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Central America :: Saint Barthelemy Print
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  • Introduction :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Background field listing
    Discovered in 1493 by Christopher COLUMBUS who named it for his brother Bartolomeo, Saint Barthelemy was first settled by the French in 1648. In 1784, the French sold the island to Sweden, which renamed the largest town Gustavia, after the Swedish King GUSTAV III, and made it a free port; the island prospered as a trade and supply center during the colonial wars of the 18th century. France repurchased the island in 1877 and took control the following year. It was placed under the administration of Guadeloupe. Saint Barthelemy retained its free port status along with various Swedish appellations such as Swedish street and town names, and the three-crown symbol on the coat of arms. In 2003, the islanders voted to secede from Guadeloupe, and in 2007, the island became a French overseas collectivity. In 2012, it became an overseas territory of the EU, allowing it to exert local control over the permanent and temporary immigration of foreign workers including non-French European citizens.
  • Geography :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Location field listing
    Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean; located in the Leeward Islands (northern) group; Saint Barthelemy lies east of the US Virgin Islands
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    17 90 N, 62 85 W
    Map references field listing
    Central America and the Caribbean
    Area field listing
    total: 25 sq km
    land: 25 sq km
    water: negligible
    country comparison to the world: 239
    Area - comparative field listing
    less than one-eighth the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Climate field listing
    tropical, with practically no variation in temperature; has two seasons (dry and humid)
    Terrain field listing
    hilly, almost completely surrounded by shallow-water reefs, with plentiful beaches
    Elevation field listing
    lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Morne du Vitet 286 m
    Natural resources field listing
    few natural resources; beaches foster tourism
    Population distribution field listing
    most of the populace concentrated in and around the capital of Gustavia, but scattered settlements exist around the island periphery
    Environment - current issues field listing
    land-based pollution; urbanization; with no natural rivers or streams, fresh water is in short supply, especially in summer, and is provided by the desalination of sea water, the collection of rain water, or imported via water tanker; overfishing
    Geography - note field listing
    a 1,200-hectare marine nature reserve, the Reserve Naturelle, is made up of five zones around the island that form a network to protect the island's coral reefs, seagrass, and endangered marine species
  • People and Society :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Population field listing
    7,122 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 226
    Ethnic groups field listing
    other white, Creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia)
    Languages field listing
    French (primary), English
    Religions field listing
    Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah's Witnesses
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 15.16% (male 555/female 525)
    15-24 years: 7.34% (male 275/female 248)
    25-54 years: 41.86% (male 1,618/female 1,363)
    55-64 years: 16.29% (male 630/female 530)
    65 years and over: 19.35% (male 690/female 688) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age field listing
    total: 45.6 years
    male: 45.5 years
    female: 45.8 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 8
    Population growth rate field listing
    -0.25% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 214
    Birth rate field listing
    9.3 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    Death rate field listing
    8.7 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    Net migration rate field listing
    -3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Population distribution field listing
    most of the populace concentrated in and around the capital of Gustavia, but scattered settlements exist around the island periphery
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.19 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.19 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 6.4 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 4.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 80.2 years
    male: 77 years
    female: 83.4 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    Total fertility rate field listing
    1.64 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    Education expenditures field listing
  • Government :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthelemy
    conventional short form: Saint Barthelemy
    local long form: Collectivite d'outre mer de Saint-Barthelemy
    local short form: Saint-Barthelemy
    abbreviation: Saint-Barth (French); St. Barts or St. Barths (English)
    etymology: explorer Christopher COLUMBUS named the island in honor of his brother Bartolomeo's namesake saint in 1493
    Dependency status field listing
    overseas collectivity of France
    Government type field listing
    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); overseas collectivity of France
    Capital field listing
    name: Gustavia
    geographic coordinates: 17 53 N, 62 51 W
    time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: named in honor of King Gustav III (1746-1792) of Sweden during whose reign the island was obtained from France in 1784; the name was retained when in 1878 the island was sold back to France
    Independence field listing
    none (overseas collectivity of France)
    National holiday field listing
    Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - local holiday is St. Barthelemy Day, 24 August (1572)
    Constitution field listing
    history: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
    amendments: amendment procedures of France's constitution apply
    Citizenship field listing
    see France
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age, universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Emmanuel MACRON (since 14 May 2017), represented by Prefect Anne LAUBIES (since 8 June 2015)
    head of government: President of Territorial Council Bruno MAGRAS (since 16 July 2007)
    cabinet: Executive Council elected by the Territorial Council; note - there is also an advisory, economic, social, and cultural council
    elections/appointments: French president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of French Ministry of Interior; president of Territorial Council indirectly elected by its members for a 5-year term; election last held on 2 April 2017 (next to be held in 2022)
    election results: Bruno MAGRAS (SBA) reelected president; Territorial Council vote - NA
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: unicameral Territorial Council (19 seats; members elected by absolute majority vote in the first round vote and proportional representation vote in the second round; members serve 5-year terms); Saint Barthelemy indirectly elects 1 senator to the French Senate by an electoral college for a 6-year term and directly elects 1 deputy (shared with Saint Martin) to the French National Assembly
    elections: Territorial Council - last held on 19 March 2017 (next to be held in September 2022) French Senate - election last held 24 September 2017 (next to be held in September 2020) French National Assembly - election last held on 11 and 18 June 2017 (next to be held by June 2022)
    election results: Territorial Council - percent of vote by party - SBA 53.7%, United for Saint Barth 20.6%, Saint Barth Essential 18.1%, All for Saint Barth 7.7%; seats by party - SBA 14, United for Saint Barth 2, Saint Barth Essential 2, All for Saint Barth 1; composition - men 9, women 10, percent of women 52.6%; French Senate - percent of vote by party NA; seats by party UMP 1 French National Assembly - percent of vote by party NA; seats by party UMP 1
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    All for Saint Barth (Tous pour Saint-Barth) [Bettina COINTRE]
    Saint Barth Essential (Saint-Barth Autrement) [Marie-Helene BERNIER]
    Saint Barth First! (Saint-Barth d'Abord!) or SBA [Bruno MAGRAS]
    Saint Barth United (Unis pour Saint-Barthelemy) [Xavier LEDEE]
    International organization participation field listing
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    none (overseas collectivity of France)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (overseas collectivity of France)
    Flag description field listing
    the flag of France is used
    National symbol(s) field listing
    National anthem field listing
    name: "L'Hymne a St. Barthelemy" (Hymn to St. Barthelemy)
    lyrics/music: Isabelle Massart DERAVIN/Michael VALENTI

    note: local anthem in use since 1999; as a collectivity of France, "La Marseillaise" is official (see France)

  • Economy :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Economy - overview field listing
    The economy of Saint Barthelemy is based upon high-end tourism and duty-free luxury commerce, serving visitors primarily from North America. The luxury hotels and villas host 70,000 visitors each year with another 130,000 arriving by boat. The relative isolation and high cost of living inhibits mass tourism. The construction and public sectors also enjoy significant investment in support of tourism. With limited fresh water resources, all food must be imported, as must all energy resources and most manufactured goods. The tourism sector creates a strong employment demand and attracts labor from Brazil and Portugal. The country’s currency is the euro.
    Exchange rates field listing
    2013 est.)
    0.885 (2017 est.)
    0.903 (2016 est.)
    0.9214 (2015 est.)
    0.885 (2014 est.)
  • Communications :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: fully integrated access; 4G and LTE services (2020)
    domestic: direct dial capability with both fixed and wireless systems, 3 FM channels, no broadcasting (2018)
    international: country code - 590; landing points for the SSCS and the Southern Caribbean Fiber submarine cables providing voice and data connectivity to numerous Caribbean Islands (2019)
    the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media field listing
    no local TV broadcasters; 3 FM radio channels (2019)
    Internet country code field listing
    .bl; note - .gp, the Internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the Internet country code for France, might also be encountered
  • Military and Security :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of France
  • Transportation :: Saint Barthelemy
  • Airports field listing
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 234
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 1 (2019)
    under 914 m: 1
    Roadways field listing
    total: 40 km
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Gustavia
    Transportation - note field listing
    nearest airport for international flights is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) located on Sint Maarten