Saint George (Ligurian: San Zorzo) is an island in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea and an overseas territory of the Republic of Genoa.
French Colony (1674-1755)
The island was originally claimed by the French. It was officially made a French colony in 1674 (then known as Sainte-Lucie) as a dependency of Martinique (now part of the Antilles Federation). In 1753, as part of the Great Silesian War, Britain had occupied the island for a year. In the resulting Treaty of Vienna (1755), the island was awarded to Austria, who then in turn awarded the island to the merchant republic of Genoa in 1757. This was done under the suggestion of an Austrian minister, because of two primary reasons:
- To align Genoa with Austria (as Genoa had been increasingly influenced by the Ottomans), and
- To strengthen ties and project their influence over the states in the Italian peninsula.
French rule over the island effectively ended in 1757.
Genoese Colony and Overseas Territory (1755-present)
Genoese merchants had first set foot in the island in 1758. The name Sainte-Lucie was officially changed to Saint George (San Zorzo). During the 1760s, the Genoese began to develop the land for the cultivation of sugar cane as a commodity crop on large plantations. The sugar plantations in Saint George returned great profits and helped launch Genoa to be a significant economic power in Europe and the West Indies in the 1700s. The profit made in Saint George also helped the Genoese fund their other early colonial projects in the West Indies. One such project directly linked to Saint George Island's economic success was the extension and improvement of fortifications in the Genoese port in Panamá Viejo (now part of Genoese Panama), which was often attacked by pirates and indigenous people from Darién.The sugar colony would be profitable and Genoese rule was uninterrupted during the various revolutions in Europe. In the 20th century, Saint George's status was elevated to a Genoese Overseas Territory.