French West Indies

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Les Salines in Martinique.

The term French West Indies or French Antilles (French: Antilles françaises) refers to the seven territories currently under French sovereignty in the Antilles islands of the Caribbean:

Due to proximity French Guiana is often associated with the French West Indies, such as in the University of the French West Indies and Guiana.

French West Indies[edit]

Islands of the French West Indies
Name Largest settlement Population
(Jan. 2011)[1]
Land area
Population density 
(inh. per km2)
Martinique Fort-de-France 392,291 1,128 348 Overseas department / region
Guadeloupe proper
(Basse-Terre & Grande-Terre)
Pointe-à-Pitre 388,795 1,436 271 Overseas department / region
Saint Martin Marigot 36,286 53 685 Overseas collectivity, detached from Guadeloupe
on 22 February 2007.
Marie-Galante Grand-Bourg 11,404 158 72 Forms part of the Guadeloupe region.
Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 9,035 25 361 Overseas collectivity, detached from Guadeloupe
on 22 February 2007.
Les Saintes Terre-de-Haut 2,882 13 225 Forms part of the Guadeloupe region.
La Désirade Beauséjour 1,554 21 74 Forms part of the Guadeloupe region.
French West Indies 842,247 2,834 297

French Caribbean[edit]

The term French Caribbean varies in meaning with its usage and frame of reference. This ambiguity makes it very different from the term French West Indies, which specifically refers to the islands that are French overseas departments—which means they have overall the same laws and regulations—but collectivities can be included too. In France French Caribbean is lesser used, unless the speaker want to accentuate he's talking about all the French dependencies in this region.

In popular culture, the French Caribbean islands are usually considered to be those belonging to France: Guadeloupe (including surrounding islands: Les Saintes, Marie-Galante and La Désirade), Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy.

Nevertheless, all Caribbean regions that are predominantly French-speaking and/or French Creole-speaking are:

The two official French overseas departments are Guadeloupe and Martinique. St Martin and St Barthélemy, formerly attached to the department of Guadeloupe, have held separate status as overseas collectivities since 2007. These Caribbean Départments et Collectivités d’Outre Mer are also known as the French West Indies. The term "French Caribbean" can also refer to any area that exhibits a combination of French and Caribbean cultural influences in cuisine, style, architecture, and so on. While Dominica and Saint Lucia are officially English-speaking only, French Creole languages are widely spoken by the islands' populations.

When used as an adjective, as in "French Caribbean islands" or "French Caribbean style", the term is also ambiguous and dependent upon the user's frame of reference and context.

Former French West Indian islands[edit]

In addition, some of the islands of the present and former British West Indies were once ruled by France. On some of them, a French-based creole language is spoken; specific words and expressions may vary among the islands.

Former French West Indian islands:

See also[edit]