The original inhabitants of French Guiana were Native Americans. The French came to the area in the 17th century. They had a difficult time surviving due to tropical diseases. For a short period of time (1809 -1813) the Portuguese took over the area, but soon the French regained control through the Treaty of Paris. France used the now infamous Devil's Island, an island off the coast of French Guiana, as a penal colony for criminals. France sent almost 56,000 prisoners to the island, few of which survived. In 1964 the construction of a space-travel base was started in French Guiana. Today the Guiana Space Center is an important part of the European space industry. The principal languages spoken are French (official); Guianese Creole French; several indigenous languages, including Wayampi, Carib, and Emerillon; and the various languages of the immigrant communities.