Isles des Saintes

Îles des Saintes

The Îles des Saintes (literally, "Islands of the Saints"), also called simply Les Saintes, are a group of islands within the French overseas department of Guadeloupe. They are located about 15 km southwest of Guadeloupe at and as such belong to the Lesser Antilles. Their land area is 12.8 km² (4.9 sq. miles) and they had a population of 2,883 inhabitants at the 2005 census (down from 3,269 inhabitants at the 1967 census). Only Terre-de-Haut Island and Terre-de-Bas Island are populated, with Terre-de-Haut Island having the central place and a natural harbour, guarded by the Fort Napoléon. Terre-de-Bas Island is dominated by agriculture, including coffee, cotton, pepper, and bananas. Historically, Terre-de-Bas Island was the most populated of the two, but Terre-de-Haut Island now contains a larger population. There are seven additional, uninhabited islands comprising the Îles des Saintes.

The islands were named Los Santos by Christopher Columbus, who arrived there on All Saints' Day of 1493. The first French settlers arrived in 1648. Because of their strategically important position, the Îles des Saintes were fought over by the French and the British in the Battle of the Saintes; they have remained under French control since 1816.

Administratively, the islands are divided into two communes (municipalities):

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