Latin America & Caribbean

Guadeloupe profile

Map of Guadeloupe

Known to its one-time Carib Indian population as "karukera", or "island of beautiful waters", the butterfly-shaped French territory of Guadeloupe is a centre of Caribbean Creole culture.

French, African and Caribbean influences infuse its music, dance, food and widely-spoken patois.

Guadeloupe's economy is kept afloat by public salaries and credits from Paris. Unemployment has been a long-running malaise, although its effects are tempered by France's generous social security system.

Agriculture revolves around sugar cane and bananas; the latter is troubled by regional competition and the phasing out of preferential European quotas.

Tourism is also a key earner with visitors, mostly from the US, drawn to Guadeloupe's resorts, beaches, waterfalls and forests.



Overseas department of France

  • Population 465,000

  • Area 1,705 sq km (658 sq miles)

  • Major languages French (official), Creole dialect

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy: 76 years (men); 84 years (women)

  • Currency euro

Getty Images
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cinnamon is among the spices sold at the Saint-Antoinee market in Pointe-a-Pitre


Head of state: The President of France

Guadeloupe is administered as a part of the French mainland.

Paris is represented by a prefect, appointed by the French president. Regional and general councils, elected by popular votes, oversee legislative and day-to-day affairs. Guadeloupe sends representatives to the National Assembly and to the Senate in Paris.


Image copyright AFP
Image caption The RFO TV and radio network operates in France's overseas departments and territories

Commercial broadcasters operate alongside services provided by public broadcaster Reseau France Outre-mer (RFO).


700 BC - First inhabited by the Amerindian Arawak people who are displaced by Carib Indians in 1000 AD.

1493 - Visited by explorer Christopher Columbus but the Carib Indian inhabitants resist Spanish attempts to settle.

1635 - French colonialists establish a settlement, wiping out the Carib population and bringing in African slaves to work on sugar plantations.

1700-1800s - Several British occupations and a brief period of nominal Swedish rule before the territory is restored to France in 1816.

1946 - Becomes a French overseas department

1958 - Guadeloupeens choose to remain a French possession over independence

1976 - La Soufriere volcano erupts causing half the island to be evacuated

1980 - Becomes a French administrative region

1980s - Campaign for secession flares up when pro-independence groups bomb hotels and government buildings

2009 - Violent protests follow a general strike over the cost of living. France offers Guadeloupe hundreds of millions of euros in new subsidies.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A month-long general strike in 2009 plunged Guadeloupe into violent protests

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