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Saint-Barthélemy is an island of the Lesser Antilles. It has been a French overseas territory since February 2007. Since 1 January 2012, it has been one of the overseas countries and territories associated with the European Union.
To the northwest is the French-Dutch island of St Martin (Dutch: Sint Maarten), to the south are St Kitts and the Dutch islands of Sint Eustatius and (to the southwest) Saba. Barbuda lies in the east southeast.
The island has an area of 21 km² and 9625 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2015) and thus 458 inhabitants per km². The highest elevation with 286 m is the Morne de Vitet in the east of the island.
Besides the main island, Saint-Barthélemy also has a number of smaller uninhabited islands, including Île Fourchue (0.99 km²), Île Chevreau (Île Bonhomme) (0.62 km²), Île Frégate (0.29 km²), La Tortue (L’Ecalle) (0.4 km²), Île Toc Vers (0,15 km²), Île le Boulanger, Île Coco, Mancel (La Poule et les Poussins), Île Pelé, Pain de Sucre, Île Petit-Jean and Les Grenadins.
Until 2007, Saint-Barthélemy was a municipality and, together with the French part of the neighbouring island of St Martin, formed an arrondissement of the overseas department of Guadeloupe, the arrondissement of Saint-Martin-Saint-Barthélemy (also known as the arrondissement of the Îles du Nord, “arrondissement of the northern islands”).
After a referendum held in 2003, Saint-Barthélemy separated from Guadeloupe on 22 February 2007 – alongside Saint-Martin – and became its own Collectivité d’outre mer. In the future, however, the administration will continue to correspond to that of a French municipality. Non-French citizens from an EU country will also be able to take part in municipal elections in the future. Since 1 January 2012, Saint-Barthélemy is no longer part of the European Union as an associated overseas territory (OCT), but keeps the euro as legal tender.
Michel Magras has represented the island in the French Senate since 1 October 2008 and is a member of the Les Républicains Group.
There is an airport on the island, the Aéroport de Saint-Barthélemy-Rémy de Haenen (IATA code: SBH). The length of the runway is 646 metres and ends directly at the water. A special pilot licence is required. The approach is demanding due to the constantly changing winds and the location behind a chain of hills.
According to the census of 1 January 2015, Saint-Barthélemy has 9625 inhabitants. The majority of the current inhabitants are descendants of French colonial settlers, most of whom came from Normandy, Brittany and other regions in northern and western France. Most of the former African slaves left the island for other Caribbean islands after the abolition of slavery in 1847, making Saint-Barthélemy one of the few Antilles islands with a predominantly white population. This is why French is the most spoken language, with the locals partly speaking a French Patois. In the west of the island, this has similarities to the French spoken in Quebec and other North American language islands. In the east of the island, the part where plantation farming used to be limited, it resembles more of an archaic variant of the African-influenced Caribbean Patois of Martinique. Swedish has left no significant traces in the language other than a few place names. A large part of the population now speaks English as a second language in order to be able to communicate with international tourists on the one hand and with the inhabitants of neighbouring islands on the other, where Caribbean English is spoken (St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Virgin Islands, etc.).
Saint-Barthélemy was also the home of Eugénie Blanchard, who was born on 16 February 1896 and was the oldest living French citizen and, since the death of Manuela Fernández-Fojaco of Spain on 6 January 2009, the oldest European Union citizen. With the death of the Japanese Kama Chinen, born on 10 May 1895, on 2 May 2010, she also became the oldest person in the world, until she herself died on 4 November 2010.