Pointe-à-Pitre

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Pointe-à-Pitre
Pointe-à-Pitre.JPG
Coat of arms of Pointe-à-Pitre
Coat of arms
Location of the commune (in red) within Guadeloupe
Location of the commune (in red) within Guadeloupe
Coordinates: 16°14′28″N 61°31′59″W / 16.2411°N 61.5331°W / 16.2411; -61.5331Coordinates: 16°14′28″N 61°31′59″W / 16.2411°N 61.5331°W / 16.2411; -61.5331
Country France
Overseas region and department Guadeloupe
Arrondissement Pointe-à-Pitre
Government
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Jaques Bangou[1]
Area
 • Land1 2.66 km2 (1.03 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Population2 17,541
 • Population2 density 6,600/km2 (17,000/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-4
INSEE/Postal code 97120 / 97110

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Pointe-à-Pitre (French: Pointe-à-Pitre, pronounced: [pwɛ̃tapitʁ]; Creole: Lapwent, [lapwɛ̃t]) is the largest city of Guadeloupe, an overseas région and département of France located in the Lesser Antilles, of which it is a sous-préfecture, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Pointe-à-Pitre.

Although Pointe-à-Pitre is not Guadeloupe's administrative capital (that distinction goes to Basse-Terre), it is nonetheless the region's largest city and economic capital. In 1999 it had a population of 171,773 inhabitants in its urban area, of whom 17,541 lived in the city (commune) of Pointe-à-Pitre proper. The inhabitants are called "Pointois".

Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport, Guadeloupe's main international airport, is located 3 km (1.9 mi) north of downtown Pointe-à-Pitre in the commune of Les Abymes.

Jacques Bangou is the current mayor of Pointe-à-Pitre.[2]

Name[edit]

Source for this section: L’origine toponyme de Pointe-à-Pitre in Guide de Pointe-à-Pitre (édition 2006-2007).

The name Pointe-à-Pitre, literally the "headland of Pitre", is often said to derive from a Dutch Jewish sailor/fisherman called "Pieter", who settled in the 17th century on a promontory facing the Îlet à Cochon ("Hogs Islet"), just to the south of today's downtown Pointe-à-Pitre. The promontory came to be called "Pointe-à-Pieter" (the "headland of Peter") and later "Pointe-à-Pitre".

A map from 1667 by Engineer François Blondel shows near today's downtown Pointe-à-Pitre a morne de Pitre ("Pitre hill") and a marigot de pitre ("Pitre swamp"). Other maps from the end of the 17th century show a îlet à Pitre ("Pitre islet") and a rivière à Pitre ("Pitre river") in the same area.

History[edit]

Ideally located at the junction of Guadeloupe's two main islands (Basse-Terre Island and Grande Terre), French colonial authorities had long thought about establishing a city on the current location of Pointe-à-Pitre, but several attempts around 1713-1730 failed due to the insalubrious swampy ground.

It is only during the British occupation of Guadeloupe (1759–1763) that a settlement appeared on a hill overlooking the swamps. After the return of Guadeloupe to France in 1763, the city of Pointe-à-Pitre was officially founded under governor Gabriel de Clieu in 1764 by a royal edict, and the swamps where downtown Pointe-à-Pitre stands today were drained in the following years, thus allowing the urban development of the city.

The development of the city was important and relatively rapid, partly thanks to the corsairs. Unfortunately, in 1780, a great fire entirely destroyed the city. Sixty three years later, in 1843, it was again destroyed by an earthquake. The history of Pointe-à-Pitre is marked by many disasters: the fires of 1850, 1871, and 1931, the earthquakes of 1851 and 1897, and the hurricanes of 1865 and 1928. The city also experienced several epidemics of cholera. Its ideal location and large sheltered port have nonetheless allowed Pointe-à-Pitre to become Guadeloupe's largest city and economic capital.

