle in Guadeloupe in 1635, took possession of the island, and wiped out many of the Carib Amerindians. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1674.

Over the next century, the British seized the island several times. The economy benefited from the lucrative sugar trade, which commenced during the closing decades of the 17th century. Guadeloupe produced more sugar than all the British islands combined, worth about £6 million a year. The British captured Guadeloupe in 1759. The British government decided that Canada was strategically more important and kept Canada while returning Guadeloupe to France in the Treaty of Paris (1763) that ended the Seven Years War.

In 1790, following the outbreak of the French Revolution, the monarchists of Guadeloupe refused to obey the new laws of equal rights for the free people of color and attempted to declare independence. The ensuing conflict with the republicans, who were faithful to revolutionary France, caused a fire to break out in Pointe-à-Pitre that devastated a third of the town.
The monarchists ultimately overcame the republicans and declared independence in 1791. The monarchists then refused to receive the new governor that Paris had appointed in 1792.
In 1793, a slave rebellion broke out, which made the upper classes turn to the British and ask them to occupy the island.

In an effort to take advantage of the chaos ensuing from the French Revolution, Britain seized Guadeloupe in 1794, holding control from 21 April until December 1794, when republican governor Victor Hugues obliged the British general to surrender. Hugues succeeded in freeing the slaves, who then turned on the slave owners who controlled the sugar plantations.

In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte issued the Law of 20 May 1802. It restored slavery to all colonies the British had captured during the French Revolutionary Wars—but did not apply to certain French overseas possessions, such as Guadeloupe, Guyane, and Saint-Domingue. Napoleon sent an expeditionary force to recapture the island from the rebellious slaves. Louis Delgrès and a group of revolutionary soldiers killed themselves on the slopes of the Matouba volcano when it became obvious that the invading troops would take control of the island. The occupation force killed approximately 10,000 Guadeloupeans.

On 4 February 1810 the British once again seized the island and continued to occupy it until 1816. By the Anglo-Swedish alliance of 3 March 1813, Britain ceded it to Sweden for a brief period of 15 months. During this time, the British administration remained in place and British governors continued to govern the island.

In the Treaty of Paris of 1814, Sweden ceded Guadeloupe once more to France. An ensuing settlement between Sweden and the British gave rise to the Guadeloupe Fund. The Treaty of Vienna in 1815 definitively acknowledged French control of Guadeloupe.

An earthquake in 1843 caused the La Soufrière volcano to erupt and killed over 5000 people.

Slavery was finally abolished on the island (and in all French possessions) on 28 May 1848 at the initiative of Victor Schoelcher.

Guadeloupe lost 12,000 of its 150,000 residents in the cholera epidemic of 1865–66.

The colonial history of Guadeloupe has been addressed in research publications.

20th Century

In 1925, after the trial of Henry Sidambarom (Justice of the Peace and defender of the cause of Indian workers), Raymond Poincaré decided to grant French nationality and the right to vote to Indian citizens.

In 1946, the colony of Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France. Then in 1974, it became an administrative center. Its deputies sit in the French National Assembly in Paris.

In 1967, rallies became riots, and repression backed by the prefect Pierre Bolotte caused dozens of deaths.

21st Century

In 2007 the island communes of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy were officially detached from Guadeloupe and became two separate French overseas collectivities with their own local administration. Their combined population was 35,930 and their combined land area was 74.2 km2 (28.6 sq mi) as of the 1999 census.

In January 2009, an umbrella group of approximately fifty labour union and other associations (known in the local Antillean Creole as the Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon (LKP), led by Élie Domota) called for a €200 ($260 USD) monthly pay increase for the island’s low income workers.
The protesters have proposed that authorities “lower business taxes as a top up to company finances” to pay for the €200 pay raises. Employers and business leaders in Guadeloupe have said that they cannot afford the salary increase. The strike lasted 44 days, ending with an accord reached on 5 March 2009. Tourism suffered greatly during this time and affected the 2010 tourist season as well. The 2009 French Caribbean general strikes exposed deep ethnic, racial, and class tensions and disparities within Guadeloupe.


