Guadeloupe , one of the Leeward islands of the West Indies, and the most important of those which belong to France, between lat. 15° 57' and 16° 30' N., and Ion. 61° 15' and 61° 45' W.; area, including dependencies, 625 sq. m.; pop. in 1868, 152,910, three fourths of whom are colored. It consists, properly speaking, of two islands, separated by a narrow channel, not more than from 30 to 100 yards broad, called Riviere Salee or Salt river, navigable for small vessels. The western island, styled Guadeloupe proper, is 35 m. long and 18 m. wide; the eastern, called Grande-Terre, is of about the same length, but only 12 m. wide. Guadeloupe proper is of volcanic origin, and is traversed from N. to S. by a mountain range whose summit is a volcano called the Soufriere, about 5,000 ft. high. Grande-Terre is low, flat, and marshy, composed of coralline matter and marine detritus. The climate is hot, humid, and unhealthy. Hurricanes are frequent and destructive. In 1843 there was a severe earthquake. The exports are sugar, molasses, rum, cotton, tobacco, coffee, dye woods, and copper. The imports are cotton goods, pottery, glassware, provisions, medicines, etc. In 1870 the exports to France amounted to 24,900,000 francs, the imports from France to 9,800,000 francs.
The government of Guadeloupe consists of a governor, a privy council of 6, and a general council of 30 members. It has its seat at Basse-Terre, the capital, and exercises jurisdiction over the islands of Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Desirade, Les Saintes, and St. Martin. Grande-Terre possesses two harbors, those of Moule and Pointe-a-Pitre. The latter, at the S. entrance of the Riviere Salee, is one of the best in the Antilles, and is the residence of a United States consul. Guadeloupe was discovered by Columbus in 1493. The French took possession of it in 1635, and after having been repeatedly taken from and by them in the next century and a half, it was ultimately restored to them in 1816. Slavery was abolished in 1848.