French West Indies

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:

Due to its proximity, French Guiana is often associated with the French West Indies.

Caribbean - French West Indies
Location of the modern territories of the French West Indies
Martinique Beach (Salines)
Les Salines in Martinique


Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc was a French trader and adventurer in the Caribbean, who established the first permanent French colony, Saint-Pierre, on the island of Martinique in 1635. Belain sailed to the Caribbean in 1625, hoping to establish a French settlement on the island of St. Christopher (St. Kitts). In 1626 he returned to France, where he won the support of Cardinal Richelieu to establish French colonies in the region. Richelieu became a shareholder in the Compagnie de Saint-Christophe, created to accomplish this with d'Esnambuc at its head. The company was not particularly successful and Richelieu had it reorganized as the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique. In 1635 d'Esnambuc sailed to Martinique with one hundred French settlers to clear land for sugarcane plantations.

After six months on Martinique, d'Esnambuc returned to St. Christopher, where he soon died prematurely in 1636. His nephew, Jacques Dyel du Parquet, inherited d'Esnambuc's authority over the French settlements in the Caribbean, in 1637 becoming governor of Martinique. He remained in Martinique and did not concern himself with the other islands.

The French permanently settled on Martinique and Guadeloupe after being driven off Saint Kitts and Nevis (Saint-Christophe in French) by the British. Fort Royal (Fort-de-France) on Martinique was a major port for French battle ships in the region from which the French were able to explore the region. In 1638, Jacques Dyel du Parquet (1606-1658), nephew of Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc and first governor of Martinique, decided to have Fort Saint Louis built to protect the city against enemy attacks. From Fort Royal, Martinique, Du Parquet proceeded south in search for new territories and established the first settlement in Saint Lucia in 1643, and headed an expedition which established a French settlement in Grenada in 1649. Despite the long history of British rule, Grenada's French heritage is still evidenced by the number of French loanwords in Grenadian Creole, French-style buildings, cuisine and places name (For ex. Petit Martinique, Martinique Channel, etc.)

In 1642 the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique received a twenty-year extension of its charter. The King would name the Governor General of the company, and the company the Governors of the various islands. However, by the late 1640s, in France Mazarin had little interest in colonial affairs and the company languished. In 1651 it dissolved itself, selling its exploitation rights to various parties. The du Paquet family bought Martinique, Grenada, and Saint Lucia for 60,000 livres. The sieur d'Houël bought Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, La Desirade and the Saintes. The Knights of Malta bought Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, which were made dependencies of Guadeloupe. In 1665, the Knights sold the islands they had acquired to the newly formed (1664) Compagnie des Indes occidentales.

Dominica is a former French and British colony in the Eastern Caribbean, located about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe (to the north) and Martinique (to the south). Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday (domingo in Latin), 3 November 1493. In the hundred years after Columbus's landing, Dominica remained isolated. At the time it was inhabited by the Island Caribs, or Kalinago people, and over time more settled there after being driven from surrounding islands, as European powers entered the region. In 1690, French woodcutters from Martinique and Guadeloupe begin to set up timber camps to supply the French islands with wood and gradually become permanent settlers. France had a colony for several years, they imported slaves from West Africa, Martinique and Guadeloupe to work on its plantations. In this period, the Antillean Creole language developed. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to Great Britain in 1763. Great Britain established a small colony on the island in 1805. As a result, Dominicans speak English as an official language while Antillean creole is spoken as a secondary language and is well maintained due to its location between the French-speaking departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

In Trinidad, the occupying Spanish had contributed little towards advancements, despite the island's ideal location. Because it was considered underpopulated, Roume de St. Laurent, a Frenchman living in Grenada, was able to obtain a Cédula de Población from the Spanish king Charles III, on 4 November 1783, allowing French planters with their slaves, free coloreds and mulattos from the French Antilles of Martinique, Grenada, Guadeloupe and Dominica to migrate to Trinidad. The Spanish gave many incentives to lure settlers to the island, including exemption from taxes for ten years and land grants in accordance to the terms set out in the Cedula. This exodus was also encouraged by the French Revolution. These new immigrants established the local communities of Blanchisseuse, Champs Fleurs, Paramin, Cascade, Carenage and Laventille, adding to the ancestry of Trinidadians and creating the creole identity; Spanish, French, and Patois were the languages spoken. Trinidad's population jumped from just under 1,400 in 1777, to over 15,000 by the end of 1789. In 1797, Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population.

