Saint-Barthélemy, island and French overseas collectivity (2010 est. pop. 7,400), 8 sq mi (21 sq km), West Indies, one of the Leeward Islands; also called St. Barts in English. Gustavia is the capital, main town, and main port. The hilly island has a mild, humid climate and is subject to hurricanes. The economy depends on tourism and duty-free commerce; most food and other goods are imported. The inhabitants are mainly of European, mixed race Creole, African, and French–East Asian mestizo descent; French is the official language, and English also is spoken. There is an elected, 19-seat Territorial Council whose president is the head of government. Columbus named (1493) the island for his brother Bartolomeo. Settled by the French (1648), St. Barts was sold (1784) to Sweden and prospered as a trade center. In 1878 it was sold back to France and administered from Guadeloupe. A 2003 referendum led to the island's separation from Guadeloupe in 2007. St. Barts suffered severe damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Caribbean Political Geography