Geography[edit]

Pointe-à-Pitre is situated on the southwest portion of the island of Grande-Terre, facing the Caribbean Sea and is an ideal place in the center of Guadeloupe and is near the Rivière Salée ("Salt River"), which separates Grande-Terre from Basse-Terre Island. The town of Pointe-à-Pitre is surrounded by the communes of Les Abymes, Baie-Mahault and Le Gosier. Pointe-à-Pitre is on a limestone plateau, which was a factor for the construction of the city. The bay, Petit Cul-de-Sac Marin, offers a sheltered port.

Climate[edit]

Like any other Eastern Caribbean city, Pointe-à-Pitre experiences quite evenly spread rainfall during the year, with a wetter season between July and November which coincides with hurricane season. The city receives 1500–2000 mm of rainfall. Tropical heat is the norm, bringing steady highs of around 32°C (89°F) that drop to 20°C (68°F) at night.

Climate data for Pointe-a-Pitre (Le Raizet Airport)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.1
(84.4)
29.1
(84.4)
29.4
(84.9)
30.1
(86.2)
30.7
(87.3)
31.3
(88.3)
31.5
(88.7)
31.6
(88.9)
31.5
(88.7)
31.2
(88.2)
30.5
(86.9)
29.6
(85.3)
30.47
(86.85)
Average low °C (°F) 19.9
(67.8)
19.9
(67.8)
20.4
(68.7)
21.7
(71.1)
23.1
(73.6)
23.8
(74.8)
23.8
(74.8)
23.7
(74.7)
23.3
(73.9)
22.9
(73.2)
22.1
(71.8)
20.9
(69.6)
22.13
(71.82)
Precipitation mm (inches) 84
(3.31)
64
(2.52)
73
(2.87)
123
(4.84)
148
(5.83)
118
(4.65)
150
(5.91)
198
(7.8)
236
(9.29)
228
(8.98)
220
(8.66)
137
(5.39)
1,779
(70.05)
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN) [3]

The trade winds blow from the northeast and often temper the climate.

Demographics[edit]

The tiny commune (municipality) of Pointe-à-Pitre is the center of a larger urban area covering several communes. This urban area – with 171,773 inhabitants at the 1999 census, representing 40% of the population – is the largest in Guadeloupe and one of the largest among French Overseas territories and departments. The seven communes making up the urban area of Pointe-à-Pitre, with their 1999 populations, are as follows:

  • Les Abymes: 63,054 (Les Abymes is the most populated commune in the urban area and indeed in Guadeloupe, and so the urban area of Pointe-à-Pitre is also often called the "Pointe-à-Pitre-Les Abymes" urban area)
  • Le Gosier: 25,360
  • Baie-Mahault: 23,389 (the location of the urban area's main seaport and largest industrial park in the Lesser Antilles)
  • Pointe-à-Pitre: 20,948 (the historic, commercial and administrative heart of the urban area; facing competition from its suburbs, the congested commune of Pointe-à-Pitre has been losing businesses and inhabitants in the past years)
  • Petit-Bourg: 20,528
  • Lamentin: 13,434
  • Goyave: 5,060

Economy[edit]

The city is the commercial capital of Guadeloupe, serving as the main port of call for cargo and passengers alike. The main seaport is the Port de Jarry located across the Bay of Cul-de-Sac Marin in the commune (municipality) of Baie-Mahault. It has one of the biggest container terminals in the Eastern Caribbean with a quay 600m[4] long. The main exports are food crops (bananas, cocoa, coffee and sugar), animal products (beef, milk, yogurt) and manufactured goods (refined petroleum, textiles and medicines). The extensive Zoning Industriel de Jarry, directly west of Pointe-à-Pitre is a major centre of commercial and light industrial activity, notably for warehousing and distribution. Agricultural production continues in the east of the area where cattle rearing, banana and sugarcane growing continues. The nearby suburb of Le Gosier is Guadeloupe's main seaside resort.

Seventy percent of residents of Pointe-à-Pitre resided in subsidized public housing in 2009.[5]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]