Guadeloupe
History In A Capsule
The British wanted this island very much but took Canada, instead.

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The Caribs called Guadeloupe "Karukera," island of beautiful waters, and considering the hot water springs and tall tumbling falls, it was aptly named.

Columbus, who never showed much poetic inspiration except in naming the Virgin Islands, gave Karukera another of his mundane, saintly names: this one after the monastery of Santa Maria de Guadeloupe in Extremadura, Spain.

The Spanish never settled here and the French, who arrived in 1635 with their sugar plantations and slave labor, never bothered to change the name.

Conditions in Guadeloupe were too unsettled for prosperity on the same scale as in other parts of the French West Indies.

Four chartered companies tried in vain to colonize the island, which was finally turned over to the French crown, to become a dependency of Martinique.

The British coveted the island so obviously that a threatened Louis XV bribed them away with Canada and other goodies, through the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

The 1789 French Revolution's message of human equality sparked slave revolts, causing some plantation owners to be guillotined; others to flee. Slavery was abolished, but later reintroduced in 1802.

When slavery was abolished in 1848, the plantations went into decline because of the lack of cheap labor. Even indentured workers brought in from India could not take up the slack.

Today, sugar, rum and molasses are still important exports, as are bananas.

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