Saint Barthélemy

Saint Barthélemy
Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy
Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: La Marseillaise
Saint Barthelemy-CIA WFB Map.png

(and largest city)
Official language(s) French
Local languages Saint-Barthélemy French, Antillean Creole, English
Ethnic groups  European, Mulatto, West African, Mestizo (French-East Asia)[1]
Government Dependent territory
 -  President of France Nicolas Sarkozy
 -  Prefect Jacques Simonnet
 -  President of the Territorial Council Bruno Magras
 -  Deputy Victorin Lurel
 -  Senator Michel Magras
Overseas collectivity of France
 -  French colony 1648 
 -  Exchanged to Sweden 1 July 1784 
 -  Sold to France 16 March 1878 
 -  as separate Overseas Collectivity 22 February 2007 
 -  Total 21 km2 (not ranked)
8.1 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2008 census 8,823[2] 
 -  Density 354.7/km2 (26th)
919.5/sq mi
HDI (2003) n/a (unranked) (n/a)
Currency Euro (€) (EUR)
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
ISO 3166 code BL
Internet TLD .bl assigned but not in use, .fr and .gp in use
Calling code 590

Saint Barthélemy (French: Saint-Barthélemy, French pronunciation: [sɛ̃baʁteləmi]; Swedish: Sankt Bartholomeus), officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint Barthélemy (French: Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy), is an overseas collectivity of France.[3] Often abbreviated to Saint-Barth in French, or St. Barts (also, St. Barth's) in English, the indigenous people called the island Ouanalao.[4] The collectivity is one of four territories among the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies, along with Guadeloupe (200 km southeast), Martinique and Saint Martin. St. Barts lies c. 35 km southeast of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, and north of St Kitts. Puerto Rico is 240 km to its west in the Lesser Antilles.[5]

St. Barts, a volcanic island fully encircled by shallow reefs, has an area of 21 km² and a population of 8,823 (census 2008). Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour to the island. It is the only Caribbean island which was a Swedish colony for any significant length of time; Guadeloupe was under Swedish rule only briefly, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Symbolism from the Swedish national arms, the Three Crowns, still appears in the island's coat of arms. The language, cuisine and culture, however, are distinctly French. The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season.



The island was named by Christopher Columbus after his brother Bartholomeo.[citation needed]


Coastline of St. Barts

The ancient history of the island dates to about 1000 BC when the Ciboney people attempted to settle but left due to the lack of water, either for drinking or for practicing agriculture.[citation needed] It was much later, around 100 AD, that Arawak Indians started living on the island. They were pushed out by the Caribs around 800 AD. There have been archaeological finds, such as pottery and crude tools, related to the Carib existence on the island.

17th century

The first European colonisation of the island began in 1623 (settlers from Dieppe[6]) when Pierre Belain d’Esnambuc, a private operator, established a company known as Compagnie de Saint-Cristophe[verification needed]. With financial support from Cardinal Richelieu, d'Esnambuc established hegemony of the French in the Caribbean islands including St. Barts. For this purpose, the company brought over farmers from the French provinces of Normandy and Brittany[verification needed]. St. Barts was claimed by France in 1648.[citation needed] In 1651, when Compagnie de Saint-Cristophe found it difficult to survive in the arid conditions, they sold it to the Knights of Malta.[citation needed] In 1656 the Caribs rebelled against the European settlers and killed some of them.[citation needed]

18th century

There was a very brief takeover by the British in 1758. The island was given to Sweden in 1784 in exchange for trade rights in Gothenburg. It was only after 1784, when King Louis XVI exchanged the island to Sweden, that the island's fortunes changed for the better. This change of control saw progress and prosperity as the Swedes declared Gustavia a free port, convenient for trading by the Europeans for goods, including contraband material.[7] However, that prospertiy was short-lived and the island returned to a lean period.

Historical quartiers (1801)

19th century

Slavery was practiced in St. Barts under the "Ordinance concerning the Police of Slaves and free Coloured People"[8] of 1787. The last legally owned slaves in the Swedish colony of St. Barts were granted their freedom by the state on 9 October 1847.[9] Since the island was not a plantation area, the freed slave suffered economic hardships due to lack of opportunities for employment.[10][verification needed] In 1852, a devastating hurricane[verification needed] hit the island and this was followed by a fire. Sweden gave the island back to France in 1878.[11] The Swedish period left its mark in the names of many of the streets and the town Gustavia (in honour of King Gustav III), and the presence of Sweden's national arms, the Tre Kronor in the island's coat of arms. Other heraldry include the Maltese cross, the Fleur-de-lis, the mural crown and two pelicans.

