Saint-Barthélemy officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy (French: Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy), is an overseas collectivity of France. Often abbreviated to Saint-Barth in French, or St. Barts or St. Barths in English, the indigenous people called the island Ouanalao. St. Barthélemy lies about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of St. Martin and north of St. Kitts. Puerto Rico is 240 kilometres (150 mi) to the west in the Greater Antilles.
Saint Barthélemy was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France. In 2003, the island voted in favour 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 (200 kilometres (120 mi) southeast), and Martinique.
Saint Barthélemy, a volcanic island fully encircled by shallow reefs, has an area of 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi) and a population of 9,035 (Jan. 2011 estimate). Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour to the island. It is the only Caribbean island which was a Swedish colony for any significant length of time; Guadeloupe was under Swedish rule only briefly at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Symbolism from the Swedish national arms, the Three Crowns, still appears in the island’s coat of arms. The language, cuisine, and culture, however, are distinctly French. The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season, especially for the rich and famous during the Christmas and new year period.
The term French West Indies or French Antilles (French: Antilles françaises) refers to the seven territories currently under French sovereignty in the Antilles islands of the Caribbean:
The two overseas departments of:
Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre)
The two overseas collectivities of:
The islands forming dependencies of Guadeloupe, namely
Due to its proximity, French Guiana is often associated with the French West Indies, such as in the University of the French West Indies and Guiana.