Probably first settled by Basques, the islands were colonized by France in 1604. They were taken by the British (1713) but returned to France in 1763; twice retaken by the British, they were restored to France in 1814, with the provision that they be unfortified. They were granted local autonomy in 1935, became an overseas department in 1976, and reclassified as a territorial collectivity in 1985 to comply with European Community (now European Union) trade regulations.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.