Islands of the French West Indies
Name Largest settlement Population
(Jan. 2011)[1]
Land area
Population density 
(inh. per km2)
Martinique Fort-de-France 392,291 1,128 348 Overseas department / region
Guadeloupe proper
(Basse-Terre & Grande-Terre)
Pointe-à-Pitre 388,795 1,436 271 Overseas department / region
Saint Martin Marigot 36,286 53 685 Overseas collectivity, detached from Guadeloupe
on 22 February 2007.
Marie-Galante Grand-Bourg 11,404 158 72 Forms part of the Guadeloupe region.
Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 9,035 25 361 Overseas collectivity, detached from Guadeloupe
on 22 February 2007.
Les Saintes Terre-de-Haut 2,882 13 225 Forms part of the Guadeloupe region.
La Désirade Beauséjour 1,554 21 74 Forms part of the Guadeloupe region.
French West Indies 842,247 2,834 297

The two official French overseas departments are Guadeloupe and Martinique. St. Martin and St. Barthélemy, formerly attached to the department of Guadeloupe, have held separate status as overseas collectivities since 2007. These Caribbean Départments et Collectivités d’Outre Mer are also known as the French West Indies.

French Caribbean

The French Caribbean (or Francophone Caribbean) includes all the French-speaking countries in the region.[5][6][7] It can also refer to any area that exhibits a combination of French and Caribbean cultural influences in music, cuisine, style, architecture, and so on.[8] The Francophone Caribbean is a part of the wider French America, which includes all the French-speaking countries in the Americas.

However, the term varies in meaning by its usage and frame of reference. It is not used much in France, unless the speaker wants to refer to every French dependency in the Caribbean region. This term is thus more ambiguous than the term "French West Indies", which refers specifically to the islands that are French overseas departments, which means they have overall the same laws and regulations as departments on the mainland of France. Collectivities can be included too.

The following Caribbean regions are predominantly French-speaking and/or French Creole-speaking:

(*) = gained independence from Great Britain. English is its official language, but French-based Creole languages are widely spoken by the island population due to a period of French colonization[9][10]

Former French West Indian islands

In addition, some of the islands of the present and former British West Indies were once ruled by France. Among some of them, a French-based creole language is spoken, whereas in others the language is nearing extinction; specific words and expressions may vary among the islands.

Area Former territories
Greater Antilles
Lesser Antilles

See also


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2011 des départements et des collectivités d'outre-mer" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  2. ^ "Base chiffres clés : évolution et structure de la population 2010" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  3. ^ "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Martin" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
  4. ^ "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
  5. ^ Houston, Lynn Marie (2005). "Food Culture in the Caribbean". p. xxi. ISBN 0313327645. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  6. ^ Johnston, Christina (2005). "France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History". p. 17. ISBN 1851094113. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  7. ^ Cobley, Alan Gregor. "Crossroads of Empire: The European-Caribbean Connection, 1492-1992". p. 1. ISBN 9766210314. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  8. ^ Manuel, Peter (1988). "Popular Musics of the Non-Western World: An Introductory Survey". p. 72. ISBN 0195053427. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  9. ^ Gramley, Stephan; Pätzold, Kurt-Michael (2004). "A Survey of Modern English". p. 265. ISBN 020344017X. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Edward (2010). "St. Lucian Kwéyòl on St. Croix: A Study of Language Choice and Attitudes". p. 210. ISBN 9781443821476. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
Altice Portugal

Altice Portugal (formerly known as Portugal Telecom or PT) is the largest telecommunications service provider in Portugal. Since June 2, 2015, the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Altice Group, a multinational cable and telecommunications company with a presence in France, Israel, Belgium & Luxembourg, Portugal, French West Indies/Indian Ocean Area and Dominican Republic (“Overseas Territories”), Switzerland, and the United States. Its assets in Portugal were sold to Altice in 2015 in a move of its owner, Oi SA, to reduce debt. The African assets were mostly sold for the same reason. Portugal Telecom, SGPS SA was split in separate companies: PT Portugal (now Altice Portugal) and Pharol (formerly PT SGPS), which owns a 27,5% stake in Oi.

