Basse-Terre
The Town Hall
The Town Hall
Coat of arms of Basse-Terre
Location of the commune (in red) within Guadeloupe
Location of the commune (in red) within Guadeloupe
Location of Basse-Terre
Coordinates: 15°59′45″N 61°43′45″W / 15.9958°N 61.7292°W / 15.9958; -61.7292Coordinates: 15°59′45″N 61°43′45″W / 15.9958°N 61.7292°W / 15.9958; -61.7292
CountryFrance
Overseas region and departmentGuadeloupe
ArrondissementBasse-Terre
CantonBasse-Terre
IntercommunalityGrand Sud Caraïbe
Government
 • Mayor (2020–2026) André Atallah[1]
Area
1
5.78 km2 (2.23 sq mi)
Population
 (Jan. 2019)[2]
9,861
 • Density1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−04:00 (AST)
INSEE/Postal code
97105 /97100
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Basse-Terre (/bæsˈtɛər/, bæss-TAIR; French: [bɑstɛʁ]; Guadeloupean Creole: Bastè, [bastɛ]) is a commune in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, in the Lesser Antilles. It is also the prefecture (capital city) of Guadeloupe.[3] The city of Basse-Terre is located on Basse-Terre Island, the western half of Guadeloupe.

Although it is the administrative capital, Basse-Terre is only the second largest city in Guadeloupe behind Pointe-à-Pitre. Together with its urban area it had 44,864 inhabitants in 2012 (11,534 of whom lived in the city of Basse-Terre proper).

Geography

The Soufrière volcano
The Soufrière volcano

Basse-Terre is located in the south-western corner of the Basse-Terre portion of the island of Guadeloupe which is itself located some 100 km north of Dominica and some 450 km south-east of Puerto Rico. The commune is at the foot of the Soufrière volcano and is connected to the rest of the island by three main roads:

Basse-Terre has a maritime station that receives cruise ships and has a ferry service to the Îles des Saintes.

The commune is mostly urban with some farmland in the north-east and north-west.[4][5]

The different districts of Basse-Terre are: Agincourt (also Saint-Claude), Bas-du-Bourg, Carmel, Desmarais (also Saint-Claude) Guillaud, Morne-Chaulet, Morne-à-Vaches (also Saint-Claude), Petit-Paris, Pintade, Rivière-des-Peres, La Rue-Maillan, Saint-François, Sur-le Morne, and Versailles.

Climate

Basse-Terre lies at a transitional point between a tropical rainforest climate and a tropical monsoon climate. As is the norm with cities with these two climate types, Basse-Terre features relatively consistent temperatures throughout the year.

Climate data for Basse-Terre
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 31
(88)
32
(90)
31
(88)
32
(90)
33
(91)
33
(91)
37
(99)
38
(100)
33
(91)
33
(91)
32
(90)
32
(90)
38
(100)
Average high °C (°F) 28
(82)
28
(82)
28
(82)
29
(84)
30
(86)
31
(88)
31
(88)
31
(88)
31
(88)
30
(86)
29
(84)
28
(82)
30
(86)
Daily mean °C (°F) 24
(75)
24
(75)
25
(77)
26
(79)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
26
(79)
25
(77)
26
(79)
Average low °C (°F) 20
(68)
20
(68)
21
(70)
22
(72)
23
(73)
24
(75)
24
(75)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22
(72)
21
(70)
22
(72)
Record low °C (°F) 15
(59)
16
(61)
15
(59)
16
(61)
17
(63)
20
(68)
20
(68)
20
(68)
18
(64)
20
(68)
17
(63)
15
(59)
15
(59)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 80
(3.1)
60
(2.4)
70
(2.8)
110
(4.3)
150
(5.9)
120
(4.7)
160
(6.3)
190
(7.5)
230
(9.1)
220
(8.7)
220
(8.7)
140
(5.5)
1,750
(69)
Source: Weatherbase[6]

Toponymy

The name comes from the mariners' vocabulary of the 17th century which designated a land or coast sheltered from the wind, as opposed to Capesterre "Cape to the east of Land".[citation needed]

History

Fort Delgrès
Fort Delgrès

Native American origins

Before Basse-Terre became a French town it was a village of American Indian horticulturists and potters. The village was on the site of the present Basse-Terre Cathedral where archaeological excavations found human remains and other evidence of occupation during the restoration of the cathedral.

In 2005 on the lower part of a Native American garbage dump, excavations have uncovered a new dump containing large amounts of archaeological material: food waste, ceramics, stone tools and shell tools, ornaments, charcoal and a tomb.[7]

Birth of the town of Basse-Terre (1635–1649)

In 1635, when it was part of Saint Kitts and Nevis, an expedition was seeking a place of lasting presence in Guadeloupe. The operation was entrusted to Charles Liénard de l'Olive and Jean du Plessis d'Ossonville together with 4 missionaries and 550 colonists. The landing took place on 28 June 1635, at Pointe Allègre, far from Basse-Terre. Famine pushed the party to the south near the present town of Vieux-Fort in early 1636. The relationship between Native Americans and colonists degraded quickly; Liénard then began a bloody war against the locals. In 1660 a treaty forced him to retreat to Dominica and Saint Vincent. The war forced him to build a fort, today Fort Olive at Vieux Fort. In 1640 Jean Aubert succeeded Liénard as the government of the island and he soon left the site to settle on the left bank of the Galion [fr], which is the current Gourbeyre marina. In 1643 Charles Houël du Petit Pré replaced Aubert and, in 1649, he left the marina site for the right bank of the Galion and built a fort. Some religious built the first church, now the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel [fr], shortly afterwards and the city was organized around the chapel and from the fort to the river of Herbs. This was the beginning of Basse-Terre.

Birth of the town of Saint-François (circa 1680)

Around 1680 on the right bank of the Rivière aux Herbes [fr] (River of Herbs) the Capuchins built a chapel dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi where the present Guadeloupe Cathedral is located and a second centre of population grew around this place of worship. The River of Herbs separated the two distinct villages: Basse-Terre and Saint Francis. In reality, people flocked to the new town because of raids by English privateers who burned the town of Basse-Terre in 1691 and again in 1703. Following these raids the people thought that the fort was attracting foreign privateers and consequently moved to Saint Francis. A stone bridge was built in 1739 replacing a ford and a wooden bridge across the river of Herbs.

British occupation (1759–1763) and tentative revival (1763–1789)

On 23 January 1759, a British expeditionary force captured the island. Guadeloupe was occupied by the British until 10 February 1763, when it was returned to France in the Treaty of Paris. Basse-Terre experienced a resurgence of activity despite the founding of Pointe-à-Pitre in 1764 – a town in a better position to receive the ocean swell – and despite a fire in September 1782. The town was partially redesigned around 1787.

Revolutionary period (1789–1802)

The French Revolution reached the island and therefore Basse-Terre in September 1789. In 1793, counter-revolutionary planters agreed to cede the island to the British. They captured Guadeloupe, then governed by Victor Collot, on 22 April 1794 and appointed Thomas Dundas as the new governor. As early as May 1794, Victor Hugues, sent by the National Convention in Paris, managed to recapture the colony and abolish slavery. The French dislodged the cannon in December 1794 and installed a guillotine. The city was the scene of military operations conducted by General Richepanse, who was sent by Napoleon to reestablish slavery, against Louis Delgrès in 1802. Delgrès retreated to the fort on 20 May 1802 and abandoned it on 22 May.

Difficult renewal (1802–1870)

The town was occupied from 6 February 1810 to 30 May 1814 and again from 10 August 1815 to July 1816. For over 20 years Basse-Terre suffered from the effects of these disturbances. Only after four hurricanes (in 1816, 1821, 1825, and 1844) did Basse-Terre think of rehabilitating the construction and development of the Champ d'Arbaud by building a Military Hospital (now Gerville-Réache High School), a bishopric, sanitation, and expansion of the city by creating new neighbourhoods such as Trianon, Versailles, Petite Guinée, and Petit-Paris but the situation remained unchanged, worsened more by a cholera epidemic in 1865.

Renewed activity (1870–1976)

From 1870 the commune began to recover and inaugurated its town hall in 1899. It was the first city in Guadeloupe to be electrified in 1913. The impetus came from Ali Tur, who arrived after the cyclone of September 1928 and built the courthouse, the General Council, and a market in the 1930s. A port was built (as wooden quays had previously served as a port) from 1961 to 1964, the boulevard was built in 1962 to serve the port: it was extended in 1964 and again in 1965 along what was once a pebble and black sand beach that ran along the coast. On 26 November 1970, 1.5 inches of rain (38.1 mm) fell in a minute, the heaviest ever recorded. Cyclonic conditions repeatedly ravaged the development of this boulevard in 1989 with Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, Hurricane Lenny in 1999, and Hurricane Omar in 2008.

Since 1976

In 1976 73,600 inhabitants of the town were evacuated (from 15 August to 18 November 1976) due to the high activity of the Soufrière volcano. Some evacuees never returned and moved to Jarry. For 20 years, the town centre was depopulated in favour of peri-urban areas or neighbouring towns such Baillif, Saint-Claude, and Gourbeyre despite attempts at renewal.

Heraldry

Arms of Basse-Terre
The fleur-de-lis symbolise the belonging to France while sun symbolises a tropical island.

Blazon:
Gules, charged with a sun of Or; in chief Azure 3 fleurs-de-lis Or.



Administration

List of Successive Mayors[8]

Mayors from the French Revolution to 1944
From To Name
1790 1792 Jean Baptiste Louis Thirus de Pautrizel
1792 La Graët
1821 1829 Baudet
1831 1837 DuperronN
1837 1843 Jean Rémi Terrail
1843 1846 Charles Le Dentu
1847 1848 Aristide Lignières
1848 1848 J. L. Rousseau
1848 1848 Lomont Bernard
1848 1850 P. H. Laurichesse
1850 1850 Pothonier
1850 1852 P. H. Laurichesse
1853 1854 Puech
1854 1863 Rullier
1863 1869 A. Eggimann
1869 1871 Aristide Lignères
1871 1876 Emile Le Dentu
1876 1883 Richard Jean-Romain
1883 1884 Hildebert Bernus
1884 1888 Auguste Silvie
1888 1893 Hildebert Bernus
1893 1894 J. Cascon
1897 1902 Wilfrid Montout
1897 1900 Delmance Demonchy
1911 1925 Arnaud Lignières
1925 1933 Georges Favreau
1933 1938 Maurice Marie-Claire
1938 1944 Maurice Martin
Mayors from 1945
From To Name Party Position
1945 1951 Joseph Pitat Doctor, President of the General Council 1945–1949
1951 1953 Annibal Waneybergue Retired
1953 1959 Élie Chauffrein PCF
1959 1971 Gaston Feuillard Lawyer, MP 1958–1973
1971 1995 Jérôme Cléry PCG Doctor
1995 2001 Lucette Michaux-Chevry RPR Lawyer, President of the Regional Council 1992–2004, Senator 1995–2011
2001 2001 Pierre Martin DVD
2001 2008 Guy Georges DVD Merchant
2008 2014 Lucette Michaux-Chevry UMP Lawyer, former Minister, Senator
2014 2020 Marie-Luce Penchard UMP Territorial Administrator, former Minister
2020 2026 André Atallah

Judicial and administrative bodies

The commune of Basse-Terre has a Courthouse, which was built in 1934 by architect Ali Georges-Tur, and which also houses the Basse-Terre Court of Appeal, a Tribunal d'instance, a High Court an Administrative Court, and an industrial tribunal.[9] The Bar Association of the Bar of Guadeloupe is also established in the commune. Basse-Terre benefits from the presence of a Chamber of bailiffs, a Chamber of Notaries, and a Chamber of Commerce. The prefecture is also present and the city is the seat of the Urban community of South Basse-Terre. There is a police station and a prison.

