The Caribbean is a North American region with over 700 cays reefs, islets, and islands which create an island arc that outlines the northern and eastern edges of the Caribbean Sea. These islands including the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles are part of the West Indies. The region is divided into 30 territories (dependencies, overseas departments, and sovereign states) and has a population of over 43.6 million people. The Caribbean occupies an area of about 1,063,000 square miles.
French Speaking Caribbean Nations
Haiti is an island state situated on Hispaniola Island. Haiti occupies three-eighths of Hispaniola Island (10,714 square miles). Haiti has a population of over 10.7 million people, making it the second most populous Caribbean state. It is the biggest French-speaking Caribbean state with over 42% of the population conversing in French. It is one of the two independent American countries to make French their official language. Haiti was established on January 1, 1804, becoming the first independent state in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Guadeloupe is one of the overseas regions and departments of France, situated on the Leeward Islands which is made up of one overseas department. Guadeloupe occupies an area of about 629 square miles and has a population of about 449,246 people. It is the most populous and biggest European territory on the continent. Guadeloupe has two main islands (Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre) that are divided by a strait. As part of the European Union, any citizen of the eurozone can work and settle in Guadeloupe indefinitely. French is Guadeloupe’s official language, but the entire population converses in Antillean Creole.
Martinique is an island region of France that occupies an area of about 436 square miles. Martinique has one department and has a population of over 385,034 people. As part of the French Republic, it is a member of the European Union whose main currency is Euro. French is the official language of Martinique, but the locals can also converse in Antillean Creole.
Saint Martin is a small islet situated on the northeastern parts of the Caribbean, about 190 miles from Puerto Rico. The island, which occupies an area of about 34 square miles, is split 40/60 between the Netherlands (13 square miles) and France (20 square miles) and it is the only land boundary between the Netherlands and France. The northern part of the island which is known as Saint Martin is a French territory with a population of over 29,376 people.
History of French in the Caribbean
The first French colony in the Caribbean was established by Pierre Belain, a French adventurer and trader in 1635 on the Martinique Island. After six months on the island, he returned to St Christopher where he died in 1636. Jacques Parquet, his nephew, took over the settlement and became the first governor in 1637. After securing Martinique, Parquet established another settlement in Saint Lucia (1643) and Grenada (1649). The French influence in Haiti started in 1660, and by 1697 the region was split into two parts with the Spanish occupying the eastern part while the French occupied the western part of the Hispaniola Island.