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The term French West Indies
French West Indies
or French Antilles
Antilles
(French: Antilles françaises) refers to the seven territories currently under French sovereignty in the Antilles
Antilles
islands of the Caribbean:

The two overseas departments of:

Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
(Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre) Martinique

The two overseas collectivities of:

Saint Martin Saint Barthélemy

The islands forming dependencies of Guadeloupe, namely

Les Saintes Marie-Galante La Désirade

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

Contents

1 History 2 French Caribbean 3 Former French West Indian islands 4 See also 5 References

History[edit] 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
Martinique
in 1635. Belain sailed to the Caribbean
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
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
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
Martinique
and did not concern himself with the other islands. The French permanently settled on Martinique
Martinique
and Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
after being driven off Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis
(Saint-Christophe in French) by the British. Fort Royal
Fort Royal
(Fort-de-France) on Martinique
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
Saint Lucia
in 1643, and headed an expedition which established a French settlement in Grenada
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
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
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
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
Dominica
is a former French and British colony in the Eastern Caribbean, located about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
(to the north) and Martinique
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
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
Martinique
and Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
begin to set up timber camps to supply the French islands with wood and gradually become permanent settlers. France
France
had a colony for several years, they imported slaves from West Africa, Martinique
Martinique
and Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
to work on its plantations. In this period, the Antillean Creole
Antillean Creole
language developed. France
France
formally ceded possession of Dominica
Dominica
to Great Britain in 1763. Great Britain
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
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
Antilles
of Martinique, Grenada, Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
and Dominica
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
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
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 (km2)[2][3][4] Population density  (inh. per km2) Status

Martinique Fort-de-France 392,291 1,128 348 Overseas department
Overseas department
/ region

Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
proper (Basse-Terre & Grande-Terre) Pointe-à-Pitre 388,795 1,436 271 Overseas department
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
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
Guadeloupe
region.

La Désirade Beauséjour 1,554 21 74 Forms part of the Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
region.

French West Indies

842,247 2,834 297

The two official French overseas departments
French overseas departments
are Guadeloupe
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
Caribbean
Départments et Collectivités d’Outre Mer are also known as the French West Indies. French Caribbean[edit] The French Caribbean
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
Caribbean
cultural influences in music, cuisine, style, architecture, and so on.[8] The Francophone Caribbean
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
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
Caribbean
regions are predominantly French-speaking and/or French Creole-speaking:

 French Republic:

 Guadeloupe  Martinique  Saint-Barthélemy  Saint Martin  French Guiana

Independent nation(s):

 Haiti  Dominica*  Saint Lucia*

(*) = gained independence from Great Britain. English is its official language, but French-based creole languages
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[edit] 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

Hispaniola

Haiti
Haiti
(Saint-Domingue)

Lesser Antilles

Dominica Grenada Saint Croix Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts
(Saint-Christophe)

Saint Lucia Saint Vincent Tobago Turks and Caicos Islands

See also[edit]

American West Indies British West Indies Dutch West Indies Spanish West Indies

References[edit]

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

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