Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the eastern Caribbean Sea at 16°15′N 61°35′W, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres (629 sq. mi). It is an overseas department of France. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe is also one of the twenty-six regions of France and an integral part of the Republic. As part of France, Guadeloupe is part of the European Union; hence, as for most EU countries, its currency is the euro. However, Guadeloupe does not fall under the Schengen Agreement. The prefecture of Guadeloupe is Basse-Terre.
Guadeloupe comprises five islands: Basse-Terre Island, Grande-Terre with the adjacent islands of La Désirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief whilst Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains. Guadeloupe was formed from multiple volcanoes, of which only Basse-Terre is not extinct.
Further to the north, Saint-Barthélemy and the French part of Saint Martin come under the jurisdiction of Guadeloupe. On December 7, 2003, both of these areas voted to become an overseas territorial collectivity.
During his second trip to America, seeking fresh water in November 1493, Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Guadeloupe. He called it Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, after the image of the Virgin Mary venerated at the Spanish monastery of Villuercas, in Guadalupe, Extremadura. The expedition set ashore just south of Capesterre but did not leave any settlers ashore.
Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the pineapple on the island of Guadeloupe in 1493, although the fruit had long been grown in South America. He called it piña de Indes meaning "pine of the Indians."
After successful settlement on the island of St Christophe (St Kitts), the French Company of the American Islands delegated Charles Lienard and Jean Duplessis, Lord of Ossonville to colonize one or any of the region’s islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique or Dominica. Due to Martinique’s inhospitable nature, the duo resolved to settle in Guadeloupe in 1635, took possession of the island and wiped out many of the Carib Amerindians. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1674. Over the next century, the island was seized several times by the British. The economy benefited from the hugely lucrative sugar trade introduced during the closing decades of the seventeenth century: one indication of Guadeloupe's prosperity at this time is that in the Treaty of Paris (1763), France, defeated in war, agreed to abandon its territorial claims in Canada in return for British return of Guadeloupe which was captured in 1759.
In 1790, the upper classes of Guadeloupe refused to obey the new laws of equal rights for the free colored and attempted to declare independence, resulting in great disturbances; a fire broke out in Pointe-à-Pitre and devastated a third of the town, and a struggle between the monarchists and the republicans ended in the victory of the monarchists, who declared independence in 1791, followed by the refusal to receive the new governor appointed by Paris in 1792. In 1793, a slave rebellion started, which made the upper classes turn to the British and ask them to occupy the island.
In an effort to take advantage of the chaos ensuing from the French Revolution, Britain attempted to seize Guadeloupe in 1794 and held it from 21 April until December 1794, when Victor Hugues obliged the English general to surrender. The French retook the island under the command of Victor Hugues, who succeeded in freeing the slaves. They revolted and turned on the slave-owners who controlled the sugar plantations, but when French interests were threatened, Napoleon sent a force to suppress the rebels and reinstitute slavery. Louis Delgrès and a group of revolutionary soldiers killed themselves on the slopes of the Matouba volcano when it became obvious that the invading troops would take control of the island. The occupation force killed approximately 10,000 Guadeloupeans in the process of restoring order to the island.
On 4 February 1810 the British once again seized the island. By the Anglo-Swedish alliance of 3 March 1813, it was ceded to Sweden but the British administration continued in place while Swedish commissioners were sent to make arrangements for the transfer. Sweden already had a colony in the area, but then by the Treaty of Paris of 1814, ceded Guadeloupe once more to France. An ensuing settlement between Sweden and the British gave rise to the Guadeloupe Fund. French control of Guadeloupe was finally acknowledged in the Treaty of Vienna in 1815. Slavery was abolished on the island in 1848 at the initiative of Victor Schoelcher.
Today the population of Guadeloupe is mostly of African origin with an important European and Indian active population. Lebanese/Syrians, Chinese, and others.
On 22 February 2007 the island communes of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy were officially detached from Guadeloupe and became two separate French overseas collectivities with their own local administration, henceforth separated from Guadeloupe. Their combined population was 35,930 and their combined land area was 74.2 km² at the 1999 census. Guadeloupe thereby lost 8.5 percent of its population and 4.36 percent of its land area, based upon numbers from that census.
On 20 January 2009, an umbrella group of approximately fifty labour union and other associations known in the local Antillais, Creole as the Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon led by Elie Domota called for a 200 Euro ($260 USD) monthly pay increase for the island's low income workers. The protesters have proposed that authorities "lower business taxes as a top up to company finances" to pay for the 200 Euro pay raises. Employers and business leaders in Guadeloupe have said that they cannot afford the salary increase.