I had booked a tour of the Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands), an infamous prison colony of France. We took a large catamaran to the islands. The catamaran used the motor to get to the islands, but sailed back. It was a nice excursion.

The Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands) were used by France as a prison colony for their worst prisoners. The first prisoners were sent there in 1852 by Napoleon III. The first prison was in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, the second was on the Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands). There were four main prisons in French Guiana, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, Cayenne, Îles du Salut, and Saint-Jean-du-Maroni.

The fortifications on the Îles du Salut date back to King Louis XV. The prisoners on Île Royale (Royal Island) were relatively free to move about the island. There were about 230 prisoners on Île Royale. The church was the first stone building on Île Royale, built in 1852. The multi-story hospital was built 1862-1864. The lighthouse dates from 1934. The island got electricity in 1934. Île Royale held 230 prisoners. The discipline building had 32 light cells and 34 dark cells (cells without windows).

The prison on Île Saint-Joseph date back to 1898 with 120 cells. It held the worst prisoners in solitary confinement cells.

Transportation of prisoners to French Guiana ended in 1938. There was no traffic at all during World War II. The prison on the Îles du Salut was closed in 1948. The last prison in French Guiana, Saint-Jean-du-Maroni was closed in 1953.

There were a total of more than 80,000 prisoners in these facilities. Many of them died because of diseases like malaria and other tropical diseases. Prisoners were required to stay in French Guiana after completion of sentence for a time equal to their forced labor time. If the original sentence exceeded eight years, they were forced to stay as residents for the remainder of their lives and were provided land to settle on.

n 1965, the French government transferred the responsibility for most of the islands to its newly founded Guiana Space Center. The islands are under the trajectory of the space rockets launched from the Center eastward, toward the sea (to geostationary orbit). They must be evacuated during each launch. The islands host a variety of measurement apparatus for space launches.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands)

View îles Du Salut
View of the Îles du Salut with Île Royale (Royal Island) on the left and Île Saint-Joseph (St. Joseph Island) on the right. Île du Diable (Devil's Island) is behind the other two. (558k)
Catamaran Took îles Du
The catamaran that took us to the Îles du Salut. (574k)
Catamaran Way îles Du
Another catamaran on the way to the Îles du Salut. (554k)
île Royale
Île Royale. (659k)
île Saint-joseph
Île Saint-Joseph. (591k)
île Saint-joseph
Île Saint-Joseph. (1002k)
île Du Diable
Île du Diable. (738k)

Îles du Diable

Hut île Du Diable
The hut on Île du Diable (Devil's Island) in which Alfred Dreyfus spent 1895-1899 as the sole occupant of Devil's Island. (851k)

Île Royale

Buildings île Royale
Buildings on Île Royale. (1.6M)
Moat île Royale
The moat on Île Royale. (896k)
House Commandant Prison île
House of the commandant of the prison on Île Royale. (1141k)
Hospital île Royale
Hospital on Île Royale. (1264k)
Church île Royale First
Church on Île Royale. This was the first stone building on the island, built in 1852. (875k)
Interior Church
Interior of the church. (825k)
Homes Married Prison Guards
Homes of the married prison guards on Île Royale. (826k)
Lighthouse île Royale
Lighthouse on Île Royale. (731k)
Remnants Light Cells Discipline
Remnants of light cells in the discipline building on Île Royale. (1051k)
Remnants Prison Buildings île
Remnants of prison buildings on Île Royale. (1408k)
Communal Prison Cell
Communal prison cell. (770k)
Solitary Dark Confinement Cell
Solitary dark confinement cell in the discipline building. (606k)
Washing Facilities
Washing facilities. (1050k)
Latrine. (1119k)
Children's Cemetery
Children's cemetery. (1437k)

Île Saint-Joseph

Prison Buildings île Saint-joseph
Prison buildings on Île Saint-Joseph. (1164k)
Overgrown Prison Building île
Overgrown prison building on Île Saint-Joseph. (1183k)
Row Solitary Confinement Cells
Row of solitary confinement cells. (1029k)
Cell Tree Growing Corner
Cell with tree growing in the corner. (975k)
Roots Tree Grow Along
The roots of this tree grow along the corridor. (1250k)
Tree Filled Door Grew
This tree filled the door and grew into the corridor. (1161k)
Cemetery île Saint-joseph
Cemetery on Île Saint-Joseph. (942k)

This page contains 30 pictures

French Guiana
Main page for Guyane Française (French Guiana)

Page last updated on Tue Sep 24 18:19:03 2019 (Mountain Standard Time)

Page last updated on Sat Jun 3 08:54:19 2023 (Mountain Standard Time)

Îles du Salut in Guyane Française (French Guiana) on aerobaticsweb.org

© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
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