Population: 161,557 (July 2011 estimate)
Area: 238 square miles (616 sq km)
Coastline: 98 miles (158 km)
Highest Point: Mount Gimie at 3,116 feet (950 m)
Saint Lucia is an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea. The island is along the Caribbean's margin with the Atlantic Ocean and it is also a part of the Lesser Antilles. Saint Lucia is closest to the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Martinique. The capital and largest city of Saint Lucia is Castries and the country has a population of 161,557 people (July 2011 estimate).
History of Saint Lucia
The first known people to inhabit the island of Saint Lucia were the Arawaks around 200-400 C.E. They were later replaced by the Caribs in the period from 800 to 1000 C.E. The first Europeans did not arrive on the island until 1492 or 1502 when the Spanish began exploring the Caribbean (U.S. Department of State). Beginning in the late 17th century the Dutch, English and French established several trading outposts on the islands and by the 18th century both the English and French were interested in controlling the island. In 1815, France ceded the island to Britain and in 1838 it became a part of the British Windward Islands Administration.
By the early 20th century Saint Lucia began to gain more powers of self-governance. In 1924 a constitution was drafted giving the island a representative government and in 1958 it joined the West Indies Federation. In 1962 Jamaica withdrew from the federation and it collapsed. As a result, the remaining islands, Saint Lucia included, became what were known as the associated states of the United Kingdom.
From 1967 to 1979 Saint Lucia was an associated state of the United Kingdom and during this time it was responsible for its own internal government functions, but external affairs like defense fell under the authority of the United Kingdom (U.S. Department of State). On February 22, 1979, Saint Lucia gained full independence but remained a member of the British Commonwealth.
Government of Saint Lucia
Today the government of Saint Lucia is a parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm. Its executive branch of government consists of a chief of state (Queen Elizabeth II) and a head of government (the prime minister). Saint Lucia also has a legislative branch that is made up of a bicameral Parliament with a Senate and a House Assembly. The judicial branch consists of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and Saint Lucia is a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Saint Lucia is divided into 11 quarters for local administration.
Economics and Land Use in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia has a relatively strong economy that is mainly tied to foreign business and investment. It has strong tourism and offshore banking industries and recently the construction sector has grown as a result of tourism. Other industries in Saint Lucia include clothing, electronic component assembly, beverages, corrugated cardboard box manufacturing and lime and coconut processing (CIA World Factbook). Agriculture also plays a role in Saint Lucia's economy and the main products are bananas, coconuts, vegetables, citrus, root crops and cocoa (CIA World Factbook).
Geography and Climate of Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean just north of Trinidad and Tobago (map). The topography of the island is very mountainous as it is a volcanic island. In addition, the island has some broad, fertile valleys where most of Saint Lucia's agriculture takes place. The highest point in Saint Lucia is Mount Gimie at 3,116 feet (950 m) but the Pitons Mountains are its most famous landmark. The Pitons are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of two volcanic peaks, Gros Piton at 2,529 feet (771 m) and Petit Piton at 2,437 feet (743 m).
The climate of Saint Lucia is tropical but it is moderated by the northeast trade winds. In addition it has a dry season that lasts from January to April and a rainy season that lasts from May to August.
To learn more about Saint Lucia, visit the Geography and Maps section on Saint Lucia on this website.
Central Intelligence Agency. (16 August 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Saint Lucia. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/st.html
Infoplease.com. (n.d.). St. Lucia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107931.html
United States Department of State. (12 August 2011). Saint Lucia. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2344.htm
Wikipedia.org. (22 August 2011). Saint Lucia - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucia