The French Antilles consist of two overseas departments and two overseas collectivities of France situated in the Antilles islands in the Caribbean. The two departments include Martinique and Guadeloupe which comprises six inhabited islands of Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Les Saintes, La Desirade, and Marie-Galante.
Meanwhile, the two overseas collectivities are Saint Maarten and Saint Barthelemy. Guadeloupe and Martinique are an important part of France and the EU. Covering a larger size, these two bigger islands have a more diverse terrain from white beaches to rugged mountains. On the other hand, the two collectivities are home to luxury hotels and are known to be a playground of the elite. Native Caribs in the French Antilles were mostly eliminated by the colonists who formed an economic system that depends on sugar plantations and had African slaves as workers. In 1848, France put an end to slavery but the islands still remained to be under colonial rule until 1946 when they became French overseas departments.
The economic activity of the French Antilles heavily relies on exports with the majority being brought to France, among each other, and other European Union members. Its export is mainly agricultural commodities. Because of its insufficient production of food, the French Antilles import large volumes of food items. Imported goods include vehicles, and machinery, and construction equipment that is relatively more expensive than its exports. Consequently, they have accumulated a sizeable amount of debts.
However, with France’s intervention, French Antilles managed to alleviate its debts and dodged from falling into the structural adjustment program. The islands also benefit from servicing military bases, meteorological and geophysical research bases, and fishing fleets with fish catches being transported to France and the French Department of Reunion. Before the euro was introduced in 1999, the French Antilles franc was the currency of the islands. Banknotes bear a French-style numbering system. In 1962, The Issuing Institute of French Republic Overseas Territories issued a new set of banknotes with the member department and collectivities’ names printed on the borders. These paper bills feature locals, seascapes, landscapes, and ways of life.