INFORMATION AND HISTORY
Christopher Columbus landed on Guadeloupe
on November 4, 1493. Though originally called Karukéra (Island of
Beautiful Waters) by the Carib Indians, he named the island after the
famous sanctuary of Santa Maria de Guadalupe de Estremadura. Lacking
gold and silver, Europeans did not take a great interest in the island
until the 17th century. For a brief period the Spanish had tried to
settle Guadeloupe, but they were stopped by the ferocious Carib Indians.
Then around 1635, the French began to colonize
the island. With the institutionalization of slavery in 1644, the trade
of spices, sugar, tobacco and rum prospered between France, Africa and
Guadeloupe was officially annexed by the King of
France in 1674. As the island prospered, it became the scene of great
battles between the French and the British, who occupied it from 1759 to
That year it was restored to France in exchange
for all French rights to Canada. But the tug-of-war continued on and off
until 1815 when the Treaty of Paris designated Guadeloupe as French.
1848, thanks to the efforts of Victor Schoelcher, slavery was abolished.
Guadeloupe was represented for the first time in the French Parliament
in 1871. It became part of the French Overseas Departments on March 19,
In its official status, the Départment/Région of Guadeloupe is an
archipelago of French possessions. This archipelago includes the islands
of St. Barthélemy,
Martin, Les Saintes, La
Désirade, Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe
itself. In practice however, the name Guadeloupe simply refers to the
butterfly-shaped island of Guadeloupe. Its 530 square miles encompass
dramatic rain forests, towering waterfalls, magnificent beaches and
picturesque villages. Guadeloupe is actually made up of two islands
connected by a bridge over the Rivière Salée. To the east lies
Grande-Terre, known for its white sand beaches, rolling hills, cane
fields and resort areas.
Located here is the economic capital of
Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre. To the west lies Basse-Terre, the larger of
the two islands. Basse-Terre has a very different topography with its
renowned rain forest, waterfalls, mountains and world-class diving. The
capital of Guadeloupe, on this western-wing, also bears the name,
Basse-Terre. On both sides, friendly West Indian hospitality and
delicious cuisine enhance the natural wonders of Guadeloupe.