20th century

On 19 March 1946, the people of the island became French citizens with full rights.[citation needed] The island was placed together with St. Martin and Guadeloupe and Martinique, and given legal status as a Department of France.[verification needed] The population of St. Barts was relatively impoverished.[citation needed] Since economic support was not forthcoming from France, the island developed a special relationship with US Virgin Islands.[citation needed] Many men from St. Barts took jobs on St Thomas in order to support their families. The island received electricity circa 1961. Tourism began in the 1960s, developed in the 1970s, and led to considerable international popularity beginning in the 1980s. Today the island is known for its exclusivity and posh tourism.[12]

21st century

Through island-wide referendum in 2003, island residents sought separation from the administrative jurisdiction of Guadeloupe, and it was finally accomplished in 2007. The island became a Overseas Collectivity (COM). A governing territorial council was elected for its administration, which has provided the island with a certain degree of autonomy. The Hotel de Ville, which was the town hall, is now the Hotel de la Collectivité. A senator represents the island in Paris. St. Barts has retained its free port status.[13][14]


Map showing location of Saint Barts relative to Sint Maarten/Saint Martin and St Kitts.
Map of Saint-Barthélemy

Located approximately 250 kilometres (160 mi) east of Puerto Rico and the nearer Virgin Islands, St. Barts lies immediately southeast of the islands of Saint Martin and Anguilla. It is separated from Saint Martin by the Saint-Barthélemy Channel. It lies northeast of Saba and St Eustatius, and north of St Kitts. Some small satellite islets belong to St. Barts including Île Chevreau (Île Bonhomme), Île Frégate, Île Toc Vers, Île Tortue and Gros Îlets (Îlots Syndare). A much bigger islet, Île Fourchue, lies on the north of the island, in the Saint-Barthélemy Channel. Other rocky islets which include Coco, the Roques (or little Turtle rocks), the Tortiie[verification needed], Toevers[verification needed], Grogatte[verification needed], the Goat[verification needed], and the Sugarloaf.[15] As a leeward island of the Caribbean Sea it has an average elevation of 130 m with a shore line of 58.9 kilometres (36.6 mi).[citation needed]

Marine areas

St. Barts forms, with St. Martin, Anguilla, and Dog Island, a distinct group that lies upon the western edge of a flat bank of soundings composed chiefly of shells, sand, and coral. From St. Barts, the bank extends east-southeast, ending in a small tongue or spit. It is separated from the main bank by a narrow length of deep water. East of the island, the edge of the bank lies 22 km away.[15]

Grande Saline Bay provides temporary anchorage for small vessels while Colombier Bay, to the northwest, has a 4 fathoms patch near mid entrance. In the bight of St. Jean Bay there is a narrow cut through the reef.[15] The north and east sides of the island are fringed, to a short distance from the shore, by a visible coral reef. Reefs are mostly in shallow waters and are clearly visible. The coastal areas abound with beaches and many of these have offshore reefs, some of which are part of a marine reserve.[13] The marine reserve, founded in 1999, covers more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of protected and vulnerable habitats, bays and islands, and includes a zone that is restricted to scientific observations only.[16] As the sea surrounding the St. Barts is rich in corral reefs and other precious marine life, the area has been declared a protected area since 1996. Environmental awareness is quite pronounced in St. Barts and is promoted by the Environmental Commission.[17]

View of Gustavia.
Shell Beach (Anse De Grand Galet).

There are as many as 22 public beaches of which 15 are considered suitable for swimming. They are categorized divided into two areas, the leeward side (calm waters protected by the island itself) and windward side (some of which are protected by hills and reefs). The windward beaches are popular for windsurfing. St Jean beach is suitable for water sports and all facilities have been created for the purpose. The long Lorient beach has shade and is a quiet beach as compared to the St. Jean beach.[18] The Grand-cul-de-sac is a long beach with facilities for water sports. Anse Toiny beach is in a remote location and is considered suitable for experienced surfers as the water current is very strong.[18] The Anse de Grande Saline beach is popular with nudists. On the leeward side, the notable beaches are: Anse du Gouverneur, the Anse du Colombier, and Anse des Flamands. The salt pond near the Flamands beach is marshy and is habitat for tropical birds.[verification needed] Ile islet, an offshoot of the leeward side, has a white sandy beach.[18][verification needed] Shell Beach, also called Anse de Grand Galet (in French, ‘Anse’ means “panhandle” and Galet means “pebble”), is a beach in the southwestern part of Gustavia. A large number of sea shells are scattered on this beach. This beach was subject to the strong waves of hurricane Lenny in 1999, which resulted in erosion of the sand. This necessitated supplementing the beach with new sand in 2000.[19]

On the north coast, on the far eastern side of the island, there are two lagoons called the Anse de Marigot[verification needed] and Anse du Grand Cul-de-Sac.[19]

Turtle and Whale[verification needed]

Interior areas

Morne Vitet, 286 m in height, is the highest peak in the island. There are few sheep pens built with stone walls on the slopes of the mountain. A hill road leads to the Grand Cul-de-Sac from where scenic views of the entire coast line can be witnessed.[19] Hills and valleys of varying topography cover the rest of the island.[13] Two other hills near the island's east end are of nearly the same elevation at 262 and 250 m above sea level.[15]