 

Geography

Located as the southernmost of the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea, Guadeloupe comprises two main islands: Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre, which are separated by a narrow sea channel called Salt River. The adjacent French islands of La Désirade, Les Saintes, and Marie-Galante are under jurisdiction of Guadeloupe.

Western Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief while eastern Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains.[ambiguous] La Grande Soufrière is the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles, with an elevation of 1,467 metres (4,813 feet).

Further to the north, Saint-Barthélemy and the northern French part of Saint Martin were previously under the jurisdiction of Guadeloupe but on 7 December 2003, both of these areas voted to become overseas territorial collectivities separate from Guadeloupe, a decision that took effect on 22 February 2007.

Volcanoes

There is an active volcano in Guadeloupe called “La Soufrière,” located in the South of Basse-Terre. La Soufrière is actually a part of a volcanic complex that is composed of the Carmichael volcanoes, the Nez Cassé, the Echelle, the Cistern and the Madeleine. It is one of the nine active volcanoes of the Lesser Antilles. Its last eruption was in 1976.
This eruption led to the evacuation of the southern part of Basse-Terre. 73,600 people were displaced over a course of three and a half months following the eruption.

Hurricanes

The island has been devastated by several hurricanes in modern times:

  • On 12 September 1928, the Okeechobee hurricane caused extensive damage and killed thousands of people.
  • On 22 August 1964, Guadeloupe was ravaged by Hurricane Cleo, which killed 14 people.
  • On 27 September 1966, Category 3 Hurricane Inez caused extensive damage, mostly in Grande-Terre and north Basse-Terre Island, killing 33 people. Charles De Gaulle visited the islands after the hurricanes and declared them a disaster area.On 17 September 1989, Category 4 Hurricane Hugo caused extensive damage, destroyed 10,000 homes leaving more than 35,000 homeless. It destroyed 100 percent of the banana crop, and 60 percent of the sugar cane crop.
  • From late August to mid September 1995, the island was in the path of three successive cyclones: Tropical Storm Iris on 28 August caused minor damages; Hurricane Luis on 5 September caused moderate damage on the north coast of Grande-Terre; and Hurricane Marilyn on 15 September caused moderate damage in Basse-Terre.
  • On 21 September 1998, Hurricane Georges pounded the islands, causing moderate damage and destroying 90% of the banana crop.
  • On 5 September 2017, Hurricane Irma caused relatively minor damage while producing significant destruction on other islands, such as Saint Martin.
    In fact, the island is a base for relief efforts on St. Martin (Collectivity of Saint Martin) and St. Barts (Saint Barthélemy); France’s President Emmanuel Macron arrived at Pointe-a-Pitre airport on 12 September to begin his tour of those devastated islands and the distribution of relief supplies.
  • On 19 September 2017, Hurricane Maria battered Guadeloupe overnight as a category 4 or category 5 hurricane, causing flooding and intense winds, with the eye passing near Basse-Terre.
    Shortly after the hurricane hit, authorities reported at least one death and two reported missing after the sinking of their boat, serious flooding, and widespread damage to buildings in certain areas, with roofs blown off buildings and lack of power in 80,000 homes.

 

Geography

The department of Guadeloupe comprises five islands: Guadeloupe island composed of Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre (separated from Basse-Terre by a narrow sea channel called salt river) and the dependencies composed by the adjacent French islands of La Désirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief whilst/while Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains. Guadeloupe was formed from multiple volcanoes, of which only Basse-Terre is not extinct.

Further to the north, Saint-Barthélemy and the French part of Saint Martin come under the jurisdiction of Guadeloupe. On December 7, 2003, both of these areas voted to become an overseas territorial collectivity.

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