is an archipelago in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a total
area of 1,702 km². It is an overseas département
(département d'outre-mer, or DOM) of France. Like the
other DOMs, Guadeloupe is also one of the 26 régions
(région d'outre-mer) of France, and an integral part
of the Republic.
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".
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.
The French took possession of the island in 1635 and wiped
out many of the Carib. It was annexed to 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 abandoned
its territorial claims in Canada in return for British recognition
of French control of Guadeloupe.
Carbet FallsIn 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, the nearby island of Saint-Barthélemy,
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 a blend of Europeans, Africans and Indians.
Guadeloupe became an overseas département of France
on March 19, 1946. A local independence movement has been
involved occasionally in acts of violence against the French
government in order to achieve its aims.