Saint Lucia (i/ /; French: Sainte-Lucie) is a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser 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".
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.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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The French pirate François le Clerc (also known as Jambe de Bois, due to his wooden leg) frequently visited Saint Lucia in the 1550s. It was not until around 1600 that the first European camp was started by the Dutch at what is now Vieux Fort. In 1605 an English vessel called the Olive Branch was blown off-course on its way to Guyana, and the 67 colonists started a settlement on Saint Lucia. After five weeks only 19 survived due to disease and conflict with the Caribs, so they fled the island. The French officially claimed the island in 1635. The English attempted the next European settlement in 1639, and that too was wiped out by Caribs.
In 1643 a French expedition sent out from Martinique established a permanent settlement on the island. De Rousselan was appointed the island's governor, took a Carib wife and remained in post until his death in 1654.
In 1664, Thomas Warner (son of Sir Thomas Warner, the governor of St. Kitts) claimed Saint Lucia for England. He brought 1,000 men to defend it from the French, but after two years, only 89 survived with the rest dying mostly due to disease. In 1666 the French West India Company resumed control of the island, which in 1674 was made an official French crown colony as a dependency of Martinique.
18th and 19th century
Both the British and the French found the island attractive after the sugar industry developed, and during the 18th century the island changed ownership or was declared neutral territory a dozen times, although the French settlements remained and the island was a de facto French colony well into the eighteenth century.
In 1722, George I of Great Britain granted both Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent to John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu. He in turn appointed Nathaniel Uring, a merchant sea captain and adventurer, as deputy-governor. Uring went to the islands with a group of seven ships, and established settlement at Petit Carenage. Unable to get enough support from British warships, he and the new colonists were quickly run off by the French.
During the Seven Years' War Britain occupied Saint Lucia for a year. Britain handed the island back to the French at the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Like the English and Dutch on other islands, the French began to develop the land for the cultivation of sugar cane as a commodity crop on large plantations in 1765.
When the French Revolution occurred, and the slaves had heard about the revolution, they walked off their jobs in 1790-1791 to work for themselves. In 1792 a revolutionary tribunal was sent to Saint Lucia, headed by Captain Jean-Baptiste Raymond de Lacrosse. Bringing the ideas of the revolution to Saint Lucia, Lacrosse set up a guillotine used to execute Royalists. In 1794 the French governor of the island Nicolas Xavier de Ricard declared that all slaves were free, as also happened In Saint-Domingue. However, the decree was unevenly carried out.
A short time later the British invaded the island as a part of the recently broken out war with France. On 21 February 1795 a group of locals led by Victor Hugues defeated a battalion of British troops. In 1796 Castries was burned as part of the conflict. In 1803 the British regained control of the island. Many of the rebels escaped into the thick rain forests where they evaded capture and established maroon communities.
The slavery on the island was continued for a short time, but anti-slavery sentiment was rising in Britain. The British stopped the import of slaves by anyone, white or coloured, when they abolished the slave trade in 1807.
Saint Lucia continued to be contested by France and Great Britain until the British secured it in 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris ending the Napoleonic Wars. Thereafter Saint Lucia was considered part of the British Windward Islands colony.
In 1836 the institution of slavery was abolished on the island and throughout the British Empire. After abolition, all former slaves had to serve a four-year "apprenticeship," to accustom them to the idea of freedom. During this period, they worked for their former masters for at least three-quarters of the work week. Full freedom was duly granted by the British in 1838. By that time, people of African ethnicity greatly outnumbered those of ethnic European background. Some people of Carib descent also comprised a minority on the island.
In the mid-twentieth century, Saint Lucia joined the West Indies Federation (1958–1962) when the colony was dissolved. In 1967, Saint Lucia became one of the six members of the West Indies Associated States, with internal self-government. In 1979 it gained full independence under Sir John Compton of the conservative United Workers party (UWP), who served as prime minister from 1982 to 1996, after which he was succeeded by Vaughan Lewis.
