Devils Island


Devils Island
French Île du Diable

Rocky islet off the Atlantic coast of French Guiana.

The smallest of the three Îles du Salut, it is a narrow strip of land 3,900 ft (1,200 m) long and 1,320 ft (400 m) wide. Part of a penal settlement since 1852, it housed the convicts' leper colony until the islands were made a maximum-security area. It shared the notoriety for cruelty of the mainland French Guiana penal colony. Spies and political prisoners, including Alfred Dreyfus, were held there. The island's use as a penal colony was phased out by the early 1950s.

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French  Île Du Diable,  
 rocky islet off the Atlantic coast of French Guiana. The smallest of the three Îles du Salut, about 10 miles (16 km) from the mainland and the Kourou River mouth, it is a narrow strip of land about 3,900 feet (1,200 m) long and 1,320 feet (400 m) broad, mostly covered by palm trees.

      Part of a penal settlement, the island housed the convicts' leper colony until the Îles du Salut were made a maximum-security area. The island's most famous prisoner was Alfred Dreyfus (Dreyfus, Alfred), a French army officer unjustly condemned for treason, who arrived on April 13, 1895; he was released on June 5, 1899, having written a journal and more than 1,000 letters in captivity. Dreyfus was succeeded by other political prisoners and, during World War I, by spies and deserters, chiefly from tropical countries and not of French birth. Transportation of prisoners to French penal colonies was abolished by a decree of June 17, 1938, although the last prisoners did not leave Devils Island until 1953.

      The island was later promoted as a winter resort and has a growing tourist trade.

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Universalium. 2010.

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