Saint Barthelemy Background

Factbook > Countries > Saint Barthelemy > Introduction

Background: Discovered in 1493 by Christopher COLUMBUS who named it for his brother Bartolomeo, Saint Barthelemy was first settled by the French in 1648. In 1784, the French sold the island to Sweden, which renamed the largest town Gustavia, after the Swedish King GUSTAV III, and made it a free port; the island prospered as a trade and supply center during the colonial wars of the 18th century. France repurchased the island in 1877 and took control the following year. It was placed under the administration of Guadeloupe. Saint Barthelemy retained its free port status along with various Swedish appellations such as Swedish street and town names, and the three-crown symbol on the coat of arms. In 2003 the islanders voted to secede from Guadeloupe, and in 2007 the island became a French overseas collectivity. In 2012, it became an overseas territory of the EU, allowing it to exert local control over the permanent and temporary immigration of foreign workers including non-French European citizens.

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Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on July 9, 2017

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