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Guadeloupe -- Leeward Islands

World  (tags: Guadeloupe, people, places, travel )

- 1577 days ago -
Guadeloupe, in the Leeward Islands of the French West Indies, is a collection of French-language islands.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 6:22 am

Guadeloupe, in the Leeward Islands of the French West Indies, is a collection of French-language islands. It is known for its exemplary beaches, clear water and lively parties. It is found in the eastern end of the Caribbean and is one of the French over sea's departments.

-- 5 Facts You Might Not Know

1) Guadeloupe is an archipelago made up of nine islands. These include Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, which are both shaped like a butterfly. Other islands are La Desirade, Marie-Galante, Iles de Santes, Isles de la Petite Terre, Saint-Barthelemey and Saint Martin on the French section of the island of Saint Martin next to the Dutch part, Sint Maarten.

2) The peak time to visit Guadeloupe occurs from December through May as the weather is warm and dry. The remainder of the year is hot, humid and wet, particularly between July and November. The islands have a subtropical climate that is moderated by the trade winds.

3) The local distilleries that make run provide tours though the hours differ according to the season. The tours are worthwhile for visitors as they are given samples. The production of rum is a vital element of Guadeloupe's economy. The residents' drink is white run made into the Ti Punch consisting of rum, lime and sugar cane or brown sugar.

4) The French chose to set up colonies on the island and took control in 1635.

5) Guadeloupe was occupied later by the British several times during the 18th and 19th century. France regained control of the island which became an official French department in 1946 and then developed into a French region in the 1980s. 5. The islands encompass white sandy beaches, rainforest filled with wildlife and the tallest waterfall in the Caribbean in the jungle of Basse-Terre. Some waterfalls are a close walking distance from the parking lot, but others require three to fours hours of walking.

Columbus named the island after the Spanish sanctuary Santa Maria de Guadalupe de Estremadura.

Location and Geography.
Guadeloupe is an archipelago of eight inhabited islands in the Lesser Antilles, between the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. The two principal islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, are separated by a channel, the Rivière Salée. The capital, Basse-Terre, is on the western wing; the commercial center, Pointe-á-Pitre, is on the eastern wing. The other islands, known as "dependencies," are Marie-Galante, la Désirade, Petite-Terre (uninhabited), and the archipelago Les Saintes, along with Saint Barthélemy and the northern half of Saint Martin to the north.

Emergence of the Nation.
In the pre-Columbian period, Arawaks and later Caribs moved to the region from coastal South America. European exploration led to conquest, to colonization, to the eradication of the indigenous population, to the introduction of sugarcane cultivation, and a plantation economy that was dependent on African slave labor. Under French colonial domination since 1635, with brief periods of English occupation, Guadeloupe was shaped by French politics. The first abolition of slavery (1794–1802) and the almost total elimination of the white plantocracy during the French Revolution had far-reaching social and economic consequences. After the final abolition of slavery in 1848, a crisis of labor and capital led to the introduction of Indian indentured laborers, to the entry of metropolitan capital, and to the centralization of the sugar industry.

Food in Daily Life.
Food reveals Amerindian, African, East Indian, and French cultural influences. Traditional foods include manioc flour, root crops, breadfruit, avocado, green bananas, peas and beans, okra, curried meats, salted codfish, fish, and tropical fruits. Creole cooking uses hot peppers and spices but has been influenced by French cooking and imported foodstuffs.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
Special dishes for ceremonial occasions include pork, blood sausage, pigeon peas, rum punches (Christmas), salted codfish, crab calalou, rice (Easter and Pentecost), cakes and chaudeau (marriages, baptisms, First Communions), and curried goat on banana leaves (Indian ceremonies).

Basic Economy.
Agriculture has declined significantly as a percentage of the gross domestic product. Commerce and services now represent 77.9 percent of the total economy. Agricultural productivity is constrained by natural calamities, by the absence of crop diversification, and by rural and agricultural exodus. The primary sector (agriculture and fishing) employs less than 8 percent of the active working population.

Major Industries.
Industrial production remains weak, essentially represented by small enterprises. The manufacturing sector involves primarily food processing and energy. Close to half of industrial production originates in building and public works.

