Guadeloupe was first sited by Christopher Columbus in 1493, but the indigenous Carib population successfully fended off European efforts to settle the island until 1635, when it became a French possession. It was annexed to France in 1674. Over the next century, the island was seized several times by the British. One indication of Guadeloupe's prosperity at this time is that in the Treaty of Paris (1763), France abandoned its territorial claims in Canada in return for British recognition of French control of Guadeloupe.
In an effort to take advantage of the chaos ensuing from the French Revolution, Britain attempted to seize Guadeloupe in 1794 and held it from April 21 to June 2. The French retook the island under the command of Victor Hughes, who succeeded to free the slaves and turn on the slave-owners who controlled the sugar plantations, but when American interests were threatened, Napoleon sent a force to suppress the rebels and reinstitute slavery.
On February 4, 1810 the British once again seized the island and held it until March 3, 1813, when it was ceded to Sweden as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. Sweden already had a colony in the area, the nearby island of Saint-Barthélemy, but merely a year later Sweden left the island to France in the Treaty of Paris of 1814. An ensuing settlement between Sweden and the British gave rise to the Guadeloupe Fund. French control of Guadeloupe was finally acknowledged in the Treaty of Vienna in 1815. Slavery was abolished on the island in 1848.
Guadeloupe became an overseas département of France on March 19, 1946. A local independence movement has been involved occasionally in acts of terror against the French government in order to achieve its aims.
- See also : Guadeloupe