Saint-Pierre, Martinique

Saint-Pierre, Martinique

French commune


mapcaption=Location of the commune (in red) within Martinique
canton=Saint-Pierre (chief town)
maire=Raphaël Martine
alt mini=0
alt maxi=1,397 m

Saint-Pierre was the former primary city of France's Caribbean "département d'outre-mer" of Martinique, founded in 1635 by Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc. It was never the capital except in an economic sense. Perhaps the visit by the then governor of Martinique to St. Pierre to assess the situation and his subsequent death in the pyroclastic blast that destroyed the city have led some to assume that the city was the capital. Though rebuilt after the eruption, the city never regained its earlier prominence or population.

It was destroyed on May 8, 1902 when the volcano Mount Pelée erupted, killing over 30,000 people, which was the entire population of the town, as well as people from neighboring villages who had taken refuge in the supposedly safe city, save (according to incorrect publicity) one man - a prisoner by the name of Louis-Auguste Sylbaris - who survived and later toured the world with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Legend (erroneously) has it that the town's doom was forecast by loud groaning noises from within the volcano, but the mayor of the town had it blocked off to prevent people from leaving during an election. This story appears to have originated with one of the island's newspapers which was published by a political opponent of the governor, and has no basis in fact. Actually, there was considerable eruptive activity in the two weeks prior to the fatal blast, but since the phenomenon of the "nuée ardente" (i.e., pyroclastic flow) was not yet understood, the danger was perceived to be from lava flows which it was believed would be stopped by two valleys between the volcano and the city. Larger details of the eruption and results may be read in the Mount Pelée entry.

At the time and currently the capital of Martinique is Fort-de-France.


As of the census of 1999, the population was formatnum:4453.
2004 estimated population was formatnum:4544.

ee also

*Communes of the Martinique department


* [ INSEE] en icon

External links

* [ Mérimée database - Cultural heritage] fr icon

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