Saint Barthelemy (sometimes abbreviated Saint-Barth (French); St. Barts or St. Barths (English)) is a sovereign country in Central America/Caribbean, with a total land area of approximately 25 sq km. Discovered in 1493 by Christopher COLUMBUS who named it for his brother Bartolomeo, Saint Barthelemy was first settled by the French in 1648. In 1784, the French sold the island to Sweden, who renamed the largest town Gustavia, after the Swedish King GUSTAV III, and made it a free port; the island prospered as a trade and supply center during the colonial wars of the 18th century. France repurchased the island in 1877 and took control the following year. It was placed under the administration of Guadeloupe. Saint Barthelemy retained its free port status along with various Swedish appellations such as Swedish street and town names, and the three-crown symbol on the coat of arms. In 2003 the populace of the island voted to secede from Guadeloupe, and in 2007 the island became a French overseas collectivity.
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