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 the Antilles.

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 1763. 

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.

In 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, 1946.

In its official status, the Départment/Région of Guadeloupe is an archipelago of French possessions. This archipelago includes the islands of St. Barthélemy,
St. 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.