French West Indies

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Economy of French West Indies

The economy depends on agriculture, tourism, light industry, and services. It also depends on France for large subsidies and imports. Tourism is a key industry, with most tourists from the US; an increasingly large number of cruise ships visit the islands. The traditional sugarcane crop is slowly being replaced by other crops, such as bananas (which now supply about 50% of export earnings), eggplant, and flowers. Other vegetables and root crops are cultivated for local consumption, although Guadeloupe is still dependent on imported food, mainly from France. Light industry features sugar and rum production. Most manufactured goods and fuel are imported. Unemployment is especially high among the young. Hurricanes periodically devastate the economy. GDP: purchasing power parity - $3.7 billion (1997 est.) GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,000 (1997 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 15% industry: 17% services: 68% (1997 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA% highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA% Labor force: 125,900 (1997) Labor force - by occupation: NA Unemployment rate: 27.8% (1998) Budget: revenues: $225 million expenditures: $390 million, including capital expenditures of $105 million (1996) Industries: construction, cement, rum, sugar, tourism Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 1.155 billion kWh (2001) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% other: 0% (2001) hydro: 0% nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 1.074 billion kWh (2001) Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001) Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.) Oil - consumption: 13,000 bbl/day (2001 est.) Oil - exports: NA (2001) Oil - imports: NA (2001) Agriculture - products: bananas, sugarcane, tropical fruits and vegetables; cattle, pigs, goats Exports: $140 million f.o.b. (1997) Exports - commodities: bananas, sugar, rum Exports - partners: France 60%, Martinique 18%, US 4% (1999) Imports: $1.7 billion c.i.f. (1997) Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, fuels, vehicles, clothing and other consumer goods, construction materials Imports - partners: France 63%, Germany 4%, US 3%, Japan 2%, Netherlands Antilles 2% (1999) Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: $NA; note - substantial annual French subsidies Currency: euro (EUR); French franc (FRF) Currency code: EUR; FRF Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 1.0626 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); French francs per US dollar - 5.8995 (1998)
Fiscal year:
calendar year

Geography of French West Indies

Location: Caribbean, islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico Map references: Central America and the Caribbean Area: total area: 1,780 sq km land area: 1,706 sq km comparative area: 10 times the size of Washington, DC note: Guadeloupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands, of which Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, and Marie-Galante are the three largest Land boundaries: 0 km Coastline: 306 km Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nm territorial sea: 12 nm International disputes: none Climate: subtropical tempered by trade winds; relatively high humidity Terrain: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grand-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin Natural resources: cultivable land, beaches and climate that foster tourism Land use: arable land: 18% permanent crops: 5% meadows and pastures: 13% forest and woodland: 40% other: 24% Irrigated land: 30 sq km (1989 est.) Environment: current issues: NA natural hazards: hurricanes (June to October); La Soufriere is an active volcano international agreements: NA

