Everything You Need To Know About Guadaloupe

  • Guadeloupe is a French-administered archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. It consists of five islands, the most prominent two being Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre, which are only separated by a very narrow sea. It used to be seven islands, but in 2007, two islands voted for territorial independence. C'est la vie.
  • Guadeloupe was discovered and claimed in 1493 by none other than Christopher Columbus himself, who named it after the famous church of the Virgin Mary in Guadalupe, Spain.
  • The territory changed hands a lot in between its first settling (by the French in 1635) and its final annexation (also by the French, thanks to the Treaty of Vienna) - mostly being seized by the British (and a brief foray by the Swedes - see below.) To this day it is still a region of France.
  • The big national hero is Louis Delgres, who in 1794 led a revolt when Napoleon declared that slavery (then in decline) would return to Guadeloupe. Surrounded by French troops, Delgres and his men blew themselves up on the side of a volcano, and have been martyrs ever since.
  • Its most famous celebrity is Alexis Leger aka Saint-John Perse, a fanciful naturalistic poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960.
  • Being a Caribbean island, its chief economic industry is tourism. Its major crop is sugar cane, but hurricanes keep most of their local industries to a minimum.
  • Its most notable export is zouk music (zouk being Creole for "party"), which sounds like a cross between dancehall, salsa, and Bossa Nova.

And that's all. Really. I'm sure someone will disagree, but this is really everything you need to know.

Something You Do Not Need To Know About Guadeloupe, But I Will Tell You Anyway

Guadeloupe was at one time a major chess piece in the ongoing political battles between Britain and France. The British had seized the island from the French in 1810, and 3 months later they promptly signed over the island to Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte aka Charles XIV John, king of Sweden. Bernadotte had been one of Napoleon's most trusted military advisers but had recently been elected to serve as Sweden's royal leader. Guadeloupe became a sort of payment for this defection of trust, and thus Guadeloupe briefly became property of Sveringe.

However, following the simultaneous defeat and exile of Napoleon and the general withdrawal from the United States, Great Britain and Sweden saw little need for Caribbean islands and a much greater need for cash on the barrelhead. Thus they "ceded" Guadeloupe back to the French in exchange for 24 million francs, half of which was used to pay off war debts and the rest placed in a bank account, with the interest being paid to Bernadotte's heirs. This trust became known as the Guadeloupe Fund. The fund lasted until 1983, when diplomatic scrutiny led to its closing.

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