Guadeloupe(ˌɡwɑːd ə ˈluːp) is an island department of France located in the Windward group of islands in the Lesser Antilles, located 16 15 N, 61 35 W. The island has a total area of 1,780 sq km. Basse-Terre is the capital, with French as the official language, but most people speak french creole.
The island has a total population of 440,189, with a life-expectancy of 77.53. The island is 90% black or mulatto, 5% white and East Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, which comprise 5% of the population. The island is 95% Roman Catholic, 4% Hindu and traditional African, and 1% Protestant. Guadeloupe has a 90% literacy rate.
Caribs were the original inhabitants of Guadeloupe. They called the island Kurukera or island of beautiful waters. Columbus discovered the island on November 3,1493 and named it Maria de Guadelupe(Virgin of Guadelupe) of Extremadura, Spain. The French companies tried to colonized the island in 1635 but failed four times. In 1674, Guadeloupe was annexed by France and made a dependency of Martinique.
Guadeloupe changed hands several times from the French to the British. The British captured the island in 1759. The French regained the territory in 1763. It switched to the British in 1794 and 1810. By 1775, Martinique and Guadeloupe became separate territories.
The first African slaves arrived in 1650. The Code Noir controlled the treatment of slaves, punishment could be beatings, imprisonment, burning by iron, and hangings. Slaves were used mainly in the production of sugar, planting sugar cane.
Maroon societies sprang up in the forest of Guadeloupe, especially after 1730. In 1736, A maroon society in the mountains of Pointe Noire attempted island wide revolt, but the plan was discovered, and its leaders hanged and tortured.
During the French Revolution, slavery was temporarily ended, but re-instituted in 1802. Slavery was finally abolished in 1848, by Victor Schoelcher. Indentured workers were imported from India to address labor shortages, but proved inadequate for the sugar industry.
In 1946, Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France. Unlike other French Departments, the Guadeloupe voice of independence took a vocal and aggressive and sometimes violent stance for independence from France.
CIA Factbook, Guadeloupe
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Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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