Geography of Guadeloupe

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In green (with red legend) are the constituent parts of the Guadeloupe région/département among the Leeward Islands. The 2 islands of Guadeloupe proper are: Basse-Terre Island (left) and Grande-Terre (right).

The department of Guadeloupe comprises five islands: Guadeloupe island composed of Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre (separated from Basse-Terre by a narrow sea channel called salt river) and the dependencies composed by the adjacent French islands of La Désirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief whilst/while Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains. Guadeloupe was formed from multiple volcanoes, of which only Basse-Terre is not extinct.[1]

Further to the north, Saint-Barthélemy and the French part of Saint Martin come under the jurisdiction of Guadeloupe. On December 7, 2003, both of these areas voted to become an overseas territorial collectivity.[2]


Map of the Guadeloupe archipelago
View of La Désirade from Pointe des Châteaux, the easternmost part of Grande-Terre.

The department was devastated by several hurricanes in modern times:

  • On 12 September, 1928 Okeechobee hurricane caused extensive damage and killed thousands of people.
  • On 22 August 1964, Guadeloupe was ravaged by Hurricane Cleo, which killed 14 people.
  • Two years later, on 27 September 1966, Hurricane Inez caused extensive damage and killed 27 people, mostly in Grande-Terre. Charles De Gaulle visited the island after the hurricanes and declared it a disaster area.
  • On 17 September 1989, Category 4 Hurricane Hugo caused very extensive damage, left more than 35,000 homeless, destroyed 10,000 homes, 100 percent of the banana crops, and 60 percent of the sugar cane crops.
  • From late August to mid September 1995, the island was in the path of three successive cyclones: Tropical Storm Iris on 28 August caused minor damages; Hurricane Luis on 5 September caused moderate damages in north coast of Grande-Terre; Hurricane Marilyn on 15 September caused moderate damages in Basse-Terre.
  • On 20 September 1998, Hurricane Georges pounded the islands, decimated the banana crops at nearly 100%.


Caribbean, islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea, southeast of Cuba and Hispaniola.
Geographic coordinates
16°15′N 61°35′W / 16.250°N 61.583°W / 16.250; -61.583
Map references
Central America and the Caribbean
  • Total: 1,628 km2 (629 sq mi)
  • Land: 1,554 km2 (600 sq mi)
  • Water: 74 km2 (29 sq mi)
  • Note: Guadeloupe department is composed of six inhabited islands: the main islands which formed Guadeloupe island: Basse-Terre Island on the west and Grande-Terre on the east, and the nearby smaller islands : Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (Terre-de-Haut island and Terre-de-Bas island).
Area – comparative
10 times the size of Washington, DC
306 km (190 mi)
Maritime claims
  • Exclusive economic zone: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)
  • Territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi)
Tropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity
Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin
Elevation extremes
Natural resources
Cultivable land, beaches and climate that foster tourism
Land use
  • Arable land: 14%
  • Permanent crops: 4%
  • Permanent pastures: 14%
  • Forests and woodland: 39%
  • Other: 29% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land
30 km2 or 12 sq mi (1993 est.)
Natural hazards
Hurricanes (June to October); La Grande Soufrière is an active volcano
Environment – current issues

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website