Guadeloupe History

Guadeloupe History

Guadeloupe is a French overseas department in the Caribbean ( DOM-ROM ) consisting of a number of islands with a total area of ​​1,628 km². The archipelago has 400,736 residents and belongs to the Lesser Antilles. The archipelago consists of the two main islands Basse-Terre to the west, and Grande-Terre to the east, which are separated by a narrow strait crossed by bridges. The smaller islands are la Désirade, Marie-Galante and les des Saintes.

According to, Guadeloupe is sometimes referred to as the “Butterfly Island”, as the shapes of the two islands resemble the wings of a butterfly.


300 – The archipelago was originally inhabited by the Arawak Indians, and then the Caribbean, who originally lived in Venezuela and spread throughout the Caribbean.

1493 – On November 4, Christopher Columbus discovers the islands during his second expedition.

1635 – French colonists settle on the island.

1644 – Sugarcane is planted on the island.

1650 – The first African slaves arrive.

1674 – Guadeloupe becomes a French possession, dependent on Martinique.

1703 – English conquest of Fort St. Charles and Basse-Terre, but illness and hunger forced them to retire.

1759-1763 – During the Seven Years’ War, the British invade Guadeloupe. Plantations were destroyed and the island surrendered. The British built a port on Pointe-a-Pitre, established sugar plantations and imported about 18,000 slaves.

1762 – Basse-Terre becomes the seat of government and the seat of the court.

1763 – The Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War and Guadeloupe is restored to French sovereignty.

1770 – Coffee plantations are gradually established, which accelerated the growth of slavery.

1775 – Guadeloupe freed himself from Martinique, but was still the governor of the French Windward Islands. Guadeloupe became a major importer of cocoa.

1784 – Trade is allowed between Guadeloupe and US citizens.

1794 – The French Convention abolishes slavery, but it is reintroduced by Napoleon again in 1802.

1795 – Guadeloupe becomes a French territory.

1799 – France’s national constitution ( Constitution of the Year VIII ) makes that French colonies will be subject to special laws. Guadeloupe is brought back to the status of colony and lost representation in the General Assembly.

1801 – A consular decree stipulates that Guadeloupe will be governed by three judges; a general captain, a prefect and a civilian commissioner.

1802 – France recaptures Guadeloupe and Napoleon reintroduces slavery.

1808 – The number of slaves grows to 122,895.

1809 – British conquest of Basse-Terre.

1810 – The British occupy Guadeloupe.

1813-1814 – Guadeloupe is surrendered to Swedish possession, but is still occupied by Britain. Sweden banned the slave trade.

1815 – British occupation of Guadeloupe again.

1825 – A hurricane destroys Basse-Terre.

1843 – Pointe-a-Pitre is nearly destroyed by an earthquake on February 8, and fires destroy everything left. 3000 residents were killed.

1845 – A census in October reveals a population of 129,109, of whom 41,357 are free people and 87,752 are slaves.

1848 – Slavery is abolished on April 27, making 72,000 slaves free men.

1854 – First contractual servants arrive on the island.

1865-1866 – Guadeloupe loses 12,000 of its 150,000 residents to a cholera epidemic.

1879 – A census in April shows that the population is 174,231 people.

1897 – An earthquake causes severe damage, leading to economic crisis.

1904 – Crisis in the sugar market causes political and economic problems.

1923 – Guadeloupe exports their first bananas.

1928 – A hurricane hits Pointe-a-Pitre, killing 2,000 people and destroying 90% of people’s homes.

1940 – A US blockade of Guadeloupe’s shipping routes prevents supplies from reaching the colony.

1941 – “Fighting pagan life” is introduced, which means that everyone on the island is obliged to wear labor bank books.

1961-1965 – Independence, political agitation and unrest.

1967 – Point-à-Pitre riots and confrontations with police forces result in many deaths in May.

1976 – La Soufrière volcano erupts in July, wreaking havoc, leaving 73,000 people evacuated from the capital, Basse-Terre. See photos from previous and recent eruptions here.

1989 – A cyclone ” Hugo ” ravages the island on September 17. The total amount of damages was 4 billion francs or 880 million dollars (1989 USD). Only 5 people died and 107 were injured.

2001-2002 – Guadeloupe is hit by a severe drought.

2003 – Residents of Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin, voted on 7 December for a status as a French Collective ( COM ) separate from Guadeloupe. The election was ratified by law on February 21, 2007.

2009 – Strikes focusing on low wages, high living costs and social inequality broke out on 20 January. France gave in to demands for wage increases. The police detained 50 protesters who threw stone while police attempted to remove the barricades. Rioters manning the barricades killed activist Jacques Bino on 18 February. Read more here.

Guadeloupe History