Populated areas

Small villages are seen spread out in the rolling hills in the interior. Gustavia, the capital of the island is located in a natural harbour which has witnessed many historical transitions. Yachts are a common sight in the harbour. The oldest settlement still remaining is the village of Lorient (or L'Orient). Lorient's sister village on the French mainland is the city of Lorient on the southern coast of Brittany. The population is spread among 40 quartiers, roughly corresponding to settlements. They are grouped into two halves:

Territorial subdivision into 40 quartiers
Satellite picture of the island
Sous le Vent
Au Vent
Nr Quartier Nr Quartier
Terre Neuve
Grande Vigie
La Grande Montagne
Anse des Lézards
Anse des Cayes
Le Palidor
Col de la Tourmente
Quartier du Roi
Le Château
La Pointe
Morne Criquet
Morne de Dépoudré
Anse du Gouverneur
Morne Rouge
Grande Saline
Petite Saline
Barrière des Quatres Vents
Grand Fond
Grand Cul-de-Sac
Pointe Milou
Mont Jean
Anse du Grand Cul-de-Sac
Petit Cul-de-Sac


The island covers an area of c. 21 km². The eastern side is wetter than the western. Though an arid terrain, the rainfall still averages 1000 mm but varies very widely. Summer is from May to November which is also the rainy season. Winter from December to April is the dry season. Sunshine is very prominent almost all through the year and even during the rainy season. Humidity, however, is not very high because of the winds. It has an average temperature of 25°C with day temperatures rising to 32°C. The average temperature in January is 28°C (22°C) while in July it is 30°C (24°C). The lowest night temperature recorded is 13°C. The Caribbean sea waters in the vicinity generally maintain a temperature of about 27°C.[20] Between May and November, brief showers of 10 to 15 minutes are commonplace. The island faces frequent catastrophic threats of cyclonic storms.


According to the 2008 census, St. Barts had 8,823 inhabitants,[2] with caucasian islanders forming the large majority.

The full-time residents are French citizens who work at the various establishments on the island. Most of them are descendants of the first settlers, Breton, Normand, Poitevin, Saintonge and Angevin lineage. French is the native tongue of the population, even though Norman dialect is still spoken by some.[6] English is understood in hotels and restaurants, although a small population of Anglophones has been resident in Gustavia for many years. The St. Barts French patois is spoken by some 500–700 people in the leeward portion of the island and is superficially related to Quebec French,[21][22][23] whereas Creole French is limited to the windward side. Unlike other populations in the Caribbean, language preference between the Creole and Patois is geographically determined, and not racially.[24][page needed]

Historical population
1766 1785 1812 1885 1961 1967 1974 1982 1990 1999 2007
327 950 5,482 2,600 2,176 2,351 2,491 3,059 5,038 6,852 8,450
Official figures from French and Swedish censuses.

Politics and government

Saint Barthélemy

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view · commune (commune de Saint-Barthélemy) part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas région and overseas département of France, and therefore part of the European Union. In 2003, the population voted through referendum in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France.[25] On 7 February 2007,[26] the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both St. Barts and (separately) to the neighbouring Saint Martin. The new status took effect on 15 July 2007, when the first territorial council was elected, according to the law.[27] The island has a president (elected every 5 years), a unicameral Territorial Council of 19 members who are elected by popular vote and serve for five-year terms, and an executive council of 7 members. Elections to these councils were last held on 1, 8 and 15 July 2007 with the next election due in July 2012.[28]

e • d Summary of the 2007 Saint Barthélemy Territorial Council election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Saint Barth First!/UMP (Saint-Barth d’abord!, Bruno Magras) 2,399 72.23 16
All United for Saint Barthélemy (Tous unis pour St-Barthélemy, Karine Miot-Richard) 330 9.94 1
Action Balance and Transparence (Action Équilibre et Transparence, Maxime Desouches) 330 9.94 1
Together for Saint Barthélemy (Ensemble pour St-Barthélemy, Benoît Chauvin) 262 7.89 1
Total 3,321 100.0 19
Source: RFO

One senator is representing the island in the French Senate, election was held on 21 September 2008 with the next election due in September 2014.[3] St. Barts remains part of the European Union : the island's inhabitants are French citizens with EU status holding EU passports. France is responsible for the defence of the island and as such has stationed a security force on the island comprising six policemen and 13 gendarmes (posted on two year term).[13]

The present head of the State is President Nicolas Sarkozy, since 16 May 2007, represented by a prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior. The island's national anthem representing a collectivity of France is "La Marseillaise".[3]


Blason St Barthélémy TOM entire.svg

The Coat of arms of Saint-Barthélemy is a shield divided into three horizontal stripes, three gold fleur-de-lises on blue, above a white Maltese cross on red, over three gold crowns on blue, and reads "Ouanalao". On a white background, it serves as the unofficial Flag of Saint Barthélemy.


