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Updated:Tuesday 14th October 2014

Guadeloupe Definition

Guadeloupe is a group of small islands located in the eastern Caribbean Sea It is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe is also one of the twenty-six regions of France and an integral part of the Republic since 2007. (Wikipedia) - Guadeloupe For other uses, see Guadalupe.

Coordinates: 16°15′N 61°35′W / 16.250°N 61.583°W / 16.250; -61.583

Guadeloupe Country Prefecture Departments Government  • President Area  • Total Population (Jan. 2013)  • Total  • Density Demonym Time zone ISO 3166 code GDP (2012) Total Per capita NUTS Region Website
Overseas region of France
Flag Coat of arms
Josette Borel-Lincertin
1,628 km2 (629 sq mi)
250/km2 (650/sq mi)
ECT (UTC-04)
Ranked 25th
€8.03 billion (US$10.3 bn)
€19,810 (US$25,479)

Guadeloupe (/ɡwɑːdəˈluːp/; French pronunciation: ​; Antillean Creole: Gwadloup) is a group of Caribbean islands located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres (629 sq. mi) and a population of 405,739 inhabitants (as of Jan. 2013). It is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. Guadeloupe is an integral part of France, as are the other overseas departments.

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. The department also includes the Dependencies of Guadeloupe which include the smaller islands of Marie-Galante and La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes.

As part of France, Guadeloupe is part of the European Union and the Eurozone; hence, as for all Eurozone countries, its currency is the euro. However, as an overseas department, Guadeloupe is not part of the Schengen Area. The prefecture (i.e. French regional capital) of Guadeloupe is Basse-Terre. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Guadeloupéen).

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
  • 3 Geography
    • 3.1 Hurricanes
    • 3.2 Climate
  • 4 Demographics
    • 4.1 Major urban areas
      • 4.1.1 Statistics
  • 5 Administration
  • 6 Economy
  • 7 Culture
  • 8 Sport
  • 9 See also
  • 10 Notes
  • 11 References
  • 12 External links
    • 12.1 Government
      • 12.1.1 Travel


Christopher Columbus named the island Santa María de Guadalupe in 1493 after the Virgin Mary, venerated in the Spanish town of Guadalupe, in Extremadura.

History Main article: History of GuadeloupeThe Battle of the Saintes fought near Guadeloupe, 12 April 1782.A bust of French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher.

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 America, 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, meaning "pine 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 the island 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 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 of the colonies captured by the British 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, it was ceded to Sweden for a brief period of 15 months. However, the British administration continued 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.

Slavery was abolished on the island 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.

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.

Today, the population of Guadeloupe is mainly of African or mixed descent and largely Roman Catholic, speaking French and a Creole patois (Antillean Creole). There are also Europeans, Indians, Lebanese, Syrians, Chinese, and Carib Amerindians (remnants of the original pre-European population). The archipelago of Îles des Saintes is mostly populated by the descendants of colonists from Brittany and Normandy.

On 15 July 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.

On 20 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 French Caribbean general strikes exposed deep ethnic, racial, and class tensions and disparities within Guadeloupe.

Geography Main article: Geography of Guadeloupe

Located as the southernmost of the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea, Guadeloupe comprises two main islands: Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre (separated from Basse-Terre 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. La Grande Soufrière is the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles - 1467 m.

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 an overseas territorial collectivity, a decision which took effect on 22 February 2007.


