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Guadeloupe

 

Guadeloupe is made up of an archipelago of eight islands in the Leser Antiles. There are two main islands of Guadeloupe are shaped like a butterfly’s wings and are connected through a mangrove swamp. The Grande-Terre constitutes the eastern wing while the Basse-Terre makes up the western wing. The capital city is located on the western wing while the eastern wing has most of the commercial and tourist related points like beaches, bars, and surfing schools. The topography of Guadeloupe (Grande-Terre) is primarily made up of limestone plateaus, plains and hills. Basse-Terre is mainly volcanic housing towering mountains and a tropical rain forest. Guadeloupe climate is essentially humid and tropical and remains essentially January through May while the wet season is from June to December.

According to history of Guadeloupe, the original inhabitants of the islands were Arawaks in the pre-Columbian era and later the Caribs, who moved to the islands from the coast of South America. European exploration eventually led to the conquest and colonization of the islands in 1635 with Guadeloupe becoming a French territory in 1674. Over time the native populations were eradicated and slaves were brought in to work the sugarcane plantations. The total abolition by 1848, led to labour crisis and Indian labourers were indentured to fill the gap. The sugar industry was also centralized. The twentieth century saw growing tensions between the local Guadeloupe and the French government, with the result that in 1974 the islands were declared a region with more decentralization.

Customs of Guadeloupe dictate warm hospitality with great stress on food, drink, music and dancing. Generally social conversations are carried out in Creole and people greet one another by either shaking hands or kissing. Traditional values place emphasis on reputation for male members and respect for the female members. Religion in Guadeloupe plays a vital role the lives of the people. The cosmology and myths brought by the slaves from Africa have not survived, but the magic/religious practices are still prevalent. Many people still adhere to the beliefs of good and evil spirits as well as supernatural creatures. Currently majority of the population is Christian, but the Hindu religious rites are being revived as well.

Food of Guadeloupe shows influence of African, Indian, Amerindian and French influences. Traditional foods include breadfruit, root crops, green bananas, peas manioc flour, salted codfish, tropical fruits and meats. Creole cooking practices use a lot of hot peppers and spices but the French influence have toned them down. Special ceremonial dishes include pigeon peas, rum punches, crab, rice, curried goat on banana leaves.

 

Fast Facts:

Capital:   Basse-Terre

Total Area:   687 sq mi (1,780 sq km)

Monetary unit:   Euro

Language:   French (official), most locals also speak Creole

Religion:   Christian, Hindu

Ethnicity:   Black, Indian, White 9%, Lebanese and Syrians, Chinese

 

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