About St. Lucia

Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser797px-Saint_Lucia_on_the_globe_(Americas_centered).svg Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 617 km2 (238.23 sq mi) and has a population of 174,000 (2010). Its capital is Castries.

The French were the island's first European settlers. They signed a treaty with the native Carib Indians in 1660. England took control of the island from 1663 to 1667. In ensuing years, it was at war with France 14 times, and rule of the island changed frequently (it was seven times each ruled by the French and British). In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island. Because it switched so often between British and French control, Saint Lucia was also known as the "Helen of the West Indies".

St. Lucia Coat of Arms

St. Lucia Coat of Arms

Representative government came about in 1840 (with universal suffrage from 1953). From 1958 to 1962, the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. On 22 February 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations associated with the United Kingdom. Saint Lucia is a mixed jurisdiction, meaning that it has a legal system based in part on both the civil law and English common law. The Civil Code of St. Lucia of 1867 was based on the Quebec Civil Code of 1866, as supplemented by English common law-style legislation. It is also a member of La Francophonie.

The island nation celebrates its independence every year with a public holiday.


Geography

Saint Lucia is one of many small land masses composing the insular group known as the Windward Islands. Unlike large limestone areas such as Florida, Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula, or the Bahamas, which is a small island group composed of coral and sand, St. Lucia is a typical Windward Island formation of volcanic rock that came into existence long after much of the region had already been formed.

St. Lucia's physical features are notable. Dominated by high peaks and rain forests in the interior, the 616-square-kilometer Saint_Lucia_geography_map_en(238-square-mile) island is known for the twin peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton on the southwestern coast, its soft sandy beaches, and its magnificent natural harbors. Mount Gimie, the highest peak, is located in the central mountain range and rises to 958 meters (3,143 ft) above sea level, a contrast that is also evident in the abrupt climatic transition from coastal to inland areas. The steep terrain also accentuates the many rivers that flow from central St. Lucia to the Caribbean. Fertile land holdings, which support banana farming, are scattered throughout the island.

St. Lucia has a tropical, humid climate moderated by northeast trade winds that allow for pleasant year-round conditions. Mean annual temperatures range from 26 °C (78.8 °F) to 32 °C (89.6 °F) at sea level and drop to an average of 13 °C (55.4 °F) in the mountain peaks. The abundant annual rainfall accumulates to approximately 2,000 millimeters (78.7 in), with most precipitation occurring during the June to December wet season. Hurricanes are the most severe climatic disturbance in this area and have been known to cause extensive damage. Although St. Lucia has historically been spared from serious hurricane destruction, Hurricane Allen decimated the agricultural sector and claimed nine lives in 1980. More recently, in 2010, Hurricane Tomas claimed seven lives and also caused extensive agricultural damage, particularly to the island's burgeoning cocoa crop.

Saint Lucia is one of many small land masses composing the insular group known as the Windward Islands. Unlike large limestone areas such as Florida, Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula, or the Bahamas, which is a small island group composed of coral and sand, St. Lucia is a typical Windward Island formation of volcanic rock that came into existence long after much of the region had already been formed.

St. Lucia's physical features are notable. Dominated by high peaks and rain forests in the interior, the 616-square-kilometer (238-square-mile) island is known for the twin peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton on the southwestern coast, its soft sandy beaches, and its magnificent natural harbors. Mount Gimie, the highest peak, is located in the central mountain range and rises to 958 meters (3,143 ft) above sea level, a contrast that is also evident in the abrupt climatic transition from coastal to inland areas. The steep terrain also accentuates the many rivers that flow from central St. Lucia to the Caribbean. Fertile land holdings, which support banana farming, are scattered throughout the island.

St. Lucia has a tropical, humid climate moderated by northeast trade winds that allow for pleasant year-round conditions. Mean annual temperatures range from 26 °C (78.8 °F) to 32 °C (89.6 °F) at sea level and drop to an average of 13 °C (55.4 °F) in the mountain peaks. The abundant annual rainfall accumulates to approximately 2,000 millimeters (78.7 in), with most precipitation occurring during the June to December wet season. Hurricanes are the most severe climatic disturbance in this area and have been known to cause extensive damage. Although St. Lucia has historically been spared from serious hurricane destruction, Hurricane Allen decimated the agricultural sector and claimed nine lives in 1980. More recently, in 2010, Hurricane Tomas claimed seven lives and also caused extensive agricultural damage, particularly to the island's burgeoning cocoa crop.

Saint Lucia is one of many small land masses composing the insular group known as the Windward Islands. Unlike large limestone areas such as Florida, Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula, or the Bahamas, which is a small island group composed of coral and sand, St. Lucia is a typical Windward Island formation of volcanic rock that came into existence long after much of the region had already been formed.

St. Lucia's physical features are notable. Dominated by high peaks and rain forests in the interior, the 616-square-kilometer (238-square-mile) island is known for the twin peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton on the southwestern coast, its soft sandy beaches, and its magnificent natural harbors. Mount Gimie, the highest peak, is located in the central mountain range and rises to 958 meters (3,143 ft) above sea level, a contrast that is also evident in the abrupt climatic transition from coastal to inland areas. The steep terrain also accentuates the many rivers that flow from central St. Lucia to the Caribbean. Fertile land holdings, which support banana farming, are scattered throughout the island.

St. Lucia has a tropical, humid climate moderated by northeast trade winds that allow for pleasant year-round conditions. Mean annual temperatures range from 26 °C (78.8 °F) to 32 °C (89.6 °F) at sea level and drop to an average of 13 °C (55.4 °F) in the mountain peaks. The abundant annual rainfall accumulates to approximately 2,000 millimeters (78.7 in), with most precipitation occurring during the June to December wet season. Hurricanes are the most severe climatic disturbance in this area and have been known to cause extensive damage. Although St. Lucia has historically been spared from serious hurricane destruction, Hurricane Allen decimated the agricultural sector and claimed nine lives in 1980. More recently, in 2010, Hurricane Tomas claimed seven lives and also caused extensive agricultural damage, particularly to the island's burgeoning cocoa crop.

Saint Lucia is one of many small land masses composing the insular group known as the Windward Islands. Unlike large limestone areas such as Florida, Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula, or the Bahamas, which is a small island group composed of coral and sand, St. Lucia is a typical Windward Island formation of volcanic rock that came into existence long after much of the region had already been formed.

St. Lucia's physical features are notable. Dominated by high peaks and rain forests in the interior, the 616-square-kilometer (238-square-mile) island is known for the twin peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton on the southwestern coast, its soft sandy beaches, and its magnificent natural harbors. Mount Gimie, the highest peak, is located in the central mountain range and rises to 958 meters (3,143 ft) above sea level, a contrast that is also evident in the abrupt climatic transition from coastal to inland areas. The steep terrain also accentuates the many rivers that flow from central St. Lucia to the Caribbean. Fertile land holdings, which support banana farming, are scattered throughout the island.

St. Lucia has a tropical, humid climate moderated by northeast trade winds that allow for pleasant year-round conditions. Mean annual temperatures range from 26 °C (78.8 °F) to 32 °C (89.6 °F) at sea level and drop to an average of 13 °C (55.4 °F) in the mountain peaks. The abundant annual rainfall accumulates to approximately 2,000 millimeters (78.7 in), with most precipitation occurring during the June to December wet season. Hurricanes are the most severe climatic disturbance in this area and have been known to cause extensive damage. Although St. Lucia has historically been spared from serious hurricane destruction, Hurricane Allen decimated the agricultural sector and claimed nine lives in 1980. More recently, in 2010, Hurricane Tomas claimed seven lives and also caused extensive agricultural damage, particularly to the island's burgeoning cocoa crop.

Climate

Saint Lucia is in the tropical zone, although its climate is moderated by northeast trade winds. Since it is fairly close to the equator, the temperature does not fluctuate much between winter and summer. The dry season is from December to June, and the rainy season is from June to November. Average daytime temperatures are around
29 °C (84.2 °F), and average nighttime temperatures are around 18 °C (64.4 °F). Average annual rainfall ranges from 1,300 mm (51.2 in) on the coast to 3,810 mm (150 in) in the mountain rainforests.

