Saint Lucia Overview

Saint Lucia Overview

State of Central America (617 km²). Capital: Castries. Population: 171,000 (2008 estimate). Language: English (official), Creole-French. Religion: Catholics 67.5%, Protestants 22%, non-religious / atheists 4.5%, others 6%. Currency unit: East Caribbean dollar (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.821 (66th place). Borders: Atlantic ocean. Member of: Commonwealth, OAS, UN and WTO, EU associate.

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY

Initially inhabited by the Arawaks, the island was conquered in the first millennium AD by the Caribs and only in the eighteenth century occupied and claimed by the French and the British. The current residents, mostly of African origin and mestizos, usually live in small coastal towns; the population density is 277 residents / km². The most important centers are the capital Castries, located on the northwestern coast of the island, whose urban agglomeration welcomes over two thirds of the country’s population, Laborie and Vieux Fort, both facing the southern coast.

ENVIRONMENT

The tropical forest still covers more than a quarter of the territory but deforestation has caused serious damage as well as soil erosion, especially in the northern areas. Protected areas cover 2.4% of the island and are divided into natural, marine and forest reserves and a national park. In 2004 UNESCO declared the Pitons Volcanic Area a World Heritage Site, located near the town of Soufrière where the two picturesque volcanic cones and the surrounding marine area are located, in which eight species of rare plants have been identified.; the fauna, on the other hand, is made up of reptiles, amphibians, various mammals and birds, of which five are endemic species. Visit barblejewelry.com for St Lucia as a tourist country.

ECONOMY

The economy of Saint Lucia has long been linked to the production and export of bananas; only in the last two decades of the twentieth century, also due to increased international competition, did we try to achieve greater diversification; the services, tourism and construction sectors have thus established themselves. The country’s GDP recorded in 2008 was equal to US $ 1,025 million, the per capita GDP amounted to US $ 6,033. § The economic system is essentially based on agriculture (which contributes just over 4% to the GDP), which produces mainly bananas, sweet potatoes (batate), citrus fruits, coconuts and cocoa. Fishing is also an important source of income, and its products, mainly lobsters and shrimps, are exported to international markets; livestock farming is practiced to a lesser extent (cattle, pigs, poultry, etc.). Despite the sustained efforts, however, food self-sufficiency has not yet been achieved; serious damage is moreover caused with a certain frequency to the agricultural sector by the violent hurricanes affecting the area. § The industry is expanding, which includes food complexes (breweries, oil mills, etc.), chemicals (with the production of plastics, fertilizers, etc.), clothing, as well as assembly plants for electronic components. Energy production benefited from activation of a geothermal plant in Soufrière. § Active is above all the tourism attracted by the natural beauties of one of the last almost intact areas of the Caribs. The growing influx of foreigners has positively influenced financial activities, thanks also to the tax concessions approved to attract foreign investments. Road communications are good with 910 km of roads; the island can count on numerous scheduled maritime services (the main airports are Castries, Cul-de-Sac and Vieux-Fort) and on the air connections of various companies (there are two international airports in Hewanorra and Vigie, near Castries). Despite the strong emigration currents, unemployment continues to be quite relevant. Saint Lucia exports bananas for over a third, then clothing, cocoa, vegetables, fruit and coconut oil, and imports food, manufactured goods, machinery and transportation, chemicals and fuels. Main export partners are France, USA and Great Britain, for imports USA, Trinidad and Tobago, France, but also Italy, Venezuela, Great Britain and the Netherlands. The trade balance is still in deficit. The country, member of the CARICOM, proves to be one of the most convinced supporters of the need for closer economic and political integration between the Caribbean states.

HISTORY

The island was discovered around 1500 and after some attempts at colonization by the English, in 1650 it was occupied by the French. It then passed definitively to the British in 1803 and in 1967 became a state associated with the United Kingdom. After independence (February 22, 1979), the Labor Party was in government until the 1982 elections, which instead gave the absolute majority to the conservatives, who thus confirmed their position throughout the decade and the early 1990s. Following the elections of 23 May 1997, the Labor Party returned to the leadership of the country, securing 16 of the 17 deputies of the National Assembly. Labor leader Kenny Anthony has been Prime Minister since May 26, 1997, succeeding conservative Vaughan Lewis, a member of the United Workers’ Party. In the 2006 legislative elections, the United Workers Party won with 11 seats. Sir John Compton was appointed prime minister, while in 2011 Kenny Davis Anthony became prime minister.

CULTURE

Long disputed between the English and the French, Saint Lucia has cultural traits linked more to the influence of the latter. Obviously, the contribution of blacks, transferred here from Africa as slaves, with their baggage of religious beliefs, musical habits, culinary customs, etc. should not be overlooked. In the villages of the island, today, it is possible to experience the most traditional ways of life and participate in spectacular folklore events, such as the Carnival, which takes place in July and is one of the busiest in the Caribbean. The St. Lucia Jazz Festival is also of international importance, as are the historic and colonial buildings of the capital Castries and the fortress of Pigeon Island. Markets on the island abound with spices and local handicrafts made of wood and straw.

Saint Lucia Overview