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[The French West Indies are islands located in the Caribbean Sea (Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy, the French part of Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe and its dependencies: Marie-Galante, les Saintes and la Désirade).

  • Guadeloupe

Composed of two regions: Basse-Terre and Grade-Terre and with a total area of 1,438 km2, it is a monodepartmental overseas region.



  • Martinique

With an area of 1,128 km2, it is an overseas department and region composed of 4 districts: Fort-de-France, Le Marin, Saint-Pierre, La Trinité.



  • Saint Barthelemy

It is an overseas collectivity. Saint Barthélemy is located in the north of the Antilles and has about 10 000 inhabitants.



  • Saint Martin

Overseas collectivity since 2007, Saint Martin has more than 35 000 inhabitants. French is the official language of this COM.



  • The Saintes archipelago

The Saintes archipelago is composed of many volcanic islets and two communes (Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas). The Saintes archipelago was under English influence for a long time before becoming French in 1763 (Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763 which put an end to the French-English rivalry). The islands were exploited by the French West India Company.



  • Marie – Galante

With an area of 158 km2, it is one of the main islands of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. Also called “the big cake”, Marie-Galante is known for its tourist attraction and for its agricultural products. Although French is the official language, the people of Marie-Galante also speak Creole (the language of the island).




  • La Désirade

Located in the Lesser Antilles, Désirade has many archaeological sites, as well as many monuments from the Spanish and French colonial era.

Today, the West Indies have 850,000 inhabitants. The French colonization of Guadeloupe dates back to 1635.

The French Creole, which derives from French and African languages, was born during this period.




The French-speaking world of the West Indies is made up of more than 9 million French speakers. French is the official language in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. The origins of French in these islands go back to the colonial period.

Origin of the French language in the West Indies

French colonial expansion continued from 1625 to 1635 in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Creole languages of African origin also evolved in contact with the French language.

The learning of French thus appeared in the context of the colonization of this region. Slavery was officially abolished in 1848.

French only became the official language of Guadeloupe in 1958. It is the language used for all administrative and legal formalities. Guadeloupeans also speak French-Creole which is an integral part of their history and culture.

More than 81% of the Antilleans speak French today. In addition to Creole and French, the population also speaks other languages such as Spanish, Italian, English, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese.

All these islands speak French and West Indian Creole.
According to the dictionary, the natives of these islands are called “Creoles”. But originally, the Creoles are the settlers living on these territories.


Definition : Creole

adjective and noun

(Spanish criollo, from Portuguese crioulo, black born in the colonies)

1. A person of European descent born in the former European plantation colonies (West Indies, French Guianas, Reunion, etc.).
2. By extension according to the Hexagon. Any person born in these regions, regardless of ancestry.

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