Guadalupe, things to see and do

The eastern Caribbean island of Guadeloupe was first discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to America in 1493.  He named that island Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura (which would later be shortened to Guadelupe).  Although he himself never settled on the island, Spanish settlers eventually did make their way to Guadeloupe.  With the Spanish being driven out by Carib Indians during the 17th century, the French successfully colonized the island and drove the Indians out, officially making it part of the kingdom of France in 1674.


For a period before and after the French Revolution, possession of Guadeloupe constantly changed hands between the British and the French (even being ceded to Sweden for a brief period in 1813-1814).  With the French regaining control over Guadeloupe in 1815, it would become an overseas French department in 1946, officially making it a full-fledged part of France (as opposed to its previous colonial status).  Nowadays, four deputies from the island sit in the French National Assembly in Paris, and three senators to the French Senate.


With the island economy once being based on sugar exports, tourism is now a key industry there (while still being dependent on France for large subsidies and imports).  The majority of tourists fly in from (mainland) France (83%), with nearly 11% coming in from other parts of Europe.  This, while just over 3% of Guadeloupe’s tourists arrive from USA, and just 1.5% from Canada.


Geographically, Guadeloupe is located just north of the former British colony Dominica, and south of the former British colonies of Montserrat, and Antigua & Barbuda – all northern islands within the Lesser Antilles chain in the eastern Caribbean.  The island of Guadeloupe itself, even though it appears on maps to have the shape of a butterfly, is technically two islands (the western one being Basse-Terre, the eastern one being Grande-Terres), which are separated by a narrow sea channel called Salt River).  The most distinguishing feature of Basse-Terre is La Grande Soufrière – an active volcano and also the highest mountain peak in the Eastern Caribbean (standing at 1,467 meters high).  There are three smaller islands that are part of Guadeloupe:  Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, and La Désirade.