Saint Barthelemy, also known as Saint Barts, is a small French territory in the Caribbean Sea near the territories of Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Saint Barts has a total population of about eight thousand, eight hundred residents, and covers an area of just over eight square miles. St. Barts was originally settled by the Ciboney Indians, although that group ultimately failed to establish a permanent foothold on the island. The first permanent residents of Saint Barts were Arawak Indians, followed by Carib Indians and eventually French colonists. Although Saint Barts is a volcanic island, nearly the entire island is circled by coral reefs and white sand beaches. There are a total of twenty two public beaches on Saint Barts, as well as thousands of acres of protected wildlife habitats. The island’s endemic species and marine habitats are of particular interest to biologists and other scientists, and many areas are restricted to scientific access only.
Saint Barts is a generally low lying island, with the highest point, Morne Videt, measuring in at less than a thousand feet above sea level. There are forty administrative subdivisions on Saint Barts, including the quartier hosting the capital city of Gustavia. Saint Barts’ economy is largely dependent on tourism and commerce, with a number of high end resorts and hotels dotting the landscape of the island. An estimated two hundred thousand tourists per year visited Saint Barts that year, enjoying luxurious facilities as well as water sports and great weather. In addition to tourist and cultural attractions, Saint Barts boasts exceptional biodiversity, including rare turtles, brown pelicans, and frigate birds. Some well known historical sites on Saint Barts include Gustavia Harbor and the Saint Barts Municipal Museum as well as the island’s cathedrals and the Gustavia Lighthouse.