Government of French West Indies

Country name: conventional long form: Department of Guadeloupe conventional short form: Guadeloupe local long form: Departement de la Guadeloupe local short form: Guadeloupe Data code: GP Dependency status: overseas department of France Government type: NA National capital: Basse-Terre Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France) Independence: none (overseas department of France) National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789) Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution) Legal system: French legal system Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal Executive branch: chief of state: President of France Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Jean FEDINI (since NA) head of government: President of the General Council Dominique LARIFLA (since NA); President of the Regional Council Lucette MICHAUX-CHEVRY (since 22 March 1992) cabinet: NA elections: prefect appointed by the president of France on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; the presidents of the General and Regional Councils are elected by the members of those councils election results: NA Legislative branch: unicameral General Council or Conseil General (42 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the unicameral Regional Council or Conseil Regional (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) elections: General Council-last held 22 March 1992 (next to be held by NA 1996); Regional Council-last held 16 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: General Council-percent of vote by party-NA; seats by party-FRUI.G 13, RPR/DUD 13, PPDG 8, FGPS 3, PCG 3, UPLG 1, PSG 1, independent 1; Regional Council-percent of vote by party-RPR 48.03%, PS/PPDG/DVG 24.49%, PCG 5.29%, DVD 5.73%; seats by party-RPR 25, PS/PPDG/DVG 12, PCG 2, DVD 2 note: Guadeloupe elects two representatives to the French Senate; elections last held in September 1995 (next to be held NA September 2004); percent of vote by party-NA; seats by party-RPR 1, FGPS 1; Guadeloupe elects four representatives to the French National Assembly; elections last held on 25 May-1 June 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); percent of vote by party-NA; seats by party-FGPS 2, RPR 1, PCG 1 Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel with jurisdiction over Guadeloupe, French Guiana, and Martinique Political parties and leaders: Rally for the Republic or RPR [Lucette MICHAUX-CHEVRY]; Communist Party of Guadeloupe or PCG [Mona CADOCE]; Socialist Party or PS [Georges LOUISOR]; Popular Union for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or UPLG [Claude MAKOUKE]; FGPS Dissidents or FRUI.G [Dominique LARIFLA]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Marcel ESDRAS]; Progressive Democratic Party or PPDG [Henri BANGOU]; Movement for an Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI [Luc REIETTE]; Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG; DVG [Jacques GILLOT]; DVD [Simon IBO]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Movement for Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI; General Union of Guadeloupe Workers or UGTG; General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers or CGT-G; Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG International organization participation: FZ, WCL, WFTU Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas department of France) Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas department of France) Flag description: three horizontal bands, a narrow green band (top), a wide red band, and a narrow green band; the green bands are separated from the red band by two narrow white stripes; a five-pointed gold star is centered in the red band toward the hoist side; the flag of France is used for official occasions

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History of French West Indies

Christopher Columbus landed on Guadeloupe on November 4, 1493. Though originally called Karukéra (Island of Beautiful Waters) by the Carib Indians, Columbus named the island after the famous sanctuary of Santa Maria de Guadalupe de Estremadura. Lacking gold and silver, the island was not of great interest to the Europeans until the17th century. For a brief period the Spanish had tried to settle Guadeloupe but were stopped by the ferocious Carib Indians. Then around 1635, the French began to colonize the island. With the institutionalization of slavery in 1644, the trade of spices, sugar, tobacco and rum prospered between France, Africa and the Antilles. Guadeloupe was officially annexed by the King of France in 1674. As the island prospered, it became the scene of great battles between the French and the British, who occupied it from 1759 to 1763. That year it was restored to France in exchange for all French rights to Canada. But the tug-of-war continued on and off until 1815, when the Treaty of Paris designated Guadeloupe as French. In 1848, thanks to the efforts of Victor Schoelcher, slavery was abolished. Guadeloupe was represented for the first time in the French Parliament in 1871. It became a French Départment on March 19, 1946.

People of French West Indies

Population: 440,189 (July 2003 est.) Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.7% (male 55,521; female 53,137) 15-64 years: 66.4% (male 144,764; female 147,449) 65 years and over: 8.9% (male 16,443; female 22,875) (2003 est.) Median age: total: 31 years male: 30.2 years female: 31.9 years (2002) Population growth rate: 1% (2003 est.) Birth rate: 16.16 births/1,000 population (2003 est.) Death rate: 6.04 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.) Net migration rate: -0.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.) Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2003 est.) Infant mortality rate: total: 9.07 deaths/1,000 live births female: 7.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.) male: 10.33 deaths/1,000 live births Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.53 years male: 74.37 years female: 80.84 years (2003 est.) Total fertility rate: 1.92 children born/woman (2003 est.) Nationality: noun: Guadeloupian(s) adjective: Guadeloupe Ethnic groups: black or mulatto 90%, white 5%, East Indian, Lebanese, Chinese less than 5% Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Hindu and pagan African 4%, Protestant 1% Languages: French (official) 99%, Creole patois Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 90% male: 90% female: 90% (1982 est.)