Place:Saint-Barthélemy, Guadeloupe


Alt namesSaint Barthélemysource: from redirect
Coordinates17.9°N 62.833°W
Located inGuadeloupe
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Saint Barthélemy, officially the Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy, is an overseas collectivity of France in the Caribbean. It is often abbreviated to St-Barth in French, and St. Barts in English. The island lies about south-east of the Caribbean island Saint Martin, and is north-east of the Dutch islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and the independent country of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Saint Barthélemy was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France. In 2003 the island voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity (collectivité d'outre-mer, abbreviated to COM) of France. The collectivity is one of four territories among the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that make up the French West Indies, along with Saint Martin, Guadeloupe ( southeast), and Martinique.

Saint Barthélemy, a volcanic island fully encircled by shallow reefs, has an area of and a population of 9,961 at the Jan. 2017 census. Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour. It is the only Caribbean island that was a Swedish colony for any significant length of time (before the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Guadeloupe came under Swedish rule for a year before the Treaty of Paris). It remained so for nearly a century before it returned to French rule after a referendum. Symbolism from the Swedish national arms, the Three Crowns, still appears in the island's coat of arms. The language, cuisine, and culture, however, are distinctly French. The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season, geared towards the high-end, luxury tourist market.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early period

Before European contact the island was possibly frequented by Eastern Caribbean Taíno and Arawak people, who called the island 'Ouanalao', though it is believed that the island was not inhabited permanently due to its poor water sources and soil. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter the island in 1493.[1] Sporadic visits continued for the next hundred years until formal colonisation began taking shape.[2]

17th century

By 1648 the island was settled by the French, encouraged by Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, the lieutenant-governor of the French West India Company, and initially comprised about 50 to 60 settlers, later augmented by smaller numbers coming from St Kitts. Led by Jacques Gentes, the new arrivals began cultivating cacao. However, the settlement was attacked by Caribs in 1656 and briefly abandoned.[1][3]

De Poincy was the dominant administrator in this period and a member of the Order of Saint John. He facilitated the transfer of ownership from the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique to the Order. He continued to rule the island until his death in 1660. Five years later, it was bought by the French West India Company along with the Order's other possessions in the Caribbean.[1][3] By 1674, the company was dissolved and the islands became part of the French Kingdom and added to the colony of Guadeloupe.[4][3]

18th century

The island proved economically unsuccessful, and was subject to the activities of pirates (most notably Daniel Montbars aka 'Montbars the Exterminator'), as well as the British, who attacked the island in 1744.[1][3] Thus deeming it to be of little worth, King Louis XVI traded the island to Sweden in 1784 in return for trading privileges in Gothenburg.[5][3] This change of control saw progress and prosperity as the Swedes declared Gustavia (named after the Swedish king Gustav III who ruled at that time) a free port, convenient for trading by the Europeans for goods, including contraband material.[3][1]

19th century

Slavery was practised in St. Barthélemy under the Ordinance concerning the Police of Slaves and free Coloured People of 1787. The last legally owned slaves in the Swedish colony of St. Barthélemy were granted their freedom by the state on 9 October 1847.[3] Since the island was not a plantation area, the freed slaves suffered economic hardships due to lack of opportunities for employment.

In 1852, a devastating hurricane hit the island and this was followed by a fire.[3] The economy suffered, and thus Sweden sought to relieve themselves of the island. In 1867, a volcano “nearly destroyed the island” as recorded in the Illustrated London News. [3] Following a referendum in 1877, Sweden sold the island back to France in 1878, after which it was administered as part of Guadeloupe.[3]

20th century

On 19 March 1946, the people of the island became French citizens with full rights.[1] With few economic prospects on the islands many men from St. Barthélemy took jobs on Saint Thomas to support their families.[3] Organised tourism and hotels began in earnest in the 1960s and developed in the 1970s onwards, particularly after the building of the island's landing strip that can accommodate mid-sized aircraft.[3] The island soon became renowned as a high-class luxury destination, being frequented by numerous celebrities such as Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Benjamin de Rothschild, David Rockefeller, Lorne Michaels, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Jimmy Buffett and Johnny Hallyday.[1] The boost in tourist numbers has led to a rise in living standards and rapid modernisation.[3]

The island was not electrified until the 1980s.

21st century

Saint Barthélemy was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France. Through a referendum in 2003, island residents sought separation from the administrative jurisdiction of Guadeloupe, and it was finally accomplished in 2007.[3] The island of Saint Barthélemy became an Overseas Collectivity (COM). A governing territorial council was elected for its administration, which has provided the island with a certain degree of autonomy. A senator represents the island in Paris. St. Barthélemy has retained its free port status. Saint Barthélemy ceased being an outermost region and left the EU, to become an OCT, (Overseas Country or Territory) on 1 January 2012.

The island sustained damage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017 but recovered quickly, and by early 2018 transport and electricity were largely operational.[1]

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