island in the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, and a dependency of Guadeloupe, an overseas departement of France. It lies some 15 miles (25 km) southeast of the island of Grande-Terre. Marie-Galante is of coral and limestone structure and is round in shape, measuring some 10 miles (16 km) across; it experiences occasional droughts. The chief town is Grand-Bourg. The island was encountered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, who named it for one of his ships. It was first settled by the French and, after frequent changes of ownership between them and the British, remained French from 1816. Sugarcane is the main crop. Area 61 square miles (158 square km). Pop. (1999) 12,488.
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