Saint Barthelemy, officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy (French: Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy
), also known as Ouanalao to the natives, is a French overseas collectivity in the Caribbean. Like Saint Martin
, Saint Barthelemy use to be a commune in Guadeloupe
before seceding in 2003, and is part of the French West Indies. Like the rest of the French West Indies, it's part of the European Union and uses the Euro as it's currency.
Saint Barthelemy is notable for formerly being the only Swedish colony in the Caribbean. The island, which was under British control at the time, was given to Sweden by King Louis XVI in 1784 in exchange for trade rights in Gothenburg. The capital and largest city, Gustavia, was declared a free port by the Swedes, which made it convenient for trading by the Europeans for goods, including contraband material. However, slavery was practiced in the territory under the "Ordinance concerning the Police of Slaves and free Coloured People" of 1787, with the slaves not being freed by the state until the 9th of October, 1847, and the freed slaves suffered economic hardships due to lack of employment opportunities as the island was not a plantation area. After the Saint Barthelemy status referendum in 1877, it was returned to France in 1878 and administered as part of Guadeloupe.
Saint Barth Flag
While the French tricolor is the official flag of Saint Barthelemy, this flag is also used on the island. It consists of the coat of arms of the island centered on a white field. The coat of arms consists of a shield flanked by two seagulls and divided into three horizontal stripes (parted per fess), three gold fleurs-de-lis on blue, above a white Maltese cross on red, over three gold crowns on blue, with a banner with "Ouanalao" below, and a mural crown on top of the shield. The fleurs-de-lis, Maltese Cross, and gold crowns are heraldic reminders of the island's history as a colony ruled by first the Kingdom of France, then the Knights Hospitaller and in turn the Kingdom of Sweden.