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The largest French West Indian island,
encompasses a massive 1704 square kilometres, the majority of which is taken up by its two adjoining mainland islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, whose outline resembles a greenbacked butterfly in flight. Its two "wings" have entirely different personas and equally misrepresentative names: the western
, or "low-land", is anything but, given its central core is dominated by mountain ranges, including the Lesser Antilles' highest peak,
. These surround the island's bountiful
and descend to meet twinkling black-sand beaches like
that extend to protected underwater
sites abounding with aqualife.
The eastern "wing", the furled
, or "large-land", is slightly smaller than Basse-Terre, utterly flat by contrast, and predominantly rural. Most of the action happens along its southern coast, where one white-sand beach after another seems to merge endlessly along the coast, with the stunning
forming the centrepiece. Its outer reaches are pounded by the savage
to produce jagged limestone outcroppings like the windswept
, and the exquisite
Lagon de la Porte d'Enfer
natural swimming pool.
Guadeloupe's offshore islands are equally diverse.
, with its rural landscape of sugarcane, hearkens back to a Guadeloupe of thirty years ago, while
, the most desolate of the lot, is quite possibly the Caribbean's least developed island. The most visited-offshore isle, tiny
, is the prettiest of all, with quaint architecture and fabulous bays and beaches.
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