Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the eastern Caribbean Sea at 16°15′N 61°35′W, with a total area of 1,780 square kilometres (687 sq. mi). It is an overseas department of France. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe is also one of the twenty-six regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic. As part of France, Guadeloupe is part of the European Union; hence its currency is the euro.[1] Guadeloupe is however not party to the Schengen Agreement.


Guadeloupe was populated from 300 BC by the Arawak Amerindians, who fished and developed agriculture on the island. It was next inhabited by the Caribs, who pushed out most of the Arawak in the 8th century, and who renamed the island "Karukera" or the "Island of beautiful waters".

During his second trip to America Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Guadeloupe on 14 November 1493. 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.

After successful settlement on the island of St Christophe (St Kitts), the French American Islands Company delegates Charles Lienard and Jean Duplessis, Lord of Ossonville to colonise one or any of the region’s islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique or Dominica. Due to Martinique’s inhospitable nature, the duo resolves to settle in Guadeloupe. The French took possession of the island in 1635 and wiped out many of the Carib amerindians. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1674. Over the next century, the island was seized several times by the British. One indication of Guadeloupe's prosperity at this time is that in the Treaty of Paris (1763), France, defeated in war, accepted to abandon its territorial claims in Canada in return for British recognition of French control of Guadeloupe.

In an effort to take advantage of the chaos ensuing from the French Revolution, Britain attempted to seize Guadeloupe in 1794 and held it from April 21 to June 2. The French retook the island under the command of Victor Hugues, who succeeded in freeing the slaves. They revolted and turned on the slave-owners who controlled the sugar plantations, but when American interests were threatened, Napoleon sent a force to suppress the rebels and reinstitute slavery. 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 in the process of restoring order to the island.

On February 4, 1810 the British once again seized the island and held it until March 3, 1813, when it was ceded to Sweden as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. Sweden already had a colony in the area, but merely a year later Sweden left the island to France in the Treaty of Paris of 1814. An ensuing settlement between Sweden and the British gave rise to the Guadeloupe Fund. French control of Guadeloupe was finally acknowledged in the Treaty of Vienna in 1815. Slavery was abolished on the island in 1848 at the initiative of Victor Schoelcher. Today the population of Guadeloupe is mostly of African origin with an important European and Indian active population. Lebanese, Chinese, and people of many other origins are also present.


Guadeloupe comprises five islands: Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre (separated from Basse-Terre by a narrow sea channel called salt river) with the adjacent islands of La Désirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante.

Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief, while Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains.

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. [1]


(July 2006 estimates)

Population 452,776
Age structure 0 to 14 years 23.6% male 54,725
female 52,348
15 to 64 years 67.1% male 150,934
female 153,094
65 years and older 9.2% male 17,353
female 24,322
Population growth rate   0.88%
Birth rate 15.05 births per 1,000 people
Death rate 6.09 deaths
Net migration rate -0.15 migrants
Sex ratio
at birth 1.05
under 15 years
15 to 64 years 0.99
65 years and older 0.71
Overall 0.97
Infant mortality rate 8.41 deaths per 1,000 live births
Life expectancy
at birth
males 74.91 years
females 81.37 years
Overall 78.06 years
Total fertility rate 1.9 children born per woman
Demonym Guadeloupean(s) (not Guadeloupians)
Adjectival Guadeloupe, Guadeloupean
Ethnic groups[2] Black / Mulatto 75%
White 11%
Tamil / East Indian 9%
Lebanese / Syrians 3%
Chinese / others 2%
Religion Roman Catholic 91%
Protestant 5%
Hindu / African 4%
Jehovah's Witnesses 2%
Language French (official) 99%, Creole patois
Literacy[3] males 90%

 Administrative divisions


Administratively, Guadeloupe is divided into arrondissements, cantons and communes:

See also: Overseas departments and territories of France and Administrative divisions of France



This article is part of the series:
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National holiday Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Slavery Abolition Day 27 May (1848)
Constitution[4] 28 September (1958)
Legal system French
Suffrage Universal at 18 years old
Executive branch Chief of state President Jacques Chirac
represented by Prefect Paul Girot de Langlade
since 17 May 1995
since 7 July 2004
Head of government President of the General Council Jacques Gillot
President of the Regional Council Victorin Lurel
since 26 March 2001
since 22 April 2004
Cabinet n/a
Elections French president elected by popular vote for five-year term;
Prefect appointed by the French president on advice of the French Ministry of the Interior;
General and Regional Council presidents elected by membership of those councils.
Election results n/a
Legislative branch Unicameral General Council (Conseil General; 42 seats)
Unicameral Regional Council (Conseil Regional; 41 seats)
members elected by popular vote
to serve six-year terms
Elections[5] General Council
last held March 2004, next due 2010
Regional Council
last held 28 March 2004, next due March 2008[6]
Election results General Council
Percent of vote by party: n/a
Seats by party:
left-wing candidates 11, PS 8, PCG 3, PPDG 6
right-wing candidates 5, RPR 8, UDF 1
Regional Council
Percent of vote by party:
PS 58.4%, UMP 41.6%
Seats by party:
PS 29, UMP 12
Judicial branch Court of Appeal (Cour d'Appel) in Basse-Terre;
Assize Court (Cour d'assises) in Basse-Terre to try felonies, consisting of three judges and a popular jury;
Several first instance courts of varying competence levels, in Basse-Terre, Pointe-à-Pitre, Saint-Martin and Grand-Bourg.
Political parties Guadeloupe Communist Party (PCG) · FGPS · Progressive Democratic Party (PPDG) · Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) (formerly the Rassemblement pour la Republique, RPR) · Socialist Party (PS) · Union for French Democracy (UDF)
Pressure groups Union for the Liberation of Guadeloupe (ULPG) · General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers (CGT-G) · General Union of Guadeloupe Workers (UGTG) · Movement for Independent Guadeloupe (MPGI) · The Socialist Party
See also: Colonial and Departmental Heads of Guadeloupe


