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Located approximately 250 kilometres (160 mi) east of Puerto Rico and the nearer Virgin Islands, St. Barthélemy lies immediately southeast of the islands of Saint Martin and Anguilla. It is one of the Renaissance Islands. St. Barthélemy is separated from Saint Martin by the Saint-Barthélemy Channel. It lies northeast of Saba and St Eustatius, and north of St Kitts. Some small satellite islets belong to St. Barthélemy including Île Chevreau (Île Bonhomme), Île Frégate, Île Toc Vers, Île Tortue and Gros Îlets (Îlots Syndare). A much bigger islet, Île Fourchue, lies on the north of the island, in the Saint-Barthélemy Channel. Other rocky islets which include Coco, the Roques (or little Turtle rocks), the Goat, and the Sugarloaf.

History of St Barth Discovery Before European contact the island was possibly frequented by Eastern Caribbean Taíno people. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter the island in 1493. He named it after his brother Bartolomeo. Sporadic visits continued for the next hundred years until formal colonization began taking shape. 17th century On 19 March 1946, the people of the island became French citizens with full rights. Many men from St. Barthélemy took jobs on Saint Thomas to support their families. The island received electricity circa 1961. Organised tourism and hotels began in earnest the 1960s and developed in the 1970s onwards particularly after the building of the island's landing strip which can accommodate mid-sized aircraft; capitalizing on its low population density, tropical peaks and sandy coastline with many coves. The coves and beach-side hotels attract catered and self-catered yachts and honeymooners. The capital has many businesses and attracts cruise liners. 21st century Saint Barthélemy was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France. Through a referendum in 2003, island residents sought separation from the administrative jurisdiction of Guadeloupe, and it was finally accomplished in 2007. The island of Saint Barthélemy became an Overseas Collectivity (COM). A governing territorial council was elected for its administration, which has provided the island with a certain degree of autonomy. The Hotel de Ville, which was the town hall, is now the Hotel de la Collectivité. A senator represents the island in Paris. St. Barthélemy has retained its free port status. Saint Barthélemy ceased being an outermost region and left the EU, to become an OCT, on 1 January 2012.

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