Twinning

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France

Basse-Terre has twinning associations with:[10]

Demography

In 2017 the commune had 10,058 inhabitants. The total number of households in the commune in 2017 was 4,732.[11] Since 2007 the population has been in decline.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1954 11,837—    
1961 13,978+2.40%
1967 15,690+1.94%
1974 15,457−0.21%
1982 13,656−1.54%
1990 14,003+0.31%
1999 12,410−1.33%
2007 12,451+0.04%
2012 11,534−1.52%
2017 10,058−2.70%
Source: INSEE[12]

Education

The commune has 24 educational institutions:[13]

Former high schools?:

3 private primary schools:[14]

Private secondary schools under contract:[16]

Health

Medical institutions in Basse-Terre are among the largest on the island. In 2012 the hospital in Basse-Terre had 235 beds organized into four areas (emergency, surgery, enlarged internal medicine, obstetrics and pediatrics) and had a staff of 850 doctors, hospital and administrative staff.[17] The commune also has a Health Centre.

Town planning

The central Roundabout in Basse-Terre, at the intersection of boulevard du Général-de-Gaulle and boulevard du Gouverneur-Éboué
The central Roundabout in Basse-Terre, at the intersection of boulevard du Général-de-Gaulle and boulevard du Gouverneur-Éboué

Urban morphology

360º Panorama of the waterfront of Basse-Terre along the boulevard du Général-de-Gaulle

Over the centuries the commune spread along a street formerly named Grand Rue. The River of Herbs separates two early nuclei of houses which now correspond to the districts of Carmel and Saint Francis. The town developed on a narrow coastal strip between the Caribbean Sea and the first hills of the long mountain ridge that divides the island in two. The volcanic massif of the Soufrière is to the north-east and the mountains of Caraïbes and Houëlmont are to the south-east, which enclose the commune in lush greenery. The city itself stretches over 3 km in spite of a rugged terrain intersected by ravines.

Communal territory

The boundaries of the commune have varied over the centuries. The colonial Decree of 20 September 1837 endorsed the creation of communes (endorsed on 12 November 1789) and set the powers of the mayor and city council. The territory of Basse-Terre was previously split into two: intra-muros which was the urban part and its inner periphery and extra-muros that extended to the slopes of the Soufrière (although this terminology is used, the city has never been surrounded by walls). In 1837 two new communes were created by cutting extra-muros from Basse-Terre and the future Saint-Claude and Gourbeyre were created. A decision of the municipal council of 15 March 1839 specified the limits of the commune. By 16 October 1953, the commune has grown and included the neighbourhoods of Rivière-des-Peres by the sea as well as Pintade, Thillac, Morne-à-Vaches, Desmarais, Guillard, and Delille.

Housing

The total number of dwellings in the commune is 6,143 (2017). 77.0% are primary residences. The number of second homes is 80.8% and the number of vacancies is 22.2% which is above the national average of 8%.[11]

Economy

The area of the commune has been greatly reduced since the end of the 19th century and its mountainous terrain does not allow it to develop large-scale farming.[citation needed] Only the Bologna distillery, a rum producer, remains significant and is one of the jewels of local production shared with the commune of Baillif.[citation needed] The city, as capital of the department, hosts major administration establishments as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Basse-Terre.[citation needed]

There has been development of the economic sector through improving the reception of cruise ships and passengers in the port of Basse-Terre.[18] The first stone for the ferry terminal was laid on 27 December 2013. The modern terminal has a capacity of 100 people with areas for ticketing and restaurants was opened on 2 October 2015.[19]

Employment

The unemployment rate in 2017 for the town was 40.7% out of a total workforce of 4,286 individuals.[11]

Division of employees into type of activity (2017)

  Agricultural workers Tradesmen, shopkeepers, company directors Managers and Professionals Middle managers Employees Workers
Basse-Terre 0.9% 6.2% 3.7% 16.1% 39.9% 20.0%
Source of data: INSEE[11]

Culture and heritage

The commune has a very large number of buildings and sites that are registered as historical monuments.[20] Some of the most interesting are shown below.

