There was such excitement expressed a few weeks ago over the announcement of the new PlanNet Caribbean markets and information, we thought we'd give you a look at the markets we are already in - Guadeloupe, U.S. Virgin Islands and Martinique in the Caribbean and Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa in the Western and Southern Pacific Ocean.

Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory, is an island group in the southern Caribbean Sea. Resembling a butterfly, its two largest islands are separated by the Salée River.They are often referred to as a single island. The city of Basse-Terre is the regional capital and the official language is French.

During his second trip to the Americas in November 1493, Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Guadeloupe, while seeking fresh water. Because Guadeloupe is a wealthy country in comparison to the surrounding Caribbean islands, immigration is popular. The economy of Guadeloupe depends on tourism, agriculture, light industry and services. 83.3% of tourists visit from metropolitan France, 10.8% coming from the rest of Europe, and 3.4% coming from the United States.  An increasingly large number of cruise ships visit the islands.

The traditional sugar cane crop is slowly being replaced by other crops, such as bananas (which now supply about 50% of export earnings), eggplant, yams, gourds, plantains, cocoa, jackfruit, pomegranate, and many varieties of flowers. The current population is 471,488.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, population 106,471, consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding minor islands. This U.S. territory is known for white sand beaches, reefs and verdant hills. St. Thomas island is home to the capital, Charlotte Amalie.

The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493.Tourism is the primary economic activity, although there is a significant rum manufacturing sector. The islands normally host 2 million visitors a year, many of whom visit on cruise ships. Additionally, the islands frequently are a starting point for private yacht charters to the neighboring British Virgin Islands.

Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Saint Thomas is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere as Sephardic Jews began to settle the island in the 18th century as traders and merchants. The St. Thomas Synagogue in Charlotte Amalie is the second oldest synagogue on American soil and oldest in terms of continuous usage.

Martinique, like Guadeloupe, is an overseas region of France with a population of 396,336. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia and southeast of Puerto Rico. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the Euro. The official language is French, and virtually the entire population also speak Antillean Creole. The inhabitants of Martinique are French citizens with full political and legal rights. 

Historically, Martinique's economy relied on agriculture, but by the beginning of the 21st century this sector had dwindled considerably. Sugar production has declined, with most of the sugarcane now used for the production of rum. Banana exports are increasing, going mostly to France. 

Tourism has become more important than agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange. Roughly 16% of the total businesses on the island (some 6,000 companies) provide tourist-related services. A leading destination for European vacationers, it offers gorgeous beaches, great food and a variety of accommodations - small, medium and resort.

The Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States, together with Guam to the south, compose the Mariana Islands archipelago. The southern islands are limestone, with level terraces and fringing coral reefs. The northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on several islands. The vast majority of the population of 53,535 resides on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The other islands of the Northern Marianas are sparsely inhabited. Saipan is considered to be the capital because the island is governed as a single municipality.

The Marianas and the Hawaiian Islands are the world's foremost consumers, per capita, of Spam, with Guam at the top of the list. Spam was introduced to the islands by the American military as war rations during the World War II era. Tourism is very important, offering crystal clear aqua waters, world class diving and golfing, international shopping, a wide range of ethnic restaurants and a wide variety of international and indigenous cultures that add their unique flavors to this destination. 

Guam, population 173,072, is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States, located in the western Pacific Ocean. Guamanians are American citizens by birth. It is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands, and the largest island in Micronesia. 

The Chamorros, Guam's indigenous people, settled the island approximately 4,000 years ago. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to visit the island on March 6, 1521. When Magellan arrived on Guam, he was greeted by hundreds of small outrigger canoes that appeared to be flying over the water, due to their considerable speed. 

A coral table reef surrounds most of Guam, and the limestone plateau provide the source for most of the island's fresh water. Steep coastal cliffs dominate the north, while the southern end of the island is mountainous, with lower hills in between. Guam's economy depends primarily on tourism, Department of Defense installations and locally owned businesses. 

Lying in the western Pacific, Guam is a popular destination for Japanese tourists. Its tourist hub, Tumon, features over 20 large hotels, a duty free shopping galleria, indoor aquarium, Las Vegas–style shows and other shopping and entertainment venues. It is a relatively short flight from Asia or Australia compared to Hawaii, with hotels and seven public golf courses accommodating over a million tourists per year.

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, located halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, and consists of five main islands and two coral atolls. The largest and most populous island is Tutuila. American Samoa is part of the entire Samoan island group called “Navigator Islands” by European explorers before the 20th century because of the Samoans’ seafaring skills.

With a population of 55,613, the total land area is slightly larger than Washington, D.C. American Samoa is the southernmost territory of the U.S. and one of two U.S. territories (with the uninhabited Jarvis Island) south of the Equator. Tuna products are the main exports, and the main trading partner is the United States. American Samoa is noted for having the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory. Most American Samoans are bilingual and can speak English and Samoan fluently.

American Samoa’s customs and culture are over 3,000 years old and have changed very little over this period. The most major western influence accepted into Samoan custom has been Christianity, which forms the spiritual basis of its society. Flourishing coral reefs and colorful marine life abound in the looming shadow of the famous Rainmaker Mountain.