Saint Barthélemy, officially the Territorial Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy, called Ouanalao by the indigenous people, is an overseas collectivity of France, in the West French Indies.

Often abbreviated to St-Barth, the island lies about 35 km southeast of St Martin and north of St-Kitts, Puerto Rico is 240 km to the west in the Greater Antilles.

The island was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France. In 2003, the island voted in favor of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity of France.


Before European contact, the island was possibly frequented by Easter Caribbean Taino people. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter the island in 1493. He named it after his brother Bartolomeo. Sporadic visits continued for the next hundred years until formal colonization began taking shape.

St Barth was occupied by the French in 1648. It was sold to Sweden in 1784 but was returned to France in 1877 after a plebiscite. The capital and only town Gustavia is named for Sweden’s King Gustav III, which stand on the well-sheltered harbour.

St Barth to the World

It wasn’t until 1946 that Remy de Haenen opened St Barth to the world by landing the first airplane on the Savanna in St Jean (Where the actual airport is, named after the pilot). Head of states and the largest fortunes on the planet bought lands and that’s how the island starts to become the ultimate hideaway for the elite.

Marine Reserve

St Barth has a Marine Nature Reserve, known as the ATE, that covers 1200 ha, and is divided into 5 zones all around the island to form a network of protected areas.

The reserve included the bays of Grand-Cul-de-Sac, Colombier, Marigot, Petit-Cul-de-Sac, Petite anse as well as waters around offshore rocks such as Les Gros Islets, Pain de Sucre, Tortue, Fourchue.

The reserve is designed to protect the islands coral reefs, seagrass and endangered marine species including sea turtles. Read carefully the marine reserve sign, before entering the beach, for all details.


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