Discovered in 1493 by Christopher COLUMBUS who named it for his brother Bartolomeo, Saint Barthelemy was first settled by the French in 1648. In 1784, the French sold the island to Sweden, who renamed the largest town Gustavia, after the Swedish King GUSTAV III, and made it a free port; the island prospered as a trade and supply center during the colonial wars of the 18th century. France repurchased the island in 1878 and placed it under the administration of Guadeloupe. Saint Barthelemy retained its free port status along with various Swedish appellations such as Swedish street and town names, and the three-crown symbol on the coat of arms. In 2003, the populace of the island voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007, the island became a French overseas collectivity.
Saint-Barthélemy is a French island located in the Caribbean among the Leeward Islands. Its land area is 21.0 km² (8.1 sq. miles). Administratively, the whole island of Saint-Barthélemy is a French Overseas Collectivity, until recently part of Guadeloupe and is part of the European Union.
The island is also known as St Barts, Saint Barths, or Saint Barth.
St Barts has long been considered a playground of the rich and famous and is known for its beautiful pristine beaches, gourmet dining in chic restaurants and high-end designer shopping. There is one small airport that can only accomodate small prop planes from St Martin and San Juan, and the harbor is too small to accomodate cruise ships. The fact that it is hard to get to is part of the island's appeal.
Singer Jimmy Buffett is a frequent visitor on the island, and owns a house there. He also owned a hotel, the Autor de Rocher, which burned down in the early '80s. David Letterman and Steve Martin also own property on the island, as well as the French singing star Johnny Hallyday.
Noteworthy annual events include New Years, Carnival in February, The Bucket in late March (a sailing event featuring the largest sailing yachts in the world), and Bastille Day.
Read more about Saint-Barthélemy in our Saint-Barthélemy travel guide »