Sailboats and yachts in St. Barts

Agricultural production on the island is difficult given the dry and rocky terrain, but the early settlers managed to produce vegetables, cotton, pineapples, salt, bananas and also fishing. Sweet potato is also grown in patches. The islanders developed commerce through the port of Gustavia. Duty-free port attractions, retail trade, high-end tourism (mostly from North America) and its luxury hotels and villas have increased the island's prosperity, reflected in the high standard of living of its citizens.[29] The official currency of St. Barts is the euro. INSEE estimated that the total GDP of St. Barts amounted to 179 million euros in 1999 (US$191 million at 1999 exchange rate; US$255 million at Oct. 2007 exchange rate).[30] In that same year the GDP per capita of St. Barts was 26,000 euros (US$27,700 at 1999 exchanges rates; US$37,000 at Oct. 2007 exchange rates), which was 10% higher than the average GDP per capita of metropolitan France in 1999.[30]


Corossol is noted for its handicrafts; weaving hats and bags from palm fronds are a low income economic activity of the indigenous people.[6]


International investment and the wealth generated by wealthy tourists explain the high standard of living on the island. St. Barts is considered a playground of the rich and famous,[citation needed] especially as a winter haven, and is known for its beaches, gourmet dining and high-end designers. Most of the food is imported by airplane or boat from the US or France. Tourism attracts about 200,000 visitors every year. As a result, there is a boom in house building activity catering to the tourists and also to the permanent residents of the island, with prices as high as €61,200,000 for a beachfront villa.[31] St. Barts has about 25 hotels, most of them with 15 rooms or fewer. The largest has 58 rooms. Hotels are classified in the traditional French manner; 3 Star, 4 Star and 4 Star Luxe. Most of places of accommodation are in the form of private villas, of which there are some 400 available to rent on the island.[13] The island's tourism industry, though expensive, attracts 70,000 visitors every year to its luxury hotels and villas and another 130,000 people arrive by luxury boats. It also attracts a labour force from Brazil and Portugal to meet the industry needs.[32]

The height of tourism is New Year's Eve, with celebrities and the wealthy converging on the island in yachts up to 550 ft in length for the occasion.[33] Hotels for New Years are sold out well in advance.


During Swedish rule, education was cantonized.[34] French-Catholic schooling was provided to residents in the agricultural areas while those in the capital area received a Protestant English language education.[34]



Vegetation at Baie de Saint-Jean

As the terrain is generally arid, the hills have mostly poor soil and support only cacti and succulent plants. During the rainy season the area turns green with vegetation and grass. The eastern part of the island is greener as it receives more rainfall. A 1994 survey has revealed several hundred indigenous species of plants including the naturalized varieties of flora; some growing in irrigated areas while the dry areas are dominated by the cacti variety. Sea grapes and palm trees are a common sight with mangroves and shrubs surviving in the saline coastal swamps. Coconut palm was brought to the island from the Pacific islands. Important plants noted on the island are:[35] The Flamboyant trees of Madagascar, which have feathery leaves and blooms with clusters of orange red flowers, the frangipanis of many varieties with pointed waxy leaves and which bloom in different colours of white, red and yellow, latanier or sabal palms at Lorient, wild trumpet (poui or pourier) trees, Manchineel trees on the sandy beaches which are harmful and even poisonous;[35] anaconda or geranium trees etc. common.

Other trees of note include the royal palm, Sea grape trees in the form of shrubs in the beaches and as 5–7 m trees in the interior areas of the island, aloe or aloe vera (brought from the Mediterranean),[36] the night blooming cereus, mamillaria nivosa, yellow prickly pear or barbary fig which was planted as barbed wire defences against invading British army in 1773, Mexican cactus, stapelia gigantea, golden trumpet or yellow bell which was originally from South America, bougainvillea and others.[13][37][38]


Terrestrial animals found in the island were all brought from other countries since indigenous species did not exist in the island. Mongoose was the first animal, brought to eliminate the menace of rats and snakes. However, over the years they multiplied so largely that they became irritants. Iguanas were also imported into the island and are now scarce as they are seen only as pets in resorts.[39] Marine mammals are many, such as the dolphins, porpoises and whales, which are seen here during the migration period from December till May. Turtles are a common sight along the coast line of the island. They are a protected species and in the endangered list. It is stated that it will take 15–50 years for this species to attain reproductive age. Though they live in the sea, the females come to the shore to lay eggs and are protected by private societies. Three species of turtles are particularly notable. These are: The Leatherback Turtles which have leather skin instead of a shell and are the largest of the type found here, some times measuring a much as 3 m (average is about 1.5 m) and weighing about 450 kg - Jelly fish is their favourite diet; the Hawkbill Turtles, which have hawk like beaks and found near reefs, generally about 90 cm in diameter and weigh about 60 kg and their diet consists of crabs and snails; and the Green Turtles, herbivores which have rounded heads, generally about 90  cm in diameter and live amidst tall sea grasses.[13][39] The island has 12 reptile and amphibian species of which two (EVRI) are threatened.