Guadeloupe's culture is probably best known for the islanders' literary achievements, particularly the poetry of Saint-John Perse, the pseudonym used by Alexis Léger. Perse won the 1960 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time."

Guadeloupe has always had a rich literary production prolonged today by many living writers, poets, novelists, essayists and journalists, among them Maryse Condé, Ernest Pépin and Simone Schwartz-Bart.

Also culturally important are the arts, particularly painting and sculpture. Famous painters and/or sculptors include Michel Rovelas, Claudie Cancellier, Jean-Claude Echard, Christian Bracy, Roger Arekian, les Frères Baptiste, Michelle Chomereau-Lamothe, Léogane, Pédurand, Nicole Réache, Victor Sainsily. Photographer and visual effects artist Karim Sahai of Weta Digital, New-Zealand, has worked on the visual effects of The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, X-Men, etc.

Music and dance are also very popular, and the widely accepted interaction of African, French and Indian cultures has given birth to some original new forms specific to the archipelago. Islanders enjoy many local dance styles including the quadrille "au commandement", zouk, zouk-love, toumbélé, as well as all the modern international dances. Typical Guadeloupean music includes la biguine and gwo ka à la base. Many international festivals take place in Guadeloupe, like the Creole Blues Festival, the Marie-Galante Festival, Festival Gwo-Ka Cotellon, etc. It goes without saying that all the Euro-French forms of art are also omnipresent in the melting pot.

Another element of the Guadeloupean culture is its dress. Women in particular have a unique style of traditional dresses, with many layers of colorful fabrics, now only worn on special occasions. On festive occasions they also wore a madras (originally the 'kerchief' from South India) head scarf tied in many different symbolic forms. The headdress could be done in many styles with names like the "bat" style, or the "firefighter" style, as well as the "Guadeloupean woman." Jewelry is also important, mainly of gold, in the Guadeloupean lady's dress, a product of European, African and Indian inspiration. Many famous couturiers like Devaed or Mondelo are Guadeloupeans.


The economy of Guadeloupe depends on tourism, agriculture, light industry and services. It also depends on France for large subsidies and imports.

Tourism is a key industry, with 83.3% of tourists visiting from continental France, 10.8% coming from the rest of Europe, 3.4% coming from the United States, 1.5% coming from Canada, 0.4% coming from South America and 0.6% coming from the rest of the world.[7] An increasingly large number of cruise ships visit the islands.

The traditional sugarcane crop is slowly being replaced by other crops, such as bananas (which now supply about 50% of export earnings), eggplant, guinnep, noni, sapotilla, paroka, pikinga, giraumon squash, yam, gourd, plantain, christophine, monbin, prunecafé, cocoa, jackfruit, pomegranate, and many varieties of flowers. Other vegetables and root crops are cultivated for local consumption, although Guadeloupe is still dependent on imported food, mainly from France.

Light industry features sugar and rum, solar energy, and many industrial productions. Most manufactured goods and fuel are imported. Unemployment is especially high among the youth. Hurricanes periodically devastate the economy.

The country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Guadeloupe is ".gp".


  1. ^ Guadeloupe is pictured on all Euro banknotes, on the backside at the bottom of each note, right of the Greek ΕΥΡΩ (EURO) next to the denomiation.
  2. ^ Approximate figures as ethnicity is not polled during a French census.
  3. ^ Defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write; based on 1982 estimates.
  4. ^ French constitution.
  5. ^ Guadeloupe elects two representatives to the French Senate; elections last held September 2004, next due ?September 2013
    Percent of vote by party: n/a;
    Seats by party: n/a;
    Guadeloupe elects four representatives to the French National Assembly; elections last held 9-16 June 2002, next due June 2007
    Percent of vote by party: n/a;
    Seats by party: RPR 2, PS 1, other right-wing parties 1
  6. ^ to elect half the membership.
  7. ^ Guadeloupe - Economie (FR) (1998). Retrieved on 2006-06-10.

See also

External links

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