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It has a land area of 20.64 km² (7,97 sq. miles) and a population of 1,595 in 2006 (down from 1,682 in 1974), with a population density of 77 inh. per km² (200 inh. per sq. mile) in 2006. Most residents live in the settlement of Beauséjour.
The island is located about 8 km off the coast of Grande-Terre, the eastern half of the island of Guadeloupe. Its coordinates are 16°19′N 61°3′W. La Désirade is 11 km long and 2 km wide; the interior of the island forms a central plateau.