There was never any hope of lucrative sugar plantations in St.Barths. It was too dry, too steep, too rocky, and, finally, too small. Unsuitable for agriculture, the island was never coveted as a prize during the colonial wars of the 18th century. The place had a serviceable harbor, and this allowed the town that grew around it, Gustavia, to play a key role in that intermittent conflict, a role that was to presage much of its future. Overflowing warehouses surrounded a harbor packed with ships from many nations, and a mercantile and architectural tradition was established that has lingered to the present day. Today, Gustavia has adjusted itself to satisfy the increasing number of visiting tourists. Restaurants, boutiques, and gift shops now line streets once busy with merchants, merchant seamen, and adventurers.

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