Satellite image of Saint Barthelemy.
Country Flag
Country Map
Special Country Products
Locator Map

Introduction

Background

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. Hurricane Irma hit the island in September 2017 causing extensive damage, but Saint Barthelemy recovered by early 2018.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

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

17 90 N, 62 85 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 25 sq km

land: 25 sq km

water: negligible

country comparison to the world: 238

Area - comparative

less than one-eighth the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Climate

tropical, with practically no variation in temperature; has two seasons (dry and humid)

Terrain

hilly, almost completely surrounded by shallow-water reefs, with plentiful beaches

Elevation

highest point: Morne du Vitet 286 m

lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

few natural resources; beaches foster tourism

Population distribution

most of the populace concentrated in and around the capital of Gustavia, but scattered settlements exist around the island periphery

Geography - note

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

Ethnic groups

French, Portuguese, Caribbean, Afro-Caribbean

Languages

French (primary), English

major-language sample(s):
The World Factbook, une source indispensable d'informations de base. (French)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

French audio sample:

Religions

Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah's Witnesses

Age structure

0-14 years: 14.36% (male 524/female 496)

15-24 years: 7.29% (male 272/female 246)

25-54 years: 41.86% (male 1,618/female 1,363)

55-64 years: 16.43% (male 632/female 535)

65 years and over: 21.17% (male 753/female 751) (2022 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: NA

youth dependency ratio: NA

elderly dependency ratio: NA

potential support ratio: NA

Median age

total: 45.6 years

male: 45.5 years

female: 45.8 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Birth rate

9.29 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 197

Death rate

9.01 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 60

Net migration rate

-1.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Population distribution

most of the populace concentrated in and around the capital of Gustavia, but scattered settlements exist around the island periphery

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.19 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.18 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.71 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7.85 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 161

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.58 years

male: 77.48 years

female: 83.81 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020)

Literacy

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Environment

Environment - current issues

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

Climate

tropical, with practically no variation in temperature; has two seasons (dry and humid)

Government

Country name

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

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); overseas collectivity of France

Dependency status

overseas collectivity of France

Capital

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

none (overseas collectivity of France)

National holiday

Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - local holiday is St. Barthelemy Day, 24 August (1572)

Constitution

history: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)

amendments: amendment procedures of France's constitution apply

Legal system

French civil law

Citizenship

see France

Suffrage

18 years of age, universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Emmanuel MACRON (since 14 May 2017), represented by Prefect Vincent BERTON (since 28 March 2022)

head of government: President of Territorial Council Xavier LEDEE (since 3 April 2022)

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 27 March 2022 (next to be held in 2027)

election results: 2022: Xavier LEDEE (Saint Barth United) elected president; Territorial Council vote - 13 votes for, 6 blank votes

2017: Bruno MAGRAS (Saint Barth First) elected president; Territorial Council vote - 14 out of 19 votes

Legislative branch

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 - first round held on 20 March 2022 (next to be held in 2027); second round held on 27 March 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 (first round) - SBA 46.2%, Saint Barth Action Equilibre 27.1%, Unis pour Saint Barthelemy 26.8%; percent of vote by party (second round) - Saint Barth Action Equilibre and Unis pour Saint Barthelemy 50.9%, SBA 49.2%, seats by party - Saint Barth Action Equilibre and Unis pour Saint Barthelemy 13, SBA 6; composition - men NA, women NA, percent of women NA%
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

All for Saint Barth (Tous pour Saint-Barth) [Bettina COINTRE]
Saint Barth Action Equilibre [Marie-Hélène BERNIER]
Saint Barth First! (Saint-Barth d'Abord!) or SBA [Romaric MAGRAS] (affiliated with France's Republican party, Les Republicans)
Saint Barth United (Unis pour Saint-Barthelemy) [Xavier LEDEE]

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas collectivity of France)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy:

none (overseas collectivity of France)

Flag description

the flag of France is used

National anthem

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

Economic overview

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.

Exports - partners

France 60%, Germany 27% (2019)

Exports - commodities

beauty products, broadcasting equipment, sunflower seed oil, plastics, cars (2019)

Imports - partners

France 78%, Switzerland 7%, Italy 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

furniture, wine, refined petroleum, jewelry, food preparation materials (2019)

Exchange rates

0.885 (2017 est.)

0.903 (2016 est.)

0.9214 (2015 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: fully integrated access; 4G and LTE services (2019)

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)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

2 local TV broadcasters; 5 FM radio channels (2021)

Internet country code

.bl; note - .gp, the Internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the Internet country code for France, might also be encountered

Internet users

total: 7,128 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 72% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 218

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2021)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Gustavia

Transportation - note

nearest airport for international flights is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) located on Sint Maarten

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues