Officially the Collectivity of Saint Barthelemy is an overseas collectivity of France. Often abbreviated to Saint-Barth
in French, or St. Barts in English, the collectivity is one of the four
territories among the Leeward
Islands in the Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies, along with Guadeloupe, Martinique and St.
Barts has an area of twenty four square kilometers, seven kilometers long and
just three kilometers at its narrowest. The population is 8,398 (census 2006).
Its capital is Gustavia, also its main harbour. It is the
only Caribbean island to have historically been a Swedish colony for any significant length of time
(Guadeloupe only having been one briefly,
at the end of the Napoleonic Wars). The Swedish influence
can still be found in architecture and street names. The language, cuisine and
culture are distinctly French.
Economy: The official currency of Saint
Barthelemy is the euro.
INSEE estimated that the total GDP of Saint Barthelemy amounted to 179
million euros in 1999 US$255 million at Oct. 2007 exchange rates. In that same
year the GDP per capita of Saint Barthelemy was 26,000 euros; US$37,000 at
October 2007 exchange rates, which was 10% higher than the average GDP per
capita of metropolitan France.
St. Barts has long
been considered a playground of the rich and famous and is known for its
beautiful pristine beaches, gourmet dining in chic bistros and high-end
Barts has about twenty five hotels, most of them with fifteen rooms or fewer.
The largest has fifty eight rooms. Hotels are classified in the traditional
French manner 3 Star, 4 Star and 4 Star Luxe.
Most of the rooms allocated to tourism on St Barts are found in private
villas. There are approximately four hundred privately owned villas available
for rent on the island.
Gustavia Harbour - another tick in
the 1000 Places book - taken from behind the Catholic Church
History: Columbus discovered the island on his
second voyage in November 1493 he named it after his brother Bartholomeo. Saint
Barthelemy was first claimed by France in 1648. It was given to Sweden in 1784
(in exchange for trade rights in Gothenburg),
which sold it back to France in 1878. Slavery was practiced on the island under
the "Ordinance concerning the Police of Slaves and free Coloured People" of
1787. The last legally owned slaves in the Swedish colony of Saint-Barthelemy
were bought free by the state on the 9th October 1847. The Swedish period left
its mark in the names of many of the streets and the presence of Sweden's
national arms, the Three
Crowns in the island's coat of arms, along with the Maltese
cross, the Fleur-de-lis,
crown, two pelicans,
and the island's supposed Amerindian
250 km east of Puerto
Rico, Saint-Barthelemy lies near the islands of Saint
Some small satellite islets also belong to the island: Ile Chevreau, Ile
Fregate, Ile Toc Vers, Ile Tortue and Gros Ilets
Gustavia was established between 1784 and 1878, is the main town of the
island, named after King Carl Gustav
XVI of Sweden it retains the charm of the Swedish
oldest settlement still remaining is the village of Lorient, Lorient's sister
village on the French mainland is the city of Lorient on the southern coast of Brittany. The population is spread among a
number of quartiers, roughly corresponding to settlements. The village of
Corossol is known for its traditional hand-made straw objects.
Beaches: The islands beaches are among the
most beautiful in the Caribbean. Most of the twenty one beaches are protected
from the ocean by a coral barrier reef. All are public and free according to
French Law. The beaches vary according to ocean currents - the weather
travels onto the island following the sun from the East, some are enclosed and
are like bath water, one is only used for surfers. St. Barts has a tidal
difference of only 8–15 cm, the average yearly tropical maritime temperature is
twenty seven degrees Centigrade. The
beach of Grand Cul-de-Sac is the easiest beach in the Caribbean for
learning sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing as it has a reef which closes
off the entire bay. The current that passes outside the reef here also carries
the migrating whales and dolphins.
Demographics: According to the January 2007 census,
the population of Saint Barthelemy is 8,450 inhabitants, white
people are in a large majority. Most of the population are
French-speaking descendants of the first
Many of the full time residents are French citizens who work at the
various establishments on the island. French is the primary language spoken, the
natives' languages - Patois and Creole still survive, but many residents also
speak English, particularly in hotels and restaurants.
Politics and government:
administratively, the whole island of Saint-Barthelemy was a French commune
part of Guadeloupe,
which is an overseas
region and overseas
department of France, and therefore part of the European
Union. In 2003, the population voted in favour of secession from
Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas
collectivity (COM) of France. On the 7th of February 2007,
Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both Saint Barthelemy
and neighbouring Saint
Martin. The new status took effect on the 22nd of February
2007, when the law was published in the Journal
Officiel. Saint Barthelemy remains part of the European
Modelling: The tropical location and natural
beauty of St. Bart's makes it a prime location for modelling photo
shoots, particularly for swimwear. St. Bart's was the location of Brande
Roderick's 2001 Playmate of the
Year pictorial for Playboy. I hear
no complaints about the views from bear.
ALL IN ALL A VERY FRENCH, WELL KEPT AND BEAUTIFUL ISLAND - BUT