The culture of St Barths is informed primarily by its French colonial heritage; the French settled the island in 1763 (it was originally discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493). The island remains an overseas collectivity of France, though residents are as likely to identify with Carib, South American, and African identities as European. St Barths is the only Caribbean island that was under Swedish rule at any time in history; remnants, mostly in the form of colonial architecture and symbols on the St Barths coat of arms, can still be found, though the island is largely French in cuisine, culture, and language. Handicrafts such as woven textiles and braids (made from palm fronds), crafted by indigenous people, are popular, and subsistence fishing is still practiced by small populations, while tourism is the main driver of the island's economy.
St Barths is a world-renowned yachting paradise and features a calendar packed with big ocean races and nautical events. There's plenty, though, to keep landlubbers occupied for a good long while, too. The New Year's Eve Regatta, St Barth Cata Cup Regatta (mid-November), Tour of St Barth (May 1), Transat AG2R (April–May), and the Fete du Quartier de Public (August 15) are just some of the nautical events the island hosts annually. The Taste of St Barth (early November), Festival de Musique de Saint Barthélemy (January), and the St Barth Film Festival have each gained international attention in recent years.