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Guadeloupe Geography


The French overseas department of Guadeloupe, situated among the Lesser Antilles, extends 15° 52′ to 18° 7′ N, and 61° to 63° 5′ W. The length of Guadeloupe proper is 67 km (42 mi) east to west, and its width is 60 km (37 mi) north to south; its total coastline amounts to 656 km (408 mi).

A narrow channel, RivièreSalée, divides Guadeloupe proper into two islands: Basse-Terre (848 km²/327 mi²) and Grande-Terre (585 km² /226 mi²). Outlying islands include Marie-Galante and La Désirade, and the Les Saintes and Petite Terre island groups, near the main islands; St. Barthélémy, about 120 km (75 mi) to the northwest; and St. Martin, about 175 km (110 mi) to the northwest, the northern two-thirds of it French, the southern third Dutch. Total area, including the outlying islands, is 1,780 sq km (687 sq mi).

Basse-Terre is volcanic; its highest peak, La Soufrière (1,484 m/4,869 ft), erupted in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is still active. On the other hand, Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains.

Annual rainfall ranges from 99 cm (39 in) on La Désirade to between 500 and 1,000 cm (200-400 in) on the mountains of Basse-Terre. Ferns, bamboo, mangrove, and tropical hardwoods are abundant.

The island was devastated by several hurricanes in modern times: 12 September 1928, Okeechobee hurricane caused extensive damage and killed thousands of people; 22 August 1964, Guadeloupe was ravaged by Hurricane Cleo, which killed 14 people; 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; 17 September 1989, Category 4 Hurricane Hugo caused very extensive damage, left more than 35,000 homeless, destroyed 10,000 homes, 100% of the banana crops, and 60% 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 21 September 1998, Hurricane Georges pounded the islands causing moderate damage and destroying 90% of the banana crop.


Location :
Caribbean, islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico

Geographic coordinates :
16°15′N 61°35′W

Map references :
Central America and the Caribbean

Area :
total: 1,780 km²
land: 1,706 km²
water: 74 km²
note: Guadeloupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands: the main islands Basse-Terre Island on the west and Grande-Terre on the east, the nearby smaller islands Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (2) and Îles de la Petite Terre, and more to the northwest, beyond St Kitts and Nevis: Saint Barthélemy and Saint-Martin (French part of the island of Saint Martin).

Area – comparative :
10 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries :
total: 10.2 km
border countries: Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten) 10.2 km

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