St Barts is administered by the sub-prefect in Saint-Martin and is a dependency of Guadeloupe. The island has its own elected mayor, who holds office for seven years. Much the same as Saint-Martin, St Barts relies on its free port status and its anchorages and beaches for the bulk of its revenue. It is popular with both French and North American visitors and, despite the limitations of its airstrip, it is claimed that twice as many tourists as the island’s population pass through each month.
Norman dialect is still widely spoken while many islanders also speak English, but French is the dominant language. A few elderly women still wear traditional costumes (with their characteristic starched white bonnets called kichnottes); they cultivate sweet potato patches and weave palm fronds into hats and purses which they sell in the village of Corossol. The men traditionally smuggled rum among neighbouring islands and now import liqueurs and perfumes, raise cattle, and fish for lobsters offshore.