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History of Saint-Barthélemy

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Saint-Barthélemy, officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy, was once called Ouanalao by the Taíno Indians that lived on the Island before European settlement.

St. Barth, St. Barths, or St. Barts, as it is often abbreviated, is an overseas collectivity of France in the West Indies. It is located 35 kilometers (22 mi) southeast of St. Martin and north of St. Kitts.

For many years St. Barth was a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe an overseas region and department of France. In 2003, the island voted in favor of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France. The collectivity is one of four territories among the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies, along with Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.

The Island is volcanic and fully enclosed by shallow reefs.


Before European Arrival

The Island was home to the Eastern Caribbean Taíno Indians.


In 1493, Christopher Columbus came across the Island during his travels through the Caribbean, he named the Island after his brother Bartolomeo.

The Island was not colonized at this point but was visited several times over the years.


In 1648, around 50 to 60 settlers from neighboring Island Saint-Christophe attempted to establish a cocoa-cultivating settlement.

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