Saint Barthelemy is a Caribbean island in the Leeward Islands, east of the US Virgin Islands, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It is hilly, and almost completely surrounded by shallow-water reefs, with plentiful beaches. The highest point is Morne du Vitet at 286 meters (938 feet). The chief environmental issue is the lack of natural rivers or streams; so, fresh water is in short supply, especially in summer, and provided by desalinization of sea water, collection of rain water, or imported water via tanker.
The Brosnan Center has a number of environmental restoration projects around St. Barths, including coral reef restoration. The Réserve Naturelle de St-Barth is a marine protected area surrounding the island. There are Yellow Submarine tours available that allow you to travel six feet below the surface, and observe the marine reserve in safety and comfort. Scuba diving in the reserve is available with Plongee Caraibes Catamaran. Sailing remains one of the most popular outdoor sports in the islands, embodied by the Les Voiles de Saint-Barth regatta each Spring.
Saint Barthelemy was settled by the French in the 1600s. Sweden took it over in the 1700s, hence the names St Barts and Gustavia. After slavery was abolished in the 1800s, Sweden returned the island to France. After WWII, the people of the island became full citizens of France. Today, St Barths is an Overseas Collectivity of France, though technically not a part of the European Union. The island has become the most expensive and exclusive tourist destination in the Caribbean. The High Season runs from mid December to mid April, peaking over the Christmas/New Year period. It has variously been referred to as a playground of the rich and famous, a giant theme park for the glitterati, and a celebrity circus. As such, nightlife hotspots include Nikki Beach St. Barth and Le Ti St. Barth.
- Dispatch, St. Barts: Paying for exclusivity by J Jainchill, 2012
- Sustainable Tourism in Island Destinations by R Dodds & S Graci, 2010