The island of St. Barts was originally inhabited by the native Carib Indians, who had lived on the island for hundreds of years before Europeans ever arrived. When Christopher Columbus discovered the island, he christened it St. Bartholome and claimed the location for Spain. In the ensuing years, the French became the first key European nation to be increasingly involved with the island, especially given its strategic location along the West Indian Trade Route. After the French put down a number of local native uprisings in the late 1600s, they officially established a formal colony on the island.
St. Barts remained under the authority of the French until 1794, when France decided to give Sweden sovereignty over the island. Under Swedish oversight, the economic and cultural development on St. Barts flourished, with key settlements such as Gustavia becoming vibrant trade and shipping centers. However, a number of natural and economic disasters in the 1800s forced the Swedish government to sell the island back to France, who renamed the island Saint-Barthelemy.
Today, St. Barts is distinguished as an Overseas Department and Region of France, as well as a dependency of Guadeloupe. Although the island has its own sovereign and independently functioning government, St. Barts and nearby St. Martin are part of Guadeloupe’s Sous-Prefecture, and as such are represented by a Sous-Prefect.
Whether your ideal Caribbean vacation is one in which you can relax on a palm-tree lined, tropical white-sand beach, swim in crystal clear Caribbean water, shop in quaint local boutiques, or explore the lush natural landscape of tropical paradise, St. Barts has just what you need to ensure that your getaway is unforgettable. The shopping on St. Barts is some of the finest in the entire Caribbean, with over 200 shops spread across the island selling a wide variety of local and designer goods. The town of Gustavia is one of the most popular shopping destinations on the island, with two major shopping strips. And because the island has a duty-free port, visitors and locals alike are able to purchase quality products at exceptionally affordable rates.
St. Barts is also famous around the world for its spectacular beaches. The unspoiled white sand, gorgeous turquoise waters, and laidback atmosphere provide the perfect setting for you to relax, unwind, and soak in the island’s endless sunshine. Some of St. Barts’ most popular beaches are St. Jean, Anse a Colombier, Marigot, and Saline.
Additionally, the island boasts a vibrant, exciting nightlife, and, with its wide range of bars, clubs, and restaurants, you are sure to find the one that suits your tastes. The town of Gustavia is perhaps the best destination on the island to experience the best that St. Barts’ nightlife has to offer, with popular establishments such as The Yacht Club, Casa Nikki, and Pumpkin, attracting visitors and locals alike.