Frigate Bird

Avifauna in the wild, both native and migrating include brown pelican along the shore line, magnificent frigate birds with long spans of up to 1.8 m, the green backed heron, the snowy egrets, the kingfisher; the Bananaquits; broadwinged hawks; two species of hummingbirds, the green throated Carib and Antillean Crested Hummingbird; two species of doves, the Zenaida doves and common turtle doves.[13][40]


The marine life found here consists of Anemones, urchins, sea cucumbers, and eels, which all live on the reefs along with turtles, conch and many varieties of marine fishes.[41] The marine aquafauna is rich in Conch, which has pearly-pink shells. Its meat is a favourite food supplement item and their shells are a collectors item. Other species of fish which are recorded close to the shore line in shallow waters are: sergeant majors, the blue chromis, brown chromis, surgeon fish; blue tangs and trumpet fish. On the shore are Ghost crabs, which always live on the beach in small burrowed tunnels made in sand, and the Hermit crabs, which live in land but lay eggs in water and which also eat garbage and sewerage. They spend some months in the sea during and after the hatching season.[42]

Landmarks and architecture

Apart from Gustavia, the capital of St. Barts there are many notable places and monuments in the island which testify to the colonial regime of the Spanish, Swedes, the British and the French, and now a French territory.[19]


Gustavia Harbour

Gustavia is in a U shaped cove facing the harbour on the west. The water side arm of this cove is in a peninsula while the dockyard is on the east side. The harbour ferry dock on the land side and the tourist office are located to the right of harbour facing the sea. The left arm of the U-shaped harbour is a peninsula whose tip is called the La Pointe where Fort Oscar and the Wall House are situated.

When the British invaded the harbour town in 1744[verification needed], the town’s architectural buildings were destroyed[verification needed]. Subsequently, new structures were built in the town around the harbour area[verification needed] and the Swedes had also further added to the architectural beauty of the town in 1785 with more buildings, when they had occupied the town. Earlier to their occupation, the port was known as "Carénage". The Swedes renamed it as Gustavia in honour of their king Gustav III. It was then their prime trading center. The port maintained a neutral stance since the Caribbean war was on in the 18th century. They used it as trading post of contraband and the city of Gustavia prospered but this prosperity was short lived.[14] These buildings also under went further destruction during the hurricanes and also by gutting in 1852. However, some monuments are still intact such as the residence of the then Swedish governor known as Mairie[verification needed], which is now the town hall[verification needed]. The oldest colonial structure in the town is stated to be the bell tower (now without a bell) built in 1799, as part of a church (destroyed in the past), in the southeast end of the town on Rue Du Presbytere. Now, a large clock is installed in place of the bell.[19]

The road that runs parallel to the harbour face of the sea called the Rue de la Republique and two other roads connect to the two arms of the U-shaped bay. The city has a network of roads, inherited from the Swedish period, that are laid in a grid pattern, which are either parallel or perpendicular to the three main roads that encompass the bay.[43]

Église catholique de Gustavia

Église catholique de Gustavia, the Saint-Bartholomew Anglican Church, is an important religious building in the town built in 1885 with stones brought from St Eustatius. It is on one of the most elegant roads of the town called the Rue du Centenaire. It has a bell tower. A rock wall encircles the church.[19]

Ancien presbytère de l'église catholique de Gustavia

Ancien presbytère de l'église catholique de Gustavia is the Catholic Church built in 1822 is a replacement of the oldest church of the same name in Lorient.[verification needed] This church also has a bell tower which is separated from the main church and which rings loud and clear.[19]

Musée Territorial de St.-Barthélemy

Musée Territorial de St.-Barthélemy is a historical museum known as the "St. Barts Municipal Museum" also called the "Wall House" (musée – bibliothèque) in Gustavia, which is located on the far end of La Pointe. The museum is housed in an old stone house, a two-storey building which has been refurbished. The island’s past history relating to French, Swedish and British period of occupation is well presented in the museum with photographs, maps and paintings. Also on display are the ancestral costumes, antique tools, models of Creole houses and ancient fishing boats. It also houses a library.[19][29]

Gustavia Lighthouse

Gustavia Lighthouse

The 9 metres (30 ft) white tower of the Gustavia Lighthouse was built in 1961. Situated on the crest of a hill north of the town, its focal plane is 64 metres (210 ft) above the level of the sea. It flashes every 12 seconds, white, green or red depending on direction. The round conical tower has a single red band at the top.[44] The lantern which formerly was used in the lighthouse is now on display at the Musée Municipal de St.-Barthélemy in Gustavia.

Le Manoir de St. Barthélemy

Another interesting structure in village of Lorient is the Le Manoir de St. Barthélemy which was built by transporting in segments a Norman House built in 1610 to St. Barts in 1984. This reassembly of the old building in St. Barts was the creation of an author of a French book on the history of St. Barts.


