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 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, February 12, 2009 at 06:12:54

Pointe Nord de la Grande Terre, Pointe de la Grande Vigie, GuadeloupeGuadeloupe, sometimes known as the Butterfly Island (French: l'ile Papillon), is an island group or archipelago located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is an overseas department of France. Guadeloupe's two main islands (Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre) look like the wings of a butterfly and are joined together by a mangrove swamp, a narrow sea channel called Salt River.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Guadeloupe on November 3, 1493, seeking fresh water. French colonies were established in 1635, Guadeloupe was finally annexed by the French in 1674, and, in 1946, the islands were given the status of Overseas Departments.

The Guadeloupe Archipelago includes the large islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, the nearby islands of Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, La Désirade, Petite Terre, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy.

Trou du Souffleur, Porte d'Enfer, GuadeloupeGrande-Terre (Large Land) is the eastern island with its northernmost point: Pointe de la Grande Vigie. The most populated communes are Les Abymes, Le Gosier, Pointe-à-Pitre (all 3 part of the Pointe-à-Pitre urban area), Le Moule, Sainte-Anne, and Morne-à-l'Eau.

Basse-Terre Island (île de Basse-Terre or île de la Basse-Terre) is the western island. The largest city on Basse-Terre Island is the city of Basse-Terre. The most populated communes are Baie-Mahault, Petit-Bourg, Lamentin, Saint-Claude - at the base of the Soufrière volcano (La Grande Soufrière) - (all part of Pointe-à-Pitre urban area), Capesterre-Belle-Eau, Sainte-Rose and Basse-Terre.

Les Saintes (Îles des Saintes), is located about 15 km southwest of Guadeloupe. It's composed of 9 small islands, and only 2 are populated, Terre-de-Haut Island and Terre-de-Bas Island, with Terre-de-Haut Island having the central place and a natural harbour, guarded by the Fort Napoléon.

Beach in Les Saintes, GuadeloupeLa Désirade is located about 8 km off the coast of Grande-Terre. The commune of La Désirade is made up of the island of La Désirade and the uninhabited Petite Terre Islands. The administrative centre of the commune is the settlement of Beauséjour.

Marie-Galante, also known as "La grande galette", is divided in three communes: Grand-Bourg, Capesterre-de-Marie-Galante, and Saint-Louis. Its highest peak, the hill Morne Constant, rises to 670 ft.

Petite Terre Islands (Îles de la Petite Terre) are two small uninhabited islands (Petite Terre - made up of two islands: Terre de Bas island and Terre de Haut island - and Grande-Terre island) located about 10 km to the south-east of the island of Grande-Terre.

Saint Barthélemy (or: Saint Barth in French, St. Barts in English), the jet set island, lies near the islands of Saint Martin, Saba and Anguilla. Some small satellite islets also belong to Saint Barthélemy: Île Chevreau (Île Bonhomme), Île Frégate, Île Toc Vers, Île Tortue and Gros Îlets (Îlots Syndare). Gustavia, named after King Gustav III of Sweden, is the capital of Saint Barthélemy.

Saint Martin is divided in half between France (Guadeloupe) and the Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten). The main towns are Philipsburg (Dutch side), Marigot and Grand Case (French side).

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