Beach at Saint-Barthélemyhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beach_of_Saint-Barth%C3%A9lemy_2007.jpg
is a Caribbean island belonging to France. Its official name is the Territorial collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy, but is popularly known in English simply as St. Barts. The natives of the island however call it Ouanalao. St Barts covers 21 sq km (8.1 sq mi) and has a population of around 9,000 people (2012 estimate). The euro is the official currency here. The capital and biggest city is Gustavia.
Saint-Barthélemy is a volcanic island. It is encircled by coral reefs. The island is today the playground of the rich and famous, particularly during winter. The peak travel season at St Barts is New Year Eve, when it becomes the gathering place of expensive yachts from all over the world.
Archaeological discoveries indicate that St Barts has seen human presence as early as 1000 BC, when the Ciboney people attempted to settle it, but left due to poor source of water supply. Much later, around 100 AD, the Arawak Indians moved in. They were displaced by the Carib Indians around 800 AD.
In 1623, Frenchman Pierre Balain d'Esnambuc became the first European to colonize St Barts. It was under the French until 1758, when the British took over for a while, before giving it to Sweden in 1784. It was the only island in the Caribbean to be held over an extended period of time by Sweden, until it was returned to France in 1878.
Beach in St Bartshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St._Barts_beach.jpg
Gustavia, St Bartshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustavia_Harbor,_Saint-Barth%C3%A9lemy.jpg
In 1946, the people of Saint-Barthélemy received full rights as French citizens. However that did not improve the local economic situation, forcing many to seek employment in neighboring islands such as St Thomas and the US Virgin Islands. It was only in the 1960s that it began to develop its tourism infrastructure, geared towards attracting the very rich. Today it enjoys a per capita GDP that is compatible with metropolitan France.
Planning your visit to Saint-Barthélemy
The Saint-Barthélemy Airport (SBH), also called the Gustaf III Airport, receives flights from Pointe-à-Pitre, San Juan, Sint Maarten and St Thomas.
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