Salvation Islands

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Salvation Islands
Map of Salvation Islands and their location.

The Salvation Islands (French: Îles du Salut, so called because the missionaries went there to escape plague on the mainland; sometimes mistakenly[citation needed] called Safety Islands) are a group of small islands of volcanic[citation needed] origin about 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) off the coast of French Guiana, 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) north of Kourou, in the Atlantic Ocean. Although closer to Kourou, the islands are part of Cayenne commune (municipality), specifically Cayenne 1er Canton Nord-Ouest.

Geography[edit]

Islands[edit]

There are three islands, from north to south:

Island Area (ha) Height (m)
Devil's Island 14 40
Royale Island 28 66
Saint-Joseph Island 20 30
Total 62 136

Devil's Island, the most famous due to the political imprisonment there of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, is better known to French speakers as Île du Diable. The total area is 0.62 square kilometres (0.24 square miles). Devil's Island and Île Royale are separated by Passe des Grenadines, Île Royale and Saint-Joseph Island by Passe de Désirade.

Climate[edit]

The climate of Salvation Islands focuses on the characteristics of Royale Island. Royale Island (French: Île-Royale) has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). The average annual temperature in Royale Island is 27.6 °C (81.7 °F). The average annual rainfall is 2,496.7 mm (98.30 in) with May as the wettest month. The temperatures are highest on average in October, at around 28.7 °C (83.7 °F), and lowest in January, at around 26.9 °C (80.4 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded in Royale Island was 34.8 °C (94.6 °F) on 10 November 2008; the coldest temperature ever recorded was 18.4 °C (65.1 °F) on 10 July 1979.

Climate data for Salvation Islands (Île-Royale, altitude 48m, 1991–2020 averages, extremes 1974−present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 31.9
(89.4)
33.2
(91.8)
33.5
(92.3)
34.4
(93.9)
33.9
(93.0)
32.7
(90.9)
32.7
(90.9)
34.6
(94.3)
34.6
(94.3)
34.7
(94.5)
34.8
(94.6)
33.4
(92.1)
34.8
(94.6)
Average high °C (°F) 29.4
(84.9)
29.6
(85.3)
30.1
(86.2)
30.0
(86.0)
29.7
(85.5)
29.7
(85.5)
30.1
(86.2)
30.8
(87.4)
31.4
(88.5)
31.9
(89.4)
31.2
(88.2)
30.1
(86.2)
30.3
(86.5)
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.9
(80.4)
27.0
(80.6)
27.4
(81.3)
27.4
(81.3)
27.2
(81.0)
27.0
(80.6)
27.3
(81.1)
27.9
(82.2)
28.5
(83.3)
28.7
(83.7)
28.3
(82.9)
27.4
(81.3)
27.6
(81.7)
Average low °C (°F) 24.4
(75.9)
24.4
(75.9)
24.8
(76.6)
24.9
(76.8)
24.7
(76.5)
24.3
(75.7)
24.5
(76.1)
25.1
(77.2)
25.5
(77.9)
25.6
(78.1)
25.4
(77.7)
24.8
(76.6)
24.9
(76.8)
Record low °C (°F) 20.0
(68.0)
20.8
(69.4)
21.2
(70.2)
21.4
(70.5)
20.3
(68.5)
20.1
(68.2)
18.4
(65.1)
20.9
(69.6)
21.1
(70.0)
20.5
(68.9)
19.8
(67.6)
20.6
(69.1)
18.4
(65.1)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 261.6
(10.30)
186.2
(7.33)
186.6
(7.35)
348.2
(13.71)
461.0
(18.15)
404.2
(15.91)
188.2
(7.41)
74.8
(2.94)
27.7
(1.09)
38.3
(1.51)
104.3
(4.11)
215.6
(8.49)
2,496.7
(98.30)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 17.1 14.3 14.0 17.6 23.4 23.3 16.5 8.0 3.6 5.8 10.9 18.2 172.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 125.9 151.4 143.7 136.2 203.1 246.9 248.6 202.8
Source 1: Météo-France[1]
Source 2: Meteociel (sunshine 1981-2010)[2]

History[edit]

Between 1852 and 1953, the islands were part of a notorious penal colony for the worst criminals of France. The penal colony stretched along the border with Suriname. Île Royale was the reception centre for the general population of the penal colony; they were housed in moderate freedom due to the difficulty of escape from the island. Saint-Joseph Island was the Reclusion, where inmates were sent to be punished by solitary confinement in silence and darkness for escapes or offences committed in the penal colony. Devil's Island was for political prisoners. In the 19th century, the most famous such prisoner was Captain Alfred Dreyfus, held there from 1895 to 1899 after his conviction in mainland France for treason.

This penal colony was controversial given its reputation for harshness and brutality. Prisoner upon prisoner violence was common, tropical diseases killed many, and a small core of broken survivors returned to France to tell how horrible it was and scare other potential criminals. This system was gradually phased out and ended completely in 1953. Nowadays the islands are a popular tourist destination. The islands were featured in the autobiography Papillon, by Henri Charrière, who was imprisoned there for 9 years. Joseph Conrad's short story An Anarchist (1906) is largely set in Salvation Islands.

As of 1979, the Salvation Islands are protected areas managed by Conservatoire du littoral.[3]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fiche Climatologique Statistiques 1991-2020 et records" (PDF) (in French). Météo-France. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  2. ^ "Normales et records pour Ile Royale (973)". Meteociel. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  3. ^ "Sites & Espaces Protégée" (PDF). Government of French Guiana (in French). p. 54. Retrieved 24 March 2021.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 5°17′09″N 52°35′09″W / 5.28583°N 52.58583°W / 5.28583; -52.58583