Civil heritage

Religious heritage

Festivals

Sport

Sports facilities in the commune:

They are used by sports clubs:

Media

The TV channel Guadeloupe I and radio Guadeloupe I are available in the commune.

Picture gallery

Notable people linked to the commune

See also

References

  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires". data.gouv.fr, Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 2 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2019". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2021.
  3. ^ Commune de Basse-Terre (97105), INSEE
  4. ^ a b c Basse-Terre on Google Maps
  5. ^ a b Basse-Terre on the Géoportail from National Geographic Institute (IGN) website (in French)
  6. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Basse-Terre".
  7. ^ Report of Activity 2006, Inrap, page 87 Archived 17 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
  8. ^ List of Mayors of France (in French)
  9. ^ List of competent jurisdictions for Basse-Terre, Ministry of Justice website (in French).
  10. ^ National Commission for Decentralised cooperation (in French)
  11. ^ a b c d Dossier complet: Commune de Basse-Terre (97105), INSEE (in French)
  12. ^ Historique des populations communales, INSEE
  13. ^ Schools in Basse-Terre (in French)
  14. ^ a b c "LISTE DES ECOLES PUBLIQUES ET PRIVEES SOUS CONTRAT." Académie de la Guadeloupe [fr]. Retrieved on 10 March 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Établissements du 2nd degré PUBLIC 2017–2018." Académie de la Guadeloupe [fr]. Retrieved on 10 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Etablissements du 2nd degré privé sous contrat 2017–2018."Académie de la Guadeloupe [fr]. Retrieved on 10 March 2018.
  17. ^ Presentation of the Hospital Centre of Basse-Terre on its official website (in French)
  18. ^ Major work planned in the port in France-Antilles on 19 March 2011 (in French)
  19. ^ Basse-Terre turns around its port (in French)
  20. ^ Base Mérimée: Search for heritage in the commune, Ministère français de la Culture. (in French)
  21. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA97100904 Fort Delgrès (in French)
  22. ^ Marie-Emmanuelle Desmoulins, The Guadaloupen interlude of Georges Rohner: the paintings in the Town Hall of Basse-Terre (1934–1936), In Situ – Revue of Heritage, No. 6, 2005 Read online (in French)
  23. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100025 Painting: Portrait of Victor Schoelcher
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  24. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100024 Painting: Horseman talking to a woman and small boy
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  25. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100023 Painting: Workman carrying a hand of bananas
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  26. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100022 Painting: Two fishermen shaking their nets with a woman
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  27. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100021 Painting: Two fishermen shaking their nets
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  28. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100020 Painting: Basse-Terre Bay
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  29. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100020 Painting: Women talking under a tree
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  30. ^ a b c Michèle Robin-Clerc, Descriptive note of the works of Ali Tur, Conseil régional de Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre, 2010, p. 7-8 (in French)
  31. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA97100912 Courthouse (in French)
  32. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA97100911 Lycée général et technologique Gerville-Réache (in French)
  33. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00105889 General Council of Guadeloupe (in French)
  34. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA97100914 Prefecture of Guadeloupe
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  35. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00105849 Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadeloupe (in French)
  36. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA97100917 Bell Tower of the Cathedral (in French)
  37. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA97101043 Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (in French)
  38. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100018 Cabinet
    Camera aabb.svg
    (in French)
  39. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100005 Processional Cross (in French)
  40. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100004 Monstrance (in French)
  41. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100003 Funeral plaque for Jean Louis Honoré d'Hesmivy (in French)
  42. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100002 Funeral plaque for François Charles de Bourlamaque (in French)
  43. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM97100001 Sculpture (in French)
  44. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA97100022 Saint Antoine Monastery (in French)