January 11, 2016

2206 FRANCE (French Guiana) - Îles du Salut

The Îles du Salut (Islands of Salvation), so called because the missionaries went there to escape plague on the mainland, are a group of small islands about 11 km off the coast of French Guiana in the Atlantic Ocean. Although closer to Kourou, they are part of Cayenne commune. Between 1852 and 1953 the islands were part of a notorious penal colony, for only the worst criminals of France. Nowadays the islands are a popular tourist destination.

The main part of the penal colony was a labor camp stretched along the border with Dutch Guiana, which today is Suriname. The three island which form Îles du Salut had distinct destinations. Île Royale, the largest and westernmost, was for the worst criminals of the penal colony to roam about in moderate freedom due to the difficulty of escape from the island. Île Saint-Joseph was for the worst of those criminals to be punished in solitary confinement in silence and for extra punishment in darkness.

Île du Diable (better known to English speakers as Devil's Island), the smallest, but also the most notorius, was for political prisoners. There was imprisoned Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the victim of one of the most tense political dramas in modern French history. The islands were featured in the novel Papillon, by Henri Charrière, who was imprisoned here for 9 years. Joseph Conrad's short story An Anarchist (1906) is also largely set in the Îles du Salut.

About the stamps
The stamp is one of the 12 which forms the series Women's day, issued on March 9, 2013.

Îles du Salut - Wikipedia

Sender: Chery
Sent from ??? (French Guiana / France), on 21.10.2014
Photo: Thierry Montford

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