Government

Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth realm. Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, represented on the island by a Governor-General.

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony

Executive power is in the hands of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The prime minister is normally the head of the party commanding the support of the majority of the members of the House of Assembly, which has 17 seats. The other chamber of Parliament, the Senate, has 11 appointed members.

Saint Lucia is a two-party parliamentary democracy. Five political parties participated in the 28 November 2011 General Election. Dr Kenny Anthony of the St Lucia Labour Party won eleven of the seventeen seats.

Foreign Relations

Saint Lucia maintains friendly relations with the major powers active in the Caribbean, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. Saint Lucia has no extant international disputes, aside from tension resulting from the island's status as a transit point for South American drugs destined for the United States and Europe.

Saint Lucia's Permanent Representative (or ambassador) to the United Nations is Anthony Severin.

St. Lucia participated in the American-led invasion of Grenada in 1983, sending members of its Special Services Unit into active duty. It was subsequently one of eight countries to cast a vote against a United Nations General Assembly motion condemning the invasion.

As a member of CARICOM, St. Lucia strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to restore democracy to Haiti. St. Lucia agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force which restored the democratically elected government of Haiti in October 1994.

St. Lucia participated along with 14 other Caribbean nations in a summit with US President Bill Clinton in Bridgetown, Barbados, in May 1997. The summit was the first-ever meeting in the region between the U.S. and Caribbean heads of government, and strengthen the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counternarcotics, finance and development, and trade issues.

Economy

An educated workforce and improvements in roads, communications, water supply, sewerage, and port facilities have attracted800px-St._Lucia_Export_Treemap foreign investment in tourism and in petroleum storage and transshipment. However, with the US, Canada, and Europe in recession, tourism declined by double digits in early 2009. The recent change in the European Union import preference regime and the increased competition from Latin American bananas have made economic diversification increasingly important in Saint Lucia.

Saint Lucia has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, which is Saint Lucia's main source of revenue. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the government is trying to revitalise the banana industry. Despite negative growth in 2011, economic fundamentals remain solid, and GDP growth should recover in the future.

Inflation has been relatively low, averaging 5.5 percent between 2006 and 2008. Saint Lucia's currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCL) issues the EC$, manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in member countries. In 2003, the government began a comprehensive restructuring of the economy, including elimination of price controls and privatisation of the state banana company.

Tourism

Saint Lucia, an island in the Caribbean islands, has a relatively large and lucrative tourism industry, attracting an estimated 350,000 visitors per year. Due to the relatively small land area of the country, most of the governmental promoting is performed by the state operated Saint Lucia Tourism Board.

A panorama of Marigot Bay

A panorama of Marigot Bay

Most tourists are attracted to the relatively unspoiled landscape and beaches, as with many other Caribbean islands.

700px-At_the_top_of_Pigeon_Island

Gros Islet and Rodney Bay as seen from Pigeon Island

Tourism to Saint Lucia is so vital, that it is the runner-up for the position of the most economically important industry, behind bananas. It is expected that tourism will take the place of the most economically important industry in Saint Lucia in the near future, as the market for bananas becomes more competitive among the Caribbean islands. Saint Lucia tends to be popular due to its tropical weather and scenery and for its large number of beaches and resorts. Crime is becoming increasingly prevalent in St. Lucia and this could threaten the development of the tourist industry.

Other Attractions

Although cruises and beaches are what draws most tourists to Saint Lucia, other attractions include:

• The Pitons, two volcanic plugs rising more than 700 m directly from the sea that form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• Sulfur Springs - Located in Soufrière, it is the world's only drive-in volcano.

• St. Lucia Botanical Gardens - This botanical garden has a wide variety of plant species, and a sulfur waterfall.

• Our Planet Centre - The first Our Planet Centre in the world has just opened in La Place Carenage, Castries.

• Many other tours, activities and excursions can be done on the island such as Ziplining, Snorkeling, Hiking & Deep Sea Fishing.

A view of Soufrière.

A view of Soufrière.