The island was 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.
Climate Main article: Climate of Guadeloupe Climate data for Guadeloupe Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Average high °C (°F) Daily mean °C (°F) Average low °C (°F) Precipitation mm (inches) Avg. precipitation days Mean monthly sunshine hours
29.1 (84.4) 29.1 (84.4) 29.4 (84.9) 30.1 (86.2) 30.7 (87.3) 31.3 (88.3) 31.5 (88.7) 31.6 (88.9) 31.5 (88.7) 31.2 (88.2) 30.5 (86.9) 29.6 (85.3) 30.5 (86.9)
24.5 (76.1) 24.5 (76.1) 24.9 (76.8) 25.9 (78.6) 26.9 (80.4) 27.5 (81.5) 27.6 (81.7) 27.7 (81.9) 27.4 (81.3) 27.0 (80.6) 26.3 (79.3) 25.2 (77.4) 26.3 (79.3)
19.9 (67.8) 19.9 (67.8) 20.4 (68.7) 21.7 (71.1) 23.1 (73.6) 23.8 (74.8) 23.8 (74.8) 23.7 (74.7) 23.3 (73.9) 22.9 (73.2) 22.1 (71.8) 20.9 (69.6) 22.1 (71.8)
84 (3.31) 64 (2.52) 73 (2.87) 123 (4.84) 148 (5.83) 118 (4.65) 150 (5.91) 198 (7.8) 236 (9.29) 228 (8.98) 220 (8.66) 137 (5.39) 1,779 (70.04)
15.0 11.5 11.5 11.6 13.6 12.8 15.4 16.2 16.6 18.1 16.6 15.7 174.6
235.6 229.1 232.5 240.0 244.9 237.0 244.9 248.0 216.0 217.0 207.0 223.2 2,775.2
Source: Hong Kong Observatory
Demographics Main article: Demographics of Guadeloupe Major urban areasA satellite photo of Guadeloupe.Carbet Falls, one of the most popular tourist sites in Guadeloupe, with approximately 400,000 visitors annually.Beach of Feuillère Rank Urban Area Pop. (08) Pop. (99) Δ Pop Activities Island
1 Pointe-à-Pitre 132,884 132,751 +0.10 % economic center Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre
2 ''Basse-Terre 37,455 36,126 +3.68 % administrative center Basse-Terre
3 Sainte-Anne 23,457 20,410 +14.9 % tourism Grande-Terre
4 Petit-Bourg 22,171 20,528 +8.00 % agriculture Basse-Terre
5 Le Moule 21,347 20,827 +2.50 % agriculture Grande-Terre

July 2006 estimates from the CIA World Factbook; note that these estimates disagree with official INSEE estimates and that they also include Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy:

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 (male:female) 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 75.91 years
females 82.37 years
Overall 79.14 years
Total fertility rate 1.9 children born per woman
Adjectival Guadeloupe, Guadeloupean
Ethnic groups African descent/Multiracial/Creole (Primarily of European, African, Indian and Amerindian mix) 71%
Indian (mostly Tamil) descent 15%
White European (Mostly of French descent) 9%
Lebanese / Syrians 2%
Chinese / others 3%
Religion Roman Catholic 86%
Protestant 5%
Hindu ~2%
African: Voodoo ~2%
Jehovah''s Witnesses 2%
Language French (official) 99%, Most locals also speak Creole
Literacy males 90%

Administration Main article: Politics of Guadeloupe See also: Overseas departments and territories of France and Administrative divisions of FranceTo the right, Victorin Lurel, Chairman of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe sends four deputies to the French National Assembly and three senators to the French Senate. One of the four National Assembly constituencies still includes Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy even though they seceded from Guadeloupe in 2007. This situation should last until 2012 when Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy will send their own deputies to the French National Assembly.

Islands and communes of the Guadeloupe département.

Guadeloupe is divided into arrondissements, cantons and communes:

  • Arrondissements of the Guadeloupe department
  • Cantons of the Guadeloupe department
  • Communes of the Guadeloupe department
Economy Main article: Economy of Guadeloupe

In 2006, the GDP per capita of Guadeloupe at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was €17,338 (US$21,780).

The economy of Guadeloupe depends on tourism, agriculture, light industry and services. But it especially depends on France for large subsidies and imports.

Tourism is a key industry, with 83.3% of tourists visiting from metropolitan 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. An increasingly large number of cruise ships visit the islands.

The traditional sugar cane 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".

Culture Main article: Music of Martinique and GuadeloupeAdmiral T at Stade de France

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 images of his poetry, which, in a visionary fashion, reflects the conditions of our time."

Guadeloupe has always had a rich literary output, continued today by many living writers, poets, novelists, essayists and journalists, among them Mesdames Maryse Condé and Simone Schwarz-Bart, Ernest Pépin (fr).

Francky Vincent

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 zouk, zouk-love, konpa, as well as the modern international dances such as hip hop, etc.

