Saint Barthélemy, officially Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy, is a French overseas collectivity in the Caribbean located southeast of Sint Maarten. It is often abbreviated to St. Barths or St. Barts. The island has an area of just 25 square kilometers (9.7 square miles) and a population of about 10,000 people. Its population density is 392 persons per square kilometer (1,015.3/square mile).
Saint Barthélemy Demographics
Residents of Saint Barthélemy are known as Saint-Barthélemois and are French citizens. About 3,000 residents are Portuguese immigrants and there is a small population of Anglophones on the island.
French is the native tongue of the island’s population and the main language. The Saint Barthélemy French dialect, which is related to Quebec French, is spoken by several hundred people on the leeward side of the island and Créole French is spoken on the windward side of the island. English is spoken and understood in some tourist locations.
Saint Barthélemy History
Before European settlement, the island was often visited by Eastern Caribbean Taíno and Arawak people. Due to the island’s poor water sources and soil, it was not permanently inhabited until about hundreds of years after Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493.
The island was settled by the French in 1648, led by Jacques Gentes. The island was abandoned in the 18th century after it proved to be economically unsuccessful and was at risk of pirate activity. The island was traded to Sweden in 1784, which had significantly more success with the island. Under Swedish rule, slavery existed and then was abolished, with the last slaves granted freedom in 1847. Sweden gave the island back to France in 1878.
On March 19, 1946, the island’s inhabitants became French citizens with full rights. Tourism began on the island during the 1960s and 1970s and has since developed into a luxury destination.
The island became an Overseas Collectivity in 2007. The island has a certain degree of autonomy, including a senator representing the island in Paris. Saint Bathélemy left the EU in 2012 and became an Overseas Country or Territory (OCT).