Call signs in North America

Call signs are frequently still used by North American broadcast stations, in addition to amateur radio and other international radio stations that continue to identify by call signs around the world. Each country has a different set of patterns for its own call signs. Call signs are allocated to ham radio stations in Barbados, Canada, Mexico and across the United States.

Many countries have specific conventions for classifying call signs by transmitter characteristics and location. The call sign format for radio and television call signs follows a number of conventions. All call signs begin with a prefix assigned by the International Telecommunications Union. For example, the United States has been assigned the following prefixes: AAA–ALZ, K, N, W. For a complete list, see international call sign allocations.

French West India Company

The French West India Company (French: Compagnie française des Indes occidentales) was a French trading company founded in 1664 by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and dissolved in 1674. The company received the French possessions of the Atlantic coasts of Africa and America, and was granted a monopoly on trade with America, which was to last for forty years. It was supposed to populate Canada, using the profits of the sugar economy that began in Guadeloupe. Its capital was six million pounds and its headquarters was in Le Havre.

The stock of the company was so considerable, that in less than 6 months, 45 vessels were equipped, with which they took possession of all the places in their grant, and settled a commerce. In 1674, the grant was revoked, and the various countries reunited to the King's dominions, as before; the King reimbursed the actions of the adventurers.

This revocation was owing partly to the poverty of the company, caused by its losses in the wars with the Kingdom of England, which had necessitated it to borrow large sums; and even to alienate its exclusive privilege for the coasts of Guinea, but also to its having in good measure answered its end, which was to recover the commerce of the West Indies from the Dutch, who had taken it away from them. The French merchants being so accustomed to traffic to the Antilles, by permission of the company, were so attached to it, that it was not doubted they would support the commerce after the dissolution of the company.

French destroyer Panthère

The French destroyer Panthère was a Chacal-class destroyer built for the French Navy during the 1920s. Aside from cruises to the English Channel and the French West Indies, she spent her entire career in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship was assigned to the Torpedo School at Toulon in 1932 and remained there until World War II began in September 1939. She was then assigned convoy escort duties in the Atlantic and was being refitted when the Battle of France began in May 1940. After the surrender of France a month later, Panthère was reduced to reserve. When the Germans attempted to seize the French fleet there in November 1942, she was one of the few ships that was not scuttled and was captured virtually intact.

The Germans later turned her over to the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina) who renamed her FR 22 when they recommissioned her in early 1943. The ship was scuttled when Italy surrendered in September and scrapped after the war.

Geography of Martinique

Martinique is an island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Cuba and north of Trinidad and Tobago. It is part of the French West Indies.

Katty Piejos

Katty Tolla Piejos, (born 21 August 1981 in La Trinité, Martinique, French West Indies) is a French handball player.

La Désirade

La Désirade is an island in the French West Indies. It is a part of Guadeloupe (a "dependency"), which itself is an Overseas Region of France.

Lafcadio Hearn

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (; Greek: Πατρίκιος Λευκάδιος Χερν; 27 June 1850 – 26 September 1904), known also by the Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo (小泉 八雲), was a writer, known best for his books about Japan, especially his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories, such as Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. In the United States, Hearn is also known for his writings about the city of New Orleans based on his ten-year stay in that city.

Born in Greece to a Greek mother and an Irish father, a complex series of conflicts and events led to young Lafcadio Hearn being moved to Ireland, where he was abandoned first by his mother (leaving him in the care of her husband's aunt), then his father, and finally by his father's aunt, who had been appointed his official guardian. At the age of 19 he was put on a boat to the United States, where he found a job as newspaper reporter, first in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later in New Orleans. From there he was sent as a correspondent, first to the French West Indies, where he stayed for two years, and then to Japan, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

In Japan he married a Japanese woman with whom he had four children, and became a naturalized Japanese citizen. His writings about Japan offered the Western world a glimpse into a largely unknown but fascinating culture.

Le Lamentin

Le Lamentin is a town, located in the Outre-Mer department of Martinique, in the French West Indies. With its 62,32 km², it is the town with the largest area of Martinique. Le Lamentin, with near to 40 000 inhabitants, is the second most populated town of Martinique, after Fort-de-France. It is also the first industrial town and the heart of the island's economy.

List of airports in Saint Barthélemy

A list of airports in Saint Barthélemy, sorted by location.

Saint Barthélemy (French: Saint-Barthélemy) is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Also known as Saint Barts, Saint Barths, or Saint Barth, it is one of four Leeward Islands that comprise the French West Indies. It became an overseas collectivity (collectivité d'outre-mer or COM) of France on February 22, 2007. Previously it was a French commune of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region (région d'outre-mer) and overseas department (département d'outre-mer or DOM) of France.

ICAO location identifiers are linked to the airport's Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), which is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF) from the French Service d'information aéronautique (SIA).

List of airports in Saint Martin

This is a list of airports in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, an island in the northeast Caribbean.

The southern Dutch half of the island comprises the Sint Maarten and is a constituent country. This portion contains the island's international airport: Princess Juliana International Airport.

The northern French half of the island comprises the Collectivité de Saint-Martin (Collectivity of Saint Martin), which became an overseas collectivity (collectivité d'outre-mer or COM) of France on February 22, 2007. Previously it was a French commune of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region (région d'outre-mer) and overseas department (département d'outre-mer or DOM) of France. It contains the island's smaller airport which offers flights to the other islands of the French West Indies: Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Barthélemy.

List of islands of France

This is a list of islands of France, including both metropolitan France and French overseas islands.

Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport

Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, French: Aéroport International Martinique Aimé Césaire (IATA: FDF, ICAO: TFFF), is the international airport of Martinique in the French West Indies. Located in Le Lamentin, a suburb of the capital Fort-de-France, it was opened in 1950 and renamed in 2007, after author and politician Aimé Césaire.

Molasses Act

The Molasses Act of March 1733 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (citation 6 Geo II. c. 13), which imposed a tax of six pence per gallon on imports of molasses from non-English colonies. Parliament created the act largely at the insistence of large plantation owners in the British West Indies. The Act was not passed for the purpose of raising revenue, but rather to regulate trade by making British products cheaper than those from the French West Indies. The Molasses Act greatly affected the significant colonial molasses trade.

The Molasses Act of 1733 provided:

... there shall be raised, levied, collected and paid, unto and for the use of his Majesty ..., upon all rum or spirits of the produce or manufacture of any of the colonies or plantations in America, not in the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty ..., which at any time or times within or during the continuance of this act, shall be imported or brought into any of the colonies or plantations in America, which now are or hereafter may be in the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty ..., the sum of nine pence, money of Great Britain, ... for every gallon thereof, and after that rate for any greater or lesser quantity: and upon all molasses or syrups of such foreign produce or manufacture as aforesaid, which shall be imported or brought into any of the said colonies or plantations ..., the sum of six pence of like money for every gallon thereof ... ; and upon all sugars and paneles of such foreign growth, produce or manufacture as aforesaid, which shall be imported into any of the said colonies or plantations ... a duty after the rate of five shillings of like money, for every hundred weight Avoirdupois. ...

Historian Theodore Draper described British intent on the tax as it would affect the American colonies:

Bladen [Col. Main Bladen who was a longtime member of the British Board of Trade] had conceived of the strategy of inflicting a prohibitive duty on imports from the French West Indies instead of simply disallowing them. When he was confronted with the argument that the proposed bill would result in the ruin of the North American colonies, he replied, "that the duties proposed would not prove an absolute prohibition, but he owned that he meant them as something that should come very near it, for in the way the northern colonies are, they raise the French Islands at the expense of ours, and raise themselves also [to]o high, even to an independency."

