Photos of Saint Barthelemy

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.

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

lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m

highest point: Morne du Vitet 286 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

other White, Creole (Mulatto), Black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia)

Languages

French (primary), English

Religions

Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah's Witnesses

Age structure

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.)

Median age

total: 45.6 years

male: 45.5 years

female: 45.8 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Birth rate

9.27 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Death rate

8.85 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Net migration rate

-2.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

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: 1.11 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

total: 6.85 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.36 years

male: 77.24 years

female: 83.6 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

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

Dependency status

overseas collectivity of France

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); 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 Serge GOUTEYRON (since 16 December 2020)

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

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

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]

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.

Exchange rates

2013 est.)

0.885 (2017 est.)

0.903 (2016 est.)

0.9214 (2015 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

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)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telecommunication systems

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)

note: 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

no local TV broadcasters; 3 FM radio channels (2019)

Internet country code

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

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2019)

under 914 m: 1

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