Among the notable structures in the town are the three forts built by the Swedes for defense purposes. One of these forts, known as Fort Oscar (formerly Gustav Adolph), which overlooks the sea is located on the far side of La Pointe. However, the ruins have been replaced by a modern military building which now houses the local gendarmerie. The other fort known as Fort Karl now presents a very few ruins. The third fort built by the Swedes is the Fort Gustav, which is also seen in ruins strewn around the weather station and the Light House. The fort built in 1787 over a hill slope has ruins of ramparts, guardhouse, munitions depot, wood-burning oven and so forth.[19][29]


A statue, "Savaku", representing the Arawak Indians is present at Saint-Jean.[45]


Festivals and holidays

Some of the festivals held each year in St. Barts are:

  • The St. Barts Music Festival held every January, usually during the 2nd and 3rd weeks.
  • A French Carnival in February/March held for two weeks before Ash Wednesday and concluding with Ash Wednesday; on Ash Wednesday a black and white parade held at Shell Beach is the occasion to a notional burning of the image of Vaval, the Carnival King
  • St. Barts Festival of Caribbean Cinema when Caribbean films are screened
  • Armistice Day on May 8
  • Abolition of Slavery Day on May 27 & October 9
  • Bastille Day on July 14
  • Victor Schoelcher Day on July 21 honouring Schoelcher, a French parliamentarian for his noble humanitarian act of abolishing slavery in French territory on April 27, 1848
  • Assumption Day on August 15
  • Fete de Saint, Barthélemy feast day of Saint Barthélemy on August 24 in honour of the patron saint of the island when the church bells peel and the boats are blessed, and is followed by regatta and fireworks concluded with a public ball
  • Festival of Gustavia held in August, an occasion of dragnet fishing and partying.
  • All Saints Day on November 1;
  • Remembrance Day or Armistice Day WWI
  • Christmas Day on December 25; and New Year’s Eve on December 31.[46]

Some other festivals held are the Festival Gastronomique (April) and Yacht Festival (May).[47] The national holidays observed are the Bastille Day and St. Barthélemy Day (day of adoption of French Constitution).[3] Feast of St Louis[verification needed] is held on November 1 when thousands of candles are lit in the evening hours, which is a public holiday. All Souls Day is observed on November 2, and it is public holiday.[48]


The island is part of the Caribbean music culture, the birthplace of the calypso, meringue, soca, zouk and reggae.[49] The St. Barts Music Festival is a major international performing arts event held every year, often during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of January. Live performances are held every night, or every other night, for about two weeks. Performances include ballet, orchestra, chamber music, opera and jazz. The Festival performers also do outreach to the schools of St Barts and there is considerable childrens participation. And every summer the island's Festival has a sister performing arts festival in the French countryside called "72 Hours of Music" and is held during the 3rd weekend of every August at a castle 2 hours south of Paris called Chateau Ainay le Vieil, in the Berry region famous for Joan of Arc / Jeanne d'Arc. The 72 Hours of Music also includes considerable music outreach to the children.


French cuisine, West Indian cuisine, Creole cuisine, Italian cuisine and Asian cuisine are common in St. Barts. The island has over 70 restaurants serving many dishes and others are a significant number of gourmet restaurants; many of the finest restaurants are located in the hotels.[50] There are also a number of snack restaurants which the French call "les snacks" or "les petits creux" which include sandwiches, pizzas and salads.[51] West Indian cuisine, steamed vegetables with fresh fish is common; Creole dishes tend to be spicier.[51] The island hosts gastronomic events throughout the year, with dishes such as spring roll of shrimp and bacon, fresh grilled lobster, Chinese noodle salad with coconut milk, and grilled beef fillet etc.[52]

In the early 1990s, the island had two cooking schools: the Saint Barts Cooking School which had emphasis on classical French cuisine, and Cooking in Paradise which had emphasis on creole cuisine.[53]


The traditional costume which is seen only among older women consists of starched white bonnets called kichnottes.[6]

The tropical location and natural beauty of St. Barts makes it a prime location for modelling photo shoots, particularly for swimwear publications. St. Barts is also a winter getaway for many fashion models in the industry.


A popular legend related to St. Barts is of a seafarer hooligan looking to loot Spanish ships. A French pirate Daniel Montbars, who was given the epithet “Montbars the Exterminator”, took shelter in St. Barts during his pirate operations and hid the loot in the sandy coves at Anse du Gouverneur.[54]


Kitesurfing at Baie de Saint-Jean

Rugby is a popular sport in the island One of the major teams on the island is "Les Barracudas", named after a ferocious fish of the Caribbean. They often play teams from Anguilla and other surrounding islands.[55] The junior national French surf champion from Lorient achieved success in 2006.

