Columbus was the first European to set foot on an island that its inhabitants called Karukera. He named the island after the Virgin 'Santa Maria de Gaudalupe de Estremadura'. By doing so, he thanked the Virgin for her support during the heavy storm to America.
Before Columbus' arrival, Arawak and Carib Indians lived on the island. The Arawak Indians were the original inhabitants of the island. It is assumed that these first inhabitants arrived on Guadeloupe about 1800 years ago. However, the island was conquered by the Carib Indians about 1000 years ago. The Arawaks were not driven out, but were given the opportunity to mingle with the Carib Indians. Until the arrival of the first Europeans, the Carib Indians continued to rule Karukera and lived off the proceeds of hunting and fishing.
In 1635 the French came to the island and with that they heralded the end of the presence of the Carib Indians on Guadeloupe. After five years of battle the war was decided in favour of the French. Only a few Carib Indians managed to escape to the nearby island of Dominica.
Several times the English took over, but in 1763, according to the Treaty of Paris, Guadeloupe came into French hands. A problem for the French was that there were no Indians left on Guadeloupe who could work on the plantations. Hence, slaves began to be imported from West Africa. Guadeloupe remained a French colony until 1946. Then it became a French department and became economically independent.
See also the history of France.
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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