Political authority resides in a prefect appointed by the French president, and two subprefects. The Minister for the Overseas Departments and Territories is attached to the French Ministry of the Interior. There are forty-three cantons (electoral divisions) from which legislative leaders of the two local assemblies are elected by direct universal suffrage. The Regional Council is the most important local assembly, and the influence of the General Council, or departmental assembly, has declined. Each commune has an elected mayor and a municipal council. Two senators and four deputies serve in the French National Assembly.

Infant Care.
From the moment of birth an infant is showered with attention and care by family members and extended kin. Frequently an older sibling, a grandmother, or another adult in the family is actively involved in the care of an infant, particularly if the mother works or is a single parent. Baptism occurs within the first few months after birth.

Child Rearing and Education.
Child rearing varies with the type of family, the persons in the family, the relationships in the household, the socioeconomic class, and the social milieu. Children participate actively and very early in family life and have responsibilities that vary with age and gender. Being obedient, helpful, polite, and well dressed is valued, and strict discipline frequently is enforced with punishment. School is compulsory from ages two to sixteen. Education is highly valued as a means of social mobility. However, the school system is marked by high failure rates, repeating classes, and students who are below grade level.

Higher Education.
The Université des Antilles-Guyane operates a campus in Guadeloupe. Many Antilleans undertake university education in France, which is considered prestigious.


Guadeloupeans are known for hospitality, with an emphasis on food, drink, music, and dancing. Casual conversations often are conducted in Creole. People greet each other by kissing or by shaking hands. The style of life favors multiple social contacts, and interaction is filled with conviviality and humor—with bantering and flirtation between the sexes. Traditional values emphasize "reputation" for men and "respect" for women.

Medicine and Health Care

Modern Western medical practices coexist with traditional healing methods and the use of medicinal plants. Popular discourse on the body and illness includes notions of "hot" and "cold." While people acknowledge that illness can be attributed to natural causes, there is also a belief in the supernatural causation of illnesses and unhappiness. Whereas in the past, people often used personal and family remedies, visited the local healer if there were no results, and only then resorted to the pharmacy, dispensary, or hospital, today people rely more on Western remedies.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 6:24 am

My speakers are not working and I can not work on much with one paw. The video seemed to offer some great pictures of the Leeward Islands, other videos seems to focus on a smaller scale. I hope you enjoy the trip.

Jonathan Smithsonian (3)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 7:14 am

Marianne R (95)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 7:24 am
Thanks, Kit. Loved the video and your history info.

divergent revolution (309)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 8:08 am
use to sail those islands daily
thanks Kit
the French west indies are a gourmet's dream

Nicole W (646)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 8:16 am
ty dear Kit, always a pleasure

. (0)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 8:54 am
Noted. I could use some of those hot springs right about now. lol

Past Member (0)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 9:09 am
Thanks 4 the much needed dreamy trip kit!

JL A (281)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 10:10 am
I especially appreciated the extra cultural information related to family and health care in this description--areas vital for any cultural anthropological understanding of a county. Thanks Kit!

Bob hardly here P (394)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 10:50 am
Thanks Kit

Deb E (63)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 12:07 pm
Thanks for posting even though you are injured ... hope that gets better soon. Great trip!!

Janice D (85)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 12:41 pm
Noted . thx for posting Kit

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 12:47 pm
Another great post--thanks Kit.

Barbara K (60)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 2:04 pm
Thanks, my friend for another wonderful vacation via computer. Simply beautiful here too.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 3:31 pm

. (0)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 6:04 pm
Great video, Kit. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Pattison (6)
Monday January 27, 2014, 12:13 am
spam flagged

Mike Pattison (6)
Monday January 27, 2014, 12:13 am
spam flagged

Marija M (29)
Monday January 27, 2014, 6:20 am
Yes, I did. Thank you Kit!

Wolfgang W (235)
Tuesday January 28, 2014, 12:14 am
This the European Caribbean.

Sherri G (128)
Tuesday January 28, 2014, 11:28 pm
TY Kit for the experience and Guadeloupe France's information.
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