🇫🇷 🇬🇫 The penal colony of Cayenne (French: Bagne de Cayenne), commonly known as Devil's Island (Île du Diable), was a famous French prison that operated in the 19th and 20th century at several locations in French Guiana. Opened in 1852, it was notorious for being used for the internal exile of French political prisoners. The prison system was also known for its harsh treatment of detainees, who were deported there from all parts of the French Empire. It stretched over the South American mainland and in the off-shore Îles du Salut group, being Île du Diable for political prisoners.
By the early 19th century, the French urban population had increased to several millions with an increasing crime rate. France had repeatedly failed since 1604 to colonize French Guiana. The last attempt at colonization was in 1763, and 75% of the 12,000 colonists that had been sent there died in their 1° year. Sanitary systems were limited and the region was mosquito-infested, with endemic tropical diseases. The vast majority of the 80,000 prisoners sent to the Devil's Island prison system never made it back to France. Many died due to disease and harsh conditions. The only exit from the island prisons was by water, and few convicts escaped. In 1953, one by one the prisons were closed. The Devil's Island facility was the last to be closed.
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