Gustavia is also known as a haven for yachting, with many events being held in Gustavia. These events are the Saint-Barth Regatta during February, the Saint Barth’s Cup in April and the International Regatta in May. Deep sea fishing is also undertaken by Anglers from the waterfront of Lorient, Flamands and Corossol to fish for tuna, marlin, bonito, barracuda and wahoo.[56] St Barth Open Fishing tournament is held in July.[48] Transat AG2R Race, held every alternate year, is an event which originates in Concarneau in Brittany, France, reaching St. Barts. It is a boat race with boats of 10 m length with a single hull and with essential safety equipment. Each boat is navigated by two sailors. Kitesurfing and other water sports have also become popular on the island in recent years, especially at Grand Cul-de-Sac beach (Baie de Grand Cul de Sac) for windy sports as Kitesurfing and Saint Jean Beach ( Baie de Saint Jean), Lorient, Toiny and Anse des Cayes for surfing. Tennis is also popular on the island and it has several tennis clubs, Tennis Clube de Flamboyant in Grand Cul-de-Sac, AJOE Tennis Club in Orient and ASCO in Colombier.[57] All the Tennis facilities are lighted, and the tennis club in St. Jean includes a stadium for spectators.

The Swedish Marathon Race, also called the Gustavialoppet, is held in December. Races of 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) are conducted when children, women and men participate in the races.[48]

The island has many local sports and facilities, including a lighted football stadium with astroturf, lighted archery facilities, Judo club with its own building, Taekwando club with its own building, a public pool with lessons and a swim team, and a rugby facility.


Private boat docked in St. Barts

St. Barts has a small airport known as Gustaf III Airport on the north coast of the island that is served by small regional commercial aircraft and charters. It has a paved runway of 650 m length. All visiting aircraft carry fewer than twenty passengers, such as the Twin Otter, a common sight around St. Barts and throughout the northern West Indies. The short airstrip is at the base of a gentle slope ending directly on the beach at St Jean. The arrival descent is over the hilltop traffic circle and departing planes fly right over the heads of sunbathers on St. Jean Beach (although small signs advise sunbathers not to lie directly at the end of the runway).

The nearest commercial jet airport is on the neighboring Dutch island of Sint Maarten: Princess Juliana International Airport, which is preferred to use[citation needed] and then take a connecting flight (regional carrier) to St. Barts. Several international airlines and domestic Caribbean airlines operate in this sector.[58][59] Many Inter Inland ferry services operate regularly between St. Martin and St. Barts.[58] There are three airlines which serve the island, Win-Air and St. Barth's Commuter fly regularly to St. Martin Princess Julianna, and Tradewind Aviation services St. Thomas and San Juan.

Some others arriving on the island access it by ferry, private charter boat or yacht. Daily ferry service is also available. St Barts is a stop off point for various international cruise lines, although the harbour is too small to accommodate the cruise ships so they anchor off shore and bring small groups on tenders.

The narrow and congested roads, and difficulty in parking, have been an impetus for driving Smart cars.[60][verification needed] Many visitors rent cars as there are many sites and restaurants outside of Gustavia.


A weekly journal entitled Journal de St. Barth is published in the French language. Its English language abridged version is published as St. Barth Weekly only during the winter months. Other tourist related information is available at the airport and in the offices of the Tourist Authority.[13]

There is no local TV broadcasting station. However, the island has three FM radio channels, out of which two operate via repeaters. The island has a fully integrated access telephone system and with capability for direct dial on fixed and wireless systems.[61]

Health facilities

The island has a small hospital called the 'Hopital de Bruyn' in Gustavia with an adjacent diagnostic laboratory, there is also at least one private diagnostic facility.[62] Specialists in cardiology, general medicine, dentists, ENT, OB/GYN, paediatrics and rheumatology are also available. There are many pharmacies dispensing medicines. For more sophisticated facilities, patients go to Guadeloupe, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami or France.[13]

Notable people

  • Eugénie Blanchard was the world's oldest person (114 years, 261 days) at the time of her death on 4 November 2010. She was born on St. Barts and spent most of her life on Curaçao and St. Barts.[63]