A large colonial molasses trade had grown between the New England and Middle colonies and the French, Dutch, and Spanish West Indian possessions. Molasses from the British West Indies, used in New England for making rum, was priced much higher than its competitors and they also had no need for the large quantities of lumber, fish, and other items offered by the colonies in exchange. The British West Indies in the first part of the 18th Century were the most important trading partner for Great Britain so Parliament was attentive to their requests. However, rather than acceding to the demands to prohibit the colonies from trading with the non-British islands, Parliament passed the prohibitively high tax on the colonies for the import of molasses from these islands. Historian John C. Miller noted that the tax:

... threatened New England with ruin, struck a blow at the economic foundations of the Middle colonies, and at the same time opened the way for the British West Indians—whom the continental colonists regarded as their worst enemies—to wax rich at the expense of their fellow subjects on the mainland.

Largely opposed by colonists, the tax was rarely paid, and smuggling to avoid it was prominent. If actually collected, the tax would have effectively closed that source to New England and destroyed much of the rum industry. Yet smuggling, bribery or intimidation of customs officials effectively nullified the law. Miller wrote:

Against the Molasses Act, Americans had only their smugglers to depend upon—but these redoubtable gentry proved more than a match for the British. After a brief effort to enforce the act in Massachusetts in the 1740s, the English government tacitly accepted defeat and foreign molasses was smuggled into the Northern colonies in an ever-increasing quantity. Thus the New England merchants survived—but only by nullifying an act of Parliament.

The growing corruption of local officials and disrespect for British Law caused by this act and others like it such as the Stamp Act or Townshend Acts eventually led to the American Revolution in 1776. This Act was replaced by the Sugar Act in 1764. This Act halved the tax rate, but was accompanied by British intent to actually collect the tax this time.

Outline of Saint Barthélemy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Saint Barthelemy:

The Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy is an overseas collectivity of France located in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Also known as Saint Barth in French, or St. Barts in English, the collectivity is one of the four French territories in the Leeward Islands that comprise the French West Indies, and it is the only one to have historically been a Swedish colony.

Pondichérien diaspora

The Pondichérien diaspora is a demographic group of people from Puducherry state of India who have emigrated and settled in other parts of the world, significantly in France, Réunion and the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. There are around 300,000 of them living around the world.

Saint Barthélemy

Saint Barthélemy (French pronunciation: ​[sɛ̃baʁtelemi]), officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy (French: Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy), called Ouanalao by the indigenous people, is an overseas collectivity of France in the Caribbean. Often abbreviated to St-Barth in French, and St. Barths or St. Barts in English, the island lies about 35 kilometres (22 mi) south-east of the Dutch-owned Sint Maarten and north-east of the Dutch islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and the independent country of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

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 (collectivité d'outre-mer, abbreviated to 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 7,160. Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour. It is the only Caribbean island that 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, geared towards the high-end, luxury tourist market.

University of French Guiana

The University of French Guiana (French: Université de Guyane) is a French public university, created in 2014 in French Guiana. It was formed from two existing campuses of the University of the French West Indies and Guiana.

University of the French West Indies

The University of the French West Indies (French: Université des Antilles, meaning University of the Antilles and officially translated as the University of the French Antilles) is a French public university, based in the French West Indies.

The University has 3 campuses:

two in Guadeloupe: Fouillole (Pointe-à-Pitre) and Saint-Claude,

one in Martinique: Schœlcher (while there is also the campus of the IUFM in Fort-de-France and the medical campus (CHRU, a regional university hospital) of La Meynard in Le Lamentin).It was previously part of a larger institution in combination with campuses in French Guiana known as the University of the French West Indies and Guiana. As a result of funding disputes, that university was separated into two distinct institutions based on its constituent parts in French Guiana and the Lesser Antilles respectively. The separation process was completed by 1 January 2015.

Caribbean articles


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