Basse-Terre bäs-tĕr´ [key], town (1999 pop. 12,410), on Basse-Terre Island, capital of Guadeloupe , a French overseas department in the West Indies. Basse-Terre is a port that ships the products of the surrounding agricultural area. Founded by the French in 1643, it retains its French colonial atmosphere, but its commercial prosperity passed to Pointe-à-Pitre in the late 18th cent. The evacution of more than 70,000 in 1976 due to the eruption of Soufrière caused a permanent drop in the town's and island's population. Both subsequently have suffered from a series of hurricanes; the town suffered especially significant damage in 1979.
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