Guadeloupe is an insular region of France located in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. We are visiting the island of Terre-de-Haut which I will describe in more detail in a bit. Administratively, Guadeloupe is an overseas region consisting of a single overseas department. With a land area of 629 square miles and an estimated population of 400,132, it is the largest and most populous European Union territory in North America. Guadeloupe, like the other overseas departments, is an integral part of France. As a constituent territory of the European Union and the Eurozone, the euro is its official currency and any European Union citizen is free to settle and work there indefinitely. The regional capital of Guadeloupe is the city of Basse-Terre, which lies on the island of the same name. The official language is French and Antillean Creole is spoken virtually by the entire population except recent arrivals from metropolitan France. But, our guide told us that just about everyone speaks either English or Broken English (yeah, she was fun). The island is called "Gwadada" by the locals.
During his second trip to the Americas, in November 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on Guadeloupe, while seeking fresh water. He called it Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, after the image of the Virgin Mary venerated at the Spanish monastery of Villuercas in Guadalupe. The expedition set ashore, but left no settlers behind. Columbus is credited with discovering the pineapple on the island, although the fruit had long been grown in South America. He called it piña de Indias, which can be correctly translated as "pine cone of the Indies."
In 1946, the colony of Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France. In 1967, rallies became riots, and repression caused dozens of deaths. The Guadeloupe Conference was a meeting held by four Western powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and West Germany in Guadeloupe Island from 4 to 7 January 1979.
In 2007 the island communes of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy were officially detached from Guadeloupe and became two separate French overseas collectivities with their own local administration. In January 2009, an umbrella group of approximately fifty labor union and other associations called for a $260 monthly pay increase for the island's low income workers. The protesters proposed that authorities "lower business taxes as a top up to company finances" to pay for the pay raises. Tourism suffered greatly during this time and affected the 2010 tourist season as well. The 2009 French Caribbean general strikes exposed deep ethnic, racial, and class tensions and disparities within Guadeloupe.
So let’s be clear about where we are. Terre-de-Haut is a speck in the sea that is part of the island nation of Guadeloupe, and as you were previously informed, an “overseas department” of France. It’s all found in the Caribbean Sea amongst a group of islands known as the Lesser Antilles. Terre-de-Haut is so tiny that it’s not even included on most maps of Guadeloupe. A refreshing trade wind adds a cooling breeze to the tropical climate that the islands enjoy. Average daily temperatures range from 77 to 82 degrees, but it also gets a little humid so the breeze helps cool things down a bit.
We took a guided tour of Fort Napoleon and then walked around the tiny town by ourselves. During the tour of the fort our guide mentioned that the fort had never seen a battle, war or any other conflict. Didn’t stop one of the tourist to brag to his wife that the fort was built by his country and that’s why it still looks so good. I had to add that something that had never been used may have something to do with looking good. The town's streets are wide enough for one car to pass and there are no sidewalks, to speak of, for pedestrians.