See also


  1. ^ World factbook Saint Barthelemy
  2. ^ a b (French) INSEE. "Les populations légales 2008 entrent en vigueur le 1er janvier 2011.". Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "The World Fact Book". Government. CIA Fact Book. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  4. ^ R. P. Raymond BRETON. Dictionnaire caraïbe-françois, Auxerre, Chez Gilles Bouquet, 1665.
  5. ^ "The World Fact Book". Geography. CIA Fact Book. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d Cameron, Sarah (1 October 2007). Footprint Caribbean Islands. Footprint Travel Guides. pp. 590. ISBN 9781904777977. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  7. ^ Sullivan, p. 22–23
  8. ^ Ordinance concerning the Police of Slaves and free Coloured People. Source: 'Mémoire St Barth', Saint-Barthélemy.; Francine M. Mayer, and Carolyn E. Fick, "Before and After Emancipation: Slaves and Free Coloreds of Saint-Barthelemy (French West Indies) in The 19th Century." Scandinavian Journal of History 1993 18 (4): 251–273.
  9. ^ « 9 octobre » (1847) Source: 'Mémoire St Barth', Saint-Barthélemy. (French).
  10. ^ Sullivan, p. 24
  11. ^ Sullivan, pp. 157-159
  12. ^ Sullivan (2003), p. 157-159
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nash, KC (2008). St Barts Travel Adventures. Hunter Publishing, Inc. pp. 14–. ISBN 9781588437044. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "The World Fact Book". Introduction. CIA Fact Book. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c d Barnett, Edward; Great Britain. Hydrographic Office (1876). The West India pilot: The Caribbean Sea, from Barbados to Cuba; with the Bahama and Bermuda islands, and Florida Strait. Published by order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty for the Hydrographic Office and sold by J. D. Potter. pp. 109–112. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  16. ^ Speight, Martin R.; Henderson, P. A. (2010). Marine Ecology: Concepts and Applications. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 227–. ISBN 9781444335453. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  17. ^ Sullivan, pp. 3
  18. ^ a b c Sullivan, p.177-178
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sullivan, pp. 170–173
  20. ^ Sullivan, p.4
  21. ^ Calvet, Louis Jean; Brown, Andrew (30 June 2006). Towards an ecology of world languages. Polity. p. 239. ISBN 9780745629568. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  22. ^ Albert Valdman (1997). French and Creole in Louisiana. Springer. pp. 247–. ISBN 9780306454646. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  23. ^ Wittmann, Henri. Grammaire comparée des variétés coloniales du français populaire de Paris du 17e siècle et origines du français québécois. Le français des Amériques, ed. Robert Fournier & Henri Wittmann, 281–334. Trois-Rivières: Presses universitaires de Trois-Rivières, 1995;
  24. ^ CALVET, Louis-Jean et Robert Chaudenson. Saint-Barthélemy: une énigme linguistique, Paris, CIRELFA, Agence de la Francophonie, 1998, 165 p.
  25. ^ Staff reporter (9 December 2003). "French Caribbean voters reject change". Caribbean Net News. Retrieved 9 February 2007. "However voters on the two tiny French dependencies of Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, which have been administratively attached to Guadeloupe, approved the referendum and are set to acquire the new status of "overseas collectivity"." 
  26. ^ Magras, Bruno (16 February 2007). "Letter of Information from the Mayor to the residents and non-residents, to the French and to the foreigners, of Saint Barthélemy". St. Barth Weekly. p. 2. Retrieved 18 February 2007. "On 7 February of this year, the French Parliament adopted the law granting Saint Barthélemy the Statute of an Overseas Collectivity." 
  27. ^, détail d'un texte. (French)
  28. ^ "Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293". Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  29. ^ a b c "St Barts Island". St. Barths Online Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  30. ^ a b (French) INSEE, CEROM. "Estimation du PIB de Saint-Barthélemy et de Saint-Martin" (PDF). 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "The World Fact Book". Economy. CIA Fact Book. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b Graff, Harvey J.; Mackinnon, Alison; Sandin, Bengt; Ian Winchester (30 April 2010). Understanding Literacy in Its Historical Contexts: Socio-Cultural History and the Legacy of Egil Johansson. Nordic Academic Press. pp. 69–. ISBN 9789185509072. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  35. ^ a b Sullivan, p.7
  36. ^ Sullivan, p.8
  37. ^ Sullivan, p.9
  38. ^ Sullivan, p.10
  39. ^ a b Sullivan, pp. 11–12
  40. ^ Sullivan, pp. 12–13
  41. ^ Sullivan, p.181
  42. ^ Sullivan, pp. 13–14
  43. ^ Sullivan, p. 170
  44. ^ "Lighthouses of St.-Barthélemy". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  45. ^ Cécile Lucot (20 September 2007). "Inauguration de la statue en bronze placée au centre du rond-point du col de la Tourmente". St Barths Online. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  46. ^ Sullivan, p.173
  47. ^ Henderson, James (1 October 2005). Caribbean & the Bahamas. New Holland Publishers. pp. 323–324. ISBN 9781860112126. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  48. ^ a b c Cameron, pp.588
  49. ^ Sullivan, p.18
  50. ^ Cameron, pp.586–587
  51. ^ a b Sullivan, p.206
  52. ^ "Restaurants". St. Barths Online. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  53. ^ Harris, Jessica B. (15 February 1991). Sky juice and flying fish: traditional Caribbean cooking. Simon and Schuster. pp. 41–42. ISBN 9780671681654. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  54. ^ Sullivan, p.22
  55. ^ "Anguillan times". Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  56. ^ Sullivan, p.180
  57. ^ Sullivan, p.183
  58. ^ a b Sullivan, p. 160
  59. ^ "The World Fact Book". Transport. CIA Fact Book. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  60. ^ Kohn, Michael; Landon, Robert; Kohnstamm, Thomas (2006). Colombia. Lonely Planet. pp. 145–. ISBN 9781741042849. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  61. ^ "The World Fact Book". Communications. CIA Fact Book. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  62. ^ Laboratoire Saint-Barthelemy
  63. ^ "Eugenie Blanchard dies at 114; nun was considered the world's oldest person". Los Angeles Times. 2010-11-05.,0,5016453.story. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 


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Coordinates: 17°54′N 62°50′W / 17.9°N 62.833°W / 17.9; -62.833

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