Colonized by France in 1635, the island has subsequently remained a French possession except for three brief periods of foreign occupation.
Economy: The economy is based on sugarcane, bananas, tourism, and light industry. Agriculture accounts for about 6% of GDP and the small industrial sector for 11%. Sugar production has declined, with most of the sugarcane now used for the production of rum. Banana exports are increasing, going mostly to France. The bulk of meat, vegetable, and grain requirements must be imported, contributing to a chronic trade deficit that requires large annual transfers of aid from France. Tourism, which employs more than 11,000 people, has become more important than agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange.