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Drapeau de Guadeloupe
Carte de Guadeloupe

General presentation

Carte de GuadeloupeGuadeloupe has been a French overseas department since 1946. It is an archipelago that includes the islands of Saintes, Marie-Galante and La Désirade. It is located between Montserrat and Antigua and Barbuda to the north and Dominica to the south. Guadeloupe is located more than 6,200 km from the metropolis.

Basse-Terre to the west (848 km²) and Grande-Terre to the east (588 km²) are separated by an arm of the sea not exceeding 200 meters wide, called "La Rivière Salée".

Historically, Basse-Terre was called Karukéra "the island of beautiful waters" and Grande-Terre Cibuqueira "the island of gum trees" in their Caribbean era.

La Désirade (21 km²), Marie-Galante (158 km²) and Les Saintes, a small archipelago of 9 islands (12.80 km²) are administrative dependencies of the island. They are called "southern islands".

Guadeloupe was populated by 400,263 inhabitants in 2022 and its total area is 1,628.43 square kilometers (628.74 sq. mi.). Its population density is approximately 248 inhabitants/km².

The summit of Guadeloupe is Soufrière with 1,467 m.

Drapeau de GuadeloupeAs a French department, the head of state of Guadeloupe is Emmanuel Macron. He has executive power. Guadeloupe has two local assemblies: the Departmental Council and the Regional Council. The President of the Departmental Council is Josette Borel-Lincertin and the President of the Regional Council is Ary Chalus.


Like the islands of the Lesser Antilles, Guadeloupe was populated by the Arawaks from the 4th century BC. Around the 8th century, a people who came from the Guiana Plateau, the Caribs, a warrior people who very quickly will exterminate the Arawak men present on the island and keep the women to make them their wives or servants. They baptized the island then Karukéra which means “the island with beautiful waters”. The Arawak name is still used locally and its meaning is the slogan of tourist banners about the island.

The Caribs were the inhabitants living on the island when Christopher Columbus sighted the island during his second voyage in November 1493. It was first La Désirade then Marie-Galante that he saw in the distance before landing on the island of Basse-Terre on November 4. He named the island Santa Maria de Guadalupe de Estramadura in homage to the Spanish monastery where he made a pilgrimage after his first trip to the New World.

The Guadeloupe archipelago remained a Spanish colony for 130 years, not without facing fierce opposition from the Caribbean and numerous struggles, particularly in 1515, 1520 and 1523. In 1526, Pierre Belain 'Esnambuc landed with men and chased the Spaniards who were there. At the time only a hundred Spanish colonists lived there and the acquisition of the island was easy for the French.

In 1635, two other Frenchmen, Léonard de l'Olive and Jean Duplessis d'Ossonville landed on the island and established a colony there. Until 1640, they will have to fight with the Carib Indians until they are quickly sent to the neighboring island of Dominica.

Subsequently, different crops will be planted to be exploited and sold on the European market. To exploit these cultures it is towards Africa that the French turn, who will buy slaves to come and work in the plantations, this from 1644.

In 1674, the management of Guadeloupe passed into the hands of the various companies founded by the authorities of the French crown, but the latter were quickly ruined by successive attempts to colonize the surrounding islands. It becomes a dependency of Martinique and will remain so until 1775.

Guadeloupe will benefit from the influence of Jean-Baptiste Labat, a leader who was the founder of the colony of Basse-Terre and who, in 1703, armed the African slaves of the island to fight against the English. He was also the one who established the first sugar refineries, thus laying the foundations for the economic prosperity that followed.

Slavery is institutionalized via the Code Noir dating from 1685. In the fields of coffee, cocoa, cane and bananas, slaves will suffer the worst atrocities.

This operating system will last more than two centuries before being abolished for the first time in 1794 and restored in 1802 then definitively abolished in 1848.


Par la suite, ce sera un lent processus pour aider au développement de l'île et réduire la fracture économique et sociale entre la Guadeloupe et les autres départements français.

At the end of slavery, it is the Indians who will arrive to replace them on the plantations. Coming for 5-year contracts, they will be subject to precarious sanitary and hygienic conditions such as the former slaves before them had known.

The colonial system will last until 1946 when the archipelago would become a French department.

On December 31, 1982, it became a mono-departmental region.

Thereafter, it will be a slow process to help the development of the island and reduce the economic and social divide between Guadeloupe and the other French departments.


La Guadeloupe se trouve dans une situation économique difficile avec un taux de chômage élevé (23,7% de la population active en 2015) et une balance commerciale déficitaire.

L'agriculture subventionné par l'Union Européenne ne survit que grâce aux aides de l'État, l'Union Européenne et les collectivités locales. La canne et la banane sont les deux plus grosses productions de l'île. L'industrie est quasiment inexistante (5,4% de la valeur ajoutée de l'île).

Enfin le tourisme est le seul secteur à apporter satisfaction. Les visites dans l'île sont de plus en plus nombreuses et l'inauguration en 2015 du Mémorial ACTe, musée dédié à l'esclavage a participé à cette dynamique.

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