Dr. Kenny Davis Anthony of the Labour Party was prime minister from 1997 to 2006. In 2006, the UWP, again led by Compton, won control of parliament. In May 2007, after Compton suffered a series of small strokes, Finance and External Affairs Minister Stephenson King became acting prime minister and succeeded Compton as prime minister when the latter died in September 2007. In November 2011, the Honorable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony was re-elected as prime minister for a third time. In the June 2016 elections the UWP assumed power again, under Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
The volcanic island of Saint Lucia is more mountainous than most Caribbean islands, with the highest point being Mount Gimie, at 950 metres (3,120 feet) above sea level. Two other mountains, the Pitons, form the island's most famous landmark. They are located between Soufrière and Choiseul on the western side of the island. Saint Lucia is also one of the few islands in the world that boasts a drive-in volcano.
Average daytime temperatures are around 29 °C (84.2 °F), and average nighttime temperatures are around 18 °C (64.4 °F). Since it is fairly close to the equator, the temperature does not fluctuate much between winter and summer. Average annual rainfall ranges from 1,300 mm (51.2 in) on the coast to 3,810 mm (150 in) in the mountain rainforests.
Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth realm. Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, represented on the island by a Governor-General. 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. Three political parties participated in the 6 June 2016 General Election. Allen Chastanet of the United Workers Party won eleven of the seventeen seats.
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. Saint Lucia is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and La Francophonie. Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth Realm.
The districts of the island, established by the French colonial government and continued by the British, are:
An additional area is the Forest Reserve Area Quarter (78.3 km²).
An educated workforce and improvements in roads, communications, water supply, sewerage, and port facilities have attracted 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 is vital to Saint Lucia's economy. Its economic importance is expected to continue to increase as the market for bananas becomes more competitive. Tourism tends to be more substantial during the dry season (January to April). Saint Lucia tends to be popular due to its tropical weather and scenery and its numerous beaches and resorts.
Other tourist attractions include a drive-in volcano, Sulphur Springs (in Soufrière), the Botanical Gardens, the Majestic twin Peaks "The Pitons", a world heritage site, the rain forests, and Pigeon Island National Park, which is home to Fort Rodney, an old British military base.
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The population of 174,000 (in 2010) is evenly divided between urban and rural areas. The capital, Castries, contains more than one-third of the population.
Despite a high emigration rate the population is growing rapidly at about 1.2% per year. Migration from Saint Lucia is primarily to Anglophone countries, with the United Kingdom having almost 10,000 Saint Lucian-born citizens, and over 30,000 of Saint Lucian heritage. The second most popular destination for Saint Lucian émigrés is the United States, where a combined (foreign and national-born Saint Lucians) almost 14,000 reside. Canada is home to a few thousand Saint Lucians.
Saint Lucia's population is predominantly of African and mixed African-European descent, with a small Indo-Caribbean minority (3%). Members of other or unspecified ethnic groups, account for about 2% of the population.
The official language is English. Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl), which is colloquially referred to as Patois ("Patwa"), is spoken by 95% of the population. This Antillean Creole is used in literature and music, and is gaining official acknowledgement. As it developed during the early period of French colonisation, the creole is derived chiefly from French and West African languages, with some vocabulary from the Island Carib language and other sources. Saint Lucia is a member of La Francophonie.
About 70% of the population is Roman Catholic, a legacy of French colonization of the island. The remaining 30% belongs to other Christian denominations, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church (7%), Pentecostals (6%), Anglicans (2%), other Evangelicals (2%); in addition, about 2% of the population adheres to the Rastafari movement.
Public expenditure on health was at 3.3% of the GDP in 2004, whereas private expenditure was at 1.8%. Health expenditure was at US$302 (PPP) per capita in 2004. Infant mortality was at 12 per 100,000 births in 2005.
The culture of Saint Lucia has been influenced by African, East Indian, French and English heritage. One of the secondary languages is Saint Lucian Creole French, spoken by almost all of the population.
Saint Lucia boasts the second highest ratio of Nobel laureates produced with respect to the total population of any sovereign country in the world. Two winners have come from Saint Lucia: Sir Arthur Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979, and the poet Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.