Saint Barthelemy, more commonly known as St. Barts, is an island located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, which along with St. Martin, Guadeloupe and Martinique, comprise the French West Indies.
The island owns a rich history and association with a number of different countries. St. Barts was considered to be a French commune before becoming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas department of the nation of France. In 2003, however, the people of St. Barts voted to secede from Guadeloupe. This maneuver gained the island status as a French overseas collectivity.
Since St. Barts is technically part of France, it’s official flag is the French blue, white and red tricolore. However, St. Barts does fly an established Coat of Arms. The insignia depicts a shield, which is divided into three sections. The top is a blue background decorated by three golden fleur-de-lis. The middle section of the shield displays a red background centered by a Maltese Cross. The bottom portion renders another blue backdrop covered by three golden crowns. Hovering over the shield is a an image of a fortress, which is surrounded by two large, white pelicans. Below the shield is the word Ouanalao, an Arawak word the Arawaks (St. Barts indigenous people) first named the island.
The St. Barts Coat Of Arms honors the island’s history and celebrates the several nations who laid claim to it at one time. The three fleur-de-lis illustrates its past and current ties to France. The island was initially claimed by France in 1648. However, in 1784, the French presented St. Barts to the northern European nation of Sweden in exchange for trading rights in the Swedish City of Gothenburg. St. Barts celebrates its ties to Sweden with the Tri Kronor (Triple Crown) symbol on the bottom of its Coat Of Arms in recognition of the three golden crowns of Sweden, which is one of that nation’s national symbols. The middle section’s decoration with a Maltese Cross pays tribute to the period between 1651 and 1665 when St. Barts was ruled by the Knights Hospitaller regime, also known as The Knights of St. John and/or The Knights of Malta. The St. Barts Coat Of Arms was officially established on February 15, 1794.