Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the eastern Caribbean Sea
Guadeloupe comprises five islands: Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre (separated from Basse-Terre by a narrow sea channel called Salt River) with the adjacent islands of La Desirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. (Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief, while Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains.) Further to the north are Saint-Barthélemy and Saint Martin .
Basse-Terre is topped by eight peaks with the second to southernmost, the volcano Soufriere, being the tallest. Grande-Terre is characterized by low hills which hide it behind Basse-Terre and like many of the less mountainous windward isles, the eastern half is a great salt-water bog.
South of Basse-Terre rest the rocky Isles des les Saintes, which make navigating the southern coast of Basse-Terre a difficult prospect for deep-draft ships.
During his second trip to America, Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Guadeloupe in November 1493, seeking fresh water. He called it Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, after the image of the Virgin Mary venerated at the Spanish monastery of Villuercas, in Guadalupe, Extremadura. However, the expedition set ashore just south of Capesterre but did not leave any settlers ashore.
After successful settlement on the island of St Christophe (St Kitts), the French American Islands Company delegated Charles Lienard and Jean Duplessis, Lord of Ossonville to colonize one or any of the region’s islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique or Dominica. Due to Martinique’s inhospitable nature, the duo resolved to settle in Guadeloupe. The French took possession of the island in 1635 and wiped out many of the Carib amerindians. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1674.
Guadeloupe is most like France of all her colonies in the Caribbean. This includes the religious makeup of the population with a Catholic majority which makes Huguenots and other Protestants unwelcome. The capitol is the town of Basse-Terre on the southwest coast of the island of the same name. Several other towns and villages dot the shoreline of both islands with Pointe-A-Pitre being the largest settlement on Grande-Terre.