Flag of Clipperton Island

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Colonized by France in 1635, the island has subsequently remained a French possession except for three brief periods of foreign occupation.


Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago

Geographic coordinates:

14 40 N, 61 00 W


total: 1,100 sq km
water: 40 sq km
land: 1,060 sq km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; moderated by trade winds; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average; average temperature 17.3 degrees C; humid


mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Montagne Pelee 1,397 m

Natural resources:

coastal scenery and beaches, cultivable land

Land use:

arable land: 10.38%
permanent crops: 9.43%
other: 80.19% (2001)

Irrigated land:

30 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

hurricanes, flooding, and volcanic activity (an average of one major natural disaster every five years)

Geography - note:

the island is dominated by Mount Pelee, which on 8 May 1902 erupted and completely destroyed the city of Saint Pierre, killing 30,000 inhabitants


429,510 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

African and African-white-Indian mixture 90%, white 5%, East Indian, Chinese less than 5%


Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 10.5%, Muslim 0.5%, Hindu 0.5%, other 3.5% (1997)


French, Creole patois

Dependency status:

overseas department of France



Legal system:

French legal system

Flag description:

a light blue background is divided into four quadrants by a white cross; in the center of each rectangle is a white snake; the flag of France is used for official occasions

Economy - overview:

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.

GDP - per capita:

purchasing power parity - $14,400 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6%
industry: 11%
services: 83% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.9% (1990)

Labor force:

165,900 (1998)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 10%, industry 17%, services 73% (1997)

Unemployment rate:

27.2% (1998)


revenues: $900 million
expenditures: $2.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $140 million (1996)

Agriculture - products:

pineapples, avocados, bananas, flowers, vegetables, sugarcane


construction, rum, cement, oil refining, sugar, tourism

Exports - commodities:

refined petroleum products, bananas, rum, pineapples (2001 est.)

Exports - partners:

France 45%, Guadeloupe 28% (2000)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum products, crude oil, foodstuffs, construction materials, vehicles, clothing and other consumer goods

Imports - partners:

France 62%, Venezuela 6%, Germany 4%, Italy 4%, US 3% (2000)


euro (EUR)

Telephones - main lines in use:

172,000 est (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

319,900 (2002)


total: 2,105 km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km (2000)

Ports and harbors:

Fort-de-France, La Trinite

Merchant marine:



2 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of France

Illicit drugs:

transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for the US and Europe