Traditional Guadeloupean music includes la biguine, kadans, cadence-lypso, bouyon, and gwo ka. Popular music artists and bands such as Experience 7, Francky Vincent, Kassav'' (which included Patrick St-Eloi), and Gilles Floro embody the traditional music style of the island and the new generation of music, while some other musical artists, like Tom Frager (who grew up in Guadeloupe), perform colorful reggae music that defines the Guadeloupe island as paradise-like. Many international festivals take place in Guadeloupe, like the Creole Blues Festival, hosted in Marie-Galante. All the Euro-French forms of art are also ubiquitous. The melting pot is emphasized by other communities (from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Lebanon, Syria), who live on the island and share their cultures.

While not in the Guadeloupean style, Catherine Quinol ("Katrin"), is known worldwide as the lip-synching icon of the piano-house trio Black Box, who burst on to the music scene in the late 1980s with songs such as "Ride On Time". Katrin is, however, a trained singer and she went on to release her own work.

Another element of Guadeloupean culture is its dress. A few women (particularly of the older generation) wear a unique style of traditional dress, with many layers of colourful fabric, now only worn on special occasions. On festive occasions they also wore a madras (originally a "kerchief" from South India) head scarf tied in many different symbolic ways, each with a different name. The headdress could be tied in the "bat" style, or the "firefighter" style, as well as the "Guadeloupean woman". Jewelry, mainly gold, is also important in the Guadeloupean lady''s dress, a product of European, African and Indian inspiration.

French born dancers, choreographers, comedians Laurent and Larry Bourgeois are also of Guadelupean descent. Noted for their fresh take on hip-hop dance, this twin duo made an impression on the dance world while touring with Michael Jackson and Beyonce on the Immortal tour.

SportFootballer Lilian Thuram, the most capped ever for France, was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.France''s all time top scorer, half Guadeloupean Thierry Henry.

Football (soccer) is popular in Guadeloupe, and several notable footballers are of Guadeloupean origin:

  • Thierry Henry, a star of the French national team and MLS club New York Red Bulls, often visits, as his father Antoine was originally from the island.
  • William Gallas (Guadeloupean parentage) visits the island when not playing for Perth Glory FC.
  • Lilian Thuram, defender for France and most notably FC Barcelona, was born in Guadeloupe.
  • The former Manchester United, Everton and France striker Louis Saha.
  • Newcastle United F.C. striker Yoan Gouffran.
  • Kettering Town goalkeeper Willy Gueret.
  • Pascal Chimbonda, footballer. Chimbonda was born in Guadeloupe.
  • Parma F.C. star Jonathan Biabiany.
  • Stéphane Auvray currently plays for New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.
  • Ronald Zubar and his younger brother Stephane, who are both footballers, were born in Guadeloupe.
  • Miguel Comminges, who currently plays as a defender for English side Stevenage F.C..
  • Dimitri Foulquier, who plays as a defender at Granada CF.
  • Teddy Riner

The national football team experienced success in 2007, advancing all the way to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals, where they were defeated 1–0 by CONCACAF powerhouse Mexico.

Basketball is also popular. Best known players are the NBA players Mickaël Piétrus, Johan Petro, Rodrigue Beaubois, and Mickael Gelabale (now playing in Russia), who were born on the island. Also known is trainer and former player Paul Chonchon, after whom a basketball stadion in Pointe-à-Pitre is named.

Many fine track and field athletes, such as Marie-José Pérec, Patricia Girard-Léno, Christine Arron, and Wilhem Belocian, are also Guadeloupe natives. Triple Olympic champion Marie-José Pérec, fourth-fastest 100m runner Christine Arron, and fencing champion Laura Flessel were all born and raised in Guadeloupe.

Even though Guadeloupe is part of France, it has its own sports teams. Rugby union is a small but rapidly growing sport in Guadeloupe. France international and RC Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud (cousin of footballer William Gallas) was born in Guadeloupe.

The island is also internationally best known for hosting the Karujet Race – Jet Ski World Championship since 1998. This nine-stage, four-day event attracts competitors from around the world (mostly Caribbeans, Americans, and Europeans). The Karujet, generally made up of seven races around the island, has an established reputation as one of the most difficult championships in which to compete.

The Route du Rhum is one of the most prominent nautical French sporting events, occurring every four years.

Bodybuilder Serge Nubret was born in Anse-Bertrand, Grande-Terre, representing the French state in various bodybuilding competitions throughout the 1960s and 1970s, taking 2nd place in both the 1973 and 1975 IFBB Mr. Olympia contests. Bodybuilder Marie-Laure Mahabir also hails from Guadeloupe.

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