Article published on 27 January 2024
last modification on 12 February 2024

GUADELOUPE, MARTINIQUE and neighbouring islands

Historical account from 1890 to 1946.

In 1674, the two islands become colonies.

The uprisings of slaves coincide with battles against the Spanish, the Dutch and especially the English who occupy Guadeloupe from 1759 to 1763 and Martinique from 1794 to 1802.

In 1794, the Convention abolishes slavery. It is re-established by Napoleon in 1802. There is an insurrection that is quelled by General Richepanse. The system of slavery with divided classes will only be officially abolished in 1848, under the influence of V. Schoelcher.

The Second Empire creates a consultative assembly, the General Council, whose power is weak in comparison with that of the Governor. This political system will last till the promulgation of the 1946 law which makes the territory an Overseas Department (département d’outre-mer).


Historical account from 1890 to 1946.

Guiana, occupied in 1664 by A. Lefebvre de la Barre at the request of Colbert in order to combat Dutch hegemony, is really explored only in the first half of the 19th Century. It is especially from 1877 onwards that the important voyages of Doctor Crevaux* and Henri Coudreau finally draw the land between Oyapock and the Amazon out of obscurity.

From 1852 to 1938, Saint-Laurent du Maroni (in Guiana) is the place to which those condemned to forced labour are deported. From 1878, Guiana is granted a General Council and represented in France by a member of Parliament.

In 1946, it becomes a French Department represented by a senator.

With a surface area equal to that of fifteen metropolitan departments, its principal town is Cayenne.


Historical account from 1890 to 1970.

Eight little islands off the coast of Newfoundland with a surface area of 242 square kilometres, subject to a cold and harsh maritime climate, offer little scope for agriculture.

The principal resource was fishing and particularly cod fishing. But in 1992 the arbitral court in New York decided to forbid fishing in the region, thereby paralysing the economy of the archipelago.

Occupied by the French since 1604, the archipelago becomes an Overseas Territory in 1946, an Overseas Department in 1976 and a Territorial Community (collectivité territoriale) in 1985.

Its population is almost entirely of Breton, Norman and Basque origin.