Geography of France/The French Antilles and French Guiana

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The French territories and regions in the Caribbean sea, sometimes referred to as the "French West Indies".

From Corsica we move away from Europe and to the Americas, into the Caribbean sea, specifically the Lesser Antilles, stretching from Puerto Rico south to Venezuela. This fractured archipelago was snapped up during the European land grab for the Americas by the colonial powers, of which France was one. France has managed to retain many of these islands today, now as integral parts of France.

The different regions and collectivities, sometimes collectively referred to as the "French West Indies", are discussed below from north to south, starting with Saint Martin.

French Guiana[edit | edit source]

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French Guiana is an overseas department of France on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the west. It is the largest region of France, with an area of 83,534 km2 , it only ranks behind Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

French Guiana has a population of 294,071, which gives it an incredibly low population density of 3.5 inhabitants per square kilometer. Half of French Guiana's population lives in Cayenne, its capital. The other half is distributed amongst its 15 other communes, the largest being Matoury, as well as numerous other small villages.

French Guiana is heavily forested, with 98.9% of the land territory of French Guiana being covered by forests, a lot of which is virgin rainforest. The Guiana Amazonian Park makes to 41% of the entire land area of French Guiana, making it the largest national park in France and the whole European Union.

Much of French Guiana's economy depends on the Guiana Space Centre, a spaceport for the ESA and the CNES, France's national space agency. In 2011, it produced 1,525 direct jobs and 7,500 indirect jobs.

Guadeloupe[edit | edit source]

Map of Guadeloupe

Guadelope is an overseas department and region consisting of the inhabited island of Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the two inhabited Îles des Saintes as well as many other uninhabited islands. Formerly, Saint-Martin and Saint Barthélemy were inclued in Guadeloupe, but were detached in a referendum in 2003. It is south of Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, and north of Dominica.

Guadeloupe's capital city is Basse-Terre, on Basse-Terre Island, but the most populous city is Les Abymes and the center of business is Pointe-à-Pitre, the largest city in Guadeloupe, both on Grande-Terre Island.

Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport serves Guadeloupe.

Saint-Martin[edit | edit source]

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Saint Martin

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Saint Martin, or Saint-Martin in French, is the northernmost of France's Caribbean territories. Confusingly, Saint-Martin is located on the northern 60% of the island of Saint Martin, and to the south of Saint-Martin is Sint Maarten, Saint Martin in Dutch. Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Netherlands, making it the only place where France borders the Netherlands. Saint-Martin also encompasses some other islets around the island of Saint Martin, the largest being Île Tintamarre.

The capital of Saint-Martin is Marigot with a population of 5,700.

Saint-Martin is an Overseas Collectivity of France, but until 2007 it was part of the Overseas Region of Guadeloupe.[1]

References[edit | edit source]