Saint-Barthélemy, officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy, is an overseas collectivity of France. Often abbreviated to Saint-Barth in French, or St. Barts or St. Barths in English, the indigenous people called the island Ouanalao. St. Barthélemy lies about southeast of St. Martin and north of St. Kitts. Puerto Rico is to the west in the Greater Antilles.Saint Barthélemy was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France. In 2003, the island voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France. The collectivity is one of four territories among the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies, along with Saint Martin, Guadeloupe ( southeast), and Martinique.Saint Barthélemy, a volcanic island fully encircled by shallow reefs, has an area of and a population of 9,035 (Jan. 2011 estimate). Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour to the island. It is the only Caribbean island which was a Swedish colony for any significant length of time; Guadeloupe was under Swedish rule only briefly at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Symbolism from the Swedish national arms, the Three Crowns, still appears in the island's coat of arms. The language, cuisine, and culture, however, are distinctly French. The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season, especially for the rich and famous during the Christmas and new year period.
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