Guadeloupe, along with Martinique, is a part of an island archipelago in the Caribbean region also known as the French Antilles or French West Indies. It is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico. The island is a département of the government of France, actually considered as a region of the French Republic, and part of the European Union.
The original inhabitants of the island, the Carib people, named their homeland karukera, meaning “island of beautiful waters.” The island was visited by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage in 1493. Columbus named the island after a Spanish monastery. For a long period of time the Caribs resisted incursions by Spanish settlers. The French arrived in the 17th century, and before long the Carib people were decimated by harsh treatment and disease. The settlers established plantations for cultivation of sugar cane and tobacco, and brought in many African slaves to work the fields—until the abolishment of slavery in 1848.
Today about 75% of the population are of mixed ancestry, being descendants of Africans and Europeans. The remainder are mostly Europeans or East Indian Tamils.
More than 90% of the population adhere to the Roman Catholic tradition. Only about 5% are Protestants.
There are four languages spoken on Guadeloupe: English, French, Guadeloupean Creole French (main common tongue of the people) and Haitian Creole French. French is the official language.