The New York Times, March 5, 1888, p. 2:|
ONE OF THE WEST INDIESTHE PEOPLE AND INDUSTRIES OF GUADELOUPE.
SUGAR MANUFACTURE AFTER THE MOST APPROVED METHODS--
HOPES BUILT ON THE PANAMA CANAL.
GUADELOUPE, West Indies, Feb.13.--The interest about Pointe-à-Pître is greatly hampered by the constant fear one has of illness engendered by the heat and the filth which are everywhere apparent. There seems to be a series of odors of different degrees of offensiveness extending from the southern extremity of the city all the way through, which bring to mind the spectres of yellow fever and smallpox, and it seems almost a miracle that the place escapes. The refuse is thrown out, trusting to the rain or the slight rise and fall of the Salée River to remove the impurities.
Columbus is said to have discovered this island on his second voyage, and to have named it after some mountains in Spain which it resembled. Like the other islands it played battledoor and shuttlecock as to its ownership from the time the French first captured it in 1635, until it was finally once more gained by them in 1816, since which it has remained in their possession.
In the old days, previous to 1848 when slavery was abolished, people of wealth lived in great style and magnificence on their plantations, but now there is but little of the regal remaining. The competition in trade has somewhat reduced the size of the plantations, while increasing their number.
Pointe-à-Pître, although very much the largest city in the island, is not the capital, the Governor preferring Basse Terre, which is on the western face of the island, but as the land is quite steep, and immense rollers make in the anchorage, necessitating a vessel getting under way when the wind comes out from the West, it has never been as favorite a harbor as that of Pointe-à-Pître, which is well protected by nature from the effects of cyclonic gales, and is also capable of being easily defended by earth works and torpedoes against an attacking enemy.
Quite a business is done by sailing vessels taking mules out from New-York, but with this exception, and an occasional vessel from some other country, the trading is almost entirely with France. The chief industry is the manufacture of sugar, rum and molasses. During our war an attempt was made at cotton raising, but it never attained any great degree of prominence.
As it was found to pay better to refine the sugar on the island before exportation, machinery was introduced and set up, and now at Pointe-à-Pître there is one of the largest sugar mills in the world, where one can see the whole process, from the time the cane is cut until it is packed in bags ready for shipping.
Next to a ride out into the country and among the pretty hills so beautiful at sunset, when their deep purple color is brought out so exquisitely against the splendors of the golden setting, a visit to the sugar mills is about the only thing to do that affords any interest.
And we traced the cane as it went through the large iron cylinders, and then the juice which is squeezed from it as it was led through the pipes and treated to prevent fermentation.
Whatever is used in this treatment mixes with the impurities in the sugar and rises to the surface as a kind of scum. This is carefully removed and forms a cake which is fed to the animals employed about the mill, and, judging from their appearance, it must be very nutritious.
The refuse of the cane after the juice is taken from it is used for fuel, and so there is very little wasted throughout the process.
The clarifying of the juice is carried on through animal charcoal before it reaches the vacuum pans, in which it is carefully boiled, and thin it goes to the centrifugal machines, which revolve with great rapidity, throwing the crystals of sugar to the sides of the bowls, while the heavier molasses falls to the bottom. This process is repeated until the crystallization of the greater part of the sugar has been obtained and the required color appears.
The molasses is still further distilled for the purpose of making rum, and anybody wishing to taste this is cordially invited, but a very little goes a great way, and one never cares to repeat the experiment. They never seem to do anything to age the rum, leaving that to the dealers in the more civilized countries.
As France offers a bounty for sugar made in her colonies they find a very ready market there, and send but little to the United States.
The peasantry that one sees about the country are very attractive; their motions are light and elastic in the extreme, and, although as a rule their faces are not pretty and their hair is utterly beyond their control, they have an exceedingly picturesque and jaunty way of arranging their bright-colored turbans, twisting them about in a manner utterly beyond powers of description, and leaving the two ends flying about their shoulders. They use their eyes very effectively, and always have some word of greeting when meeting a stranger along the road.
The great question of the hour, though, at Guadeloupe, is the Panama Canal, and the effect it will probably have on the island. Their plans for improving their harbor, building docks, careening basins, &c., are gigantic for the size of the place, and its limited resources, and not being able to meet the required outlay they appealed to the home Government, but recieved no encouragement, as the authorities in France were evidently less sanguine, especially since the American press has so consistently set forth the fraudulent methods on the isthmus, and the death blow to their hopes was given when the Government refused the permission to issue the new lottery bonds for the canal.
When the new French Minister came in and there was a fall in Panama shares, the spirits of the colonists were really for the first time at an exceedingly low ebb, but within a few days advices have come from France saying that those shares were somewhat advancing, so their spirits are again up to highwater mark, and they are sure that the people can raise the money, as the canal has been declared as a not impracticable engineering feat.
It don't [sic] really seem, though, that they realize the immense amount of money already spent and the large sums yet to be raised. Their hopes seem now based upon the powers of the company with whom the contract has been made to place the locks.
These people and those of Martinique represent the voices of a larger portion of Frenchmen outside of France than can be found in this portion of the world, and they stand ready to give their money to aid the enterprise. They have already sent a large number of laborers, the very large portion of which, by the way, will never return, and they are still hoping that the initiative they have taken to bring about improvements in their own island to fit their port for the reception of the new flow of commerce will not be labor lost. It is worthy of the highest commendation, and if encouraged it will undoubtedly result profitably to French commerce and be much less costly than many other projects that will be elaborated in view of the increasing Panama traffic should the canal ever be built.
see also: Venezuela News - Dominica - Antigua & Barbuda - Martinique|
All of Guadeloupe
is one time zone at GMT-4,
with no Daylight Savings time.
Guadeloupe has been a French possession since 1635.
The island of Saint Martin is shared with the Netherlands; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles and its northern portion is named Saint-Martin and is part of Guadeloupe.
CIA World Factbook: France
On February 22, 2007 the island communes of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy were officially detached from Guadeloupe and became two separate French overseas collectivities with their own local administration, henceforth separated from Guadeloupe. Their combined population was 35,930 and their combined land area was 74.2 km² at the 1999 census. Guadeloupe thereby lost 8.5 percent of its population and 4.36 percent of its land area, based upon numbers from that census.
Area of Guadeloupe:
1,780 sq km
10 times the size of Washington, DC
Population of Guadeloupe:
July 2006 estimate
Languages of Guadeloupe:
French official 99%, Creole patois
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