Part of the French West Indies alongside St Martin, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, the island of Saint Barthélémy, more commonly referred to as St Barts (English) or St Barth (French), was originally attached to the Guadeloupe archipelago, before becoming its own overseas collectivity in 2007, along with St Martin.
St Barts is the only Caribbean island to have been under Swedish ruling for a long period of time, an heritage still represented to this day on the island’s coat of arms, through its Three Crowns. However, St Barts’ culture is predominantly influenced by its French heritage, which can be found and enjoyed in its language as well as in its critically acclaimed culinary scene.
The island counts over 9,000 inhabitants, most of whom are descendants of the first settlers. Residents of St Barts are of French nationality and French is the island’s official language, with English being spoken and understood in most hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Unlike many Caribbean islands, the local dialects here are determined by geographical distinction, as opposed to racial, with the St Barthélémy French patois being spoken on the leeward side of the island, whilst Créole French is found on the windward end.
A popular destination for the rich and famous, especially over Christmas time, the island benefits from an average year-round temperature of 25oC (rising up to 32oC during the daytime), and an average water temperature of 27oC. St Barts’ winter and dry season stretches from December to April, whilst its summer and rainy season runs from May to November, with the eastern side of the island being generally wetter than the western.
Whilst the dry climatic conditions make it hard for wildlife to thrive, the island still boasts a colourful variety of flora as well as some impressive fauna species, which its many ecological programs strive to protect and preserve from the potential damages of a successful tourism industry.