Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia i/seɪnt ˈluːʃə/ (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. Two Nobel laureates, Arthur Lewis, an economist, and Derek Walcott, a poet and playwright, have come from the island. It is the nation with the second most such honorees per capita after the Faroe Islands.

One of the Windward Islands, it was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, the first European colonizers. They signed a treaty with the native Carib people 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".

Saint Lucia has a legal system based on British common law. The judiciary is independent and conducts generally fair public trials. The financial sector has weathered the global financial crisis, but the recession has hurt tourism.

Representative government came about in 1924 (with universal suffrage from 1953). From 1958 to 1962, the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. On February 22, 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations associated with the United Kingdom. The island nation celebrates this every year with a public holiday. It is also a member of la Francophonie.

History

Europeans first landed on the island in either 1492 or 1502 during Spain's early exploration of the Caribbean. In 1643 a French expedition under the direction of Jacques du Parquet, the Governor of Martinique, established the first permanent European settlement on the island. The Governor De Rousselan signed a treaty with the local Carib people in 1660. 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. After the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and the France-Spanish coalition ended in French defeat, the Treaty of Paris (10 February 1763) confirmed an exchange of colonial territories by the signatories.

When the British acquired the island, planters were trying to use the Carib as labourers. The British imported enslaved Africans as workers. Many Carib had died because of lack of immunity to Eurasian diseases, such as smallpox and measles. Others died from overwork and maltreatment by the Europeans.

Caribbean conditions were harsh, and many African slaves died as well, requiring continued importation of new captives. The British continued to import slaves until they abolished the trade in 1808. By that time, people of ethnic African and (less so) Carib descent greatly outnumbered those of ethnic European background.

Saint Lucia continued to be contested by France and Great Britain until the British secured it in 1814, following its war with the United States. Saint Lucia was considered part of the British Windward Islands colony.

In the mid-twentieth century, it joined the West Indies Federation (1958–62) 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. Compton, of the conservative United Workers party (UWP), served as prime minister from 1982 to 1996, after which he was succeeded by Vaughn Lewis.

Kenny 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 ministrokes, Finance and External Affairs Minister Stephenson King became acting prime minister. He succeeded as prime minister after Compton died in September 2007. In November of 2011, the honorable Kenny Anthony was re-elected as prime minister.

Politics

Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth realm; Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State of Saint Lucia, represented on the island by a Governor-General. Executive power, however, 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 November 28, 2011 General Election. Dr Kenny Davis Anthony of the St Lucia Labour Party won eleven of the seventeen seats.

Saint Lucia is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and La Francophonie.

Quarters

Saint Lucia has 11 quarters, or parishes of the island, under the French colonial government which was continued by the British: No. 1 Anse-la-Raye Quarter 31.0 km², No. 2 Castries Quarter 79.5 km², No. 3 Choiseul Quarter 31.3 km², No. 4 and 6 Gros Islet Quarter 101.5 km², No. 5 Dennery Quarter 69.7 km², No. 7 Laborie Quarter 37.8 km², No. 9 Micoud Quarter 77.7 km², No. 10 Soufrière Quarter 50.5 km², No. 11 Vieux Fort Quarter 43.8 km², No. ??? between 1 and 10 Canaries Quarter 15.9 km², No. ??? between 1 and 5 Forest Reserve Area Quarter 78.3 km²

Saint Lucia has 17 electoral segments for the 17 seats in the House of Assembly (each with title "Parliamentary Representative"):

Geography

The volcanic island of Saint Lucia is more mountainous than many other Caribbean islands, with the highest point being Mount Gimie, at 950 metres (3,120 ft) 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.

The capital city of Saint Lucia is Castries (Population 60,263), where 32.4 % of the population lives. Major towns include Gros Islet, Soufrière and Vieux Fort. The local climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds, with a dry season from December 1 to May 31, and a wet season from June 1 to November 30.

Economy

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 U.S., 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.

The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, which is the island's main source of revenue. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the government is trying to revitalize 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 Eastern 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 privatization of the state banana company.

Demographics

Rank Quarter Population
1 Castries 60,263
2 Gros Islet 22,647
3 Vieux Fort 14,632
4 Micoud 14,480
5 Dennery 11,874
6 Soufrière 7,747
7 Laborie 6,507
8 Anse la Raye 6,033
9 Choiseul 5,766
10 Canaries 1,915
Source:

The population of 174,000(in 2010) is evenly divided between urban and rural areas, although the capital, Castries, contains more than one-third of the population. 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 ethnicity groups, account for about 2% of the population.

The official language is English; however Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl), which is a French-based Creole colloquially referred to as "Patwah" (Patois), is spoken by 95% of the population. This Antillean Creole is used in literature and music, and is gaining official acknowledgement. It is derived chiefly from French and West African languages, with some vocabulary from Carib and other sources. Saint Lucia is a member of La Francophonie.

About 70% of the population is Roman Catholic, influenced from the days of French Catholic rule and evangelization. Most of the rest belong to other Christian denominations, including Seventh-day Adventisms (7%), Pentecostalism (6%), Anglicanism (2%), Evangelical Christianity (2%), and the Baptist faith; 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. There is one public hospital and one private hospital in St Lucia. There was a second, but it was burnt down in a fire in the early hours of September 9, 2009.

Saint Lucia boasts the 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 Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. Both were born on the same day in 1915 and 1930, respectively: January 23.

Despite a high emigration rate, the population is growing rapidly, 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 expatriates is the United States, where combined (foreign and national born Saint Lucians) almost 14,000 reside. Canada is home to a few thousand Saint Lucians. Most other countries in the world have fewer than 50 citizens of Saint Lucian origin (the exceptions being Spain and France with 124 and 117 Saint Lucian expats respectively).

Culture

The culture of Saint Lucia has been influenced by African, East Indian, French and English heritage. One of the secondary languages is an Creole, a form of French patois.

Festivals

Saint Lucian cultural festivals include La Rose and La Marguerite, the first representing the Rosicrucian order, and the second representing Freemasonry. This can be seen on a mural painted by Dunstan St Omer, depicting the holy trinity of Osiris, Horus and Isis.

The biggest festival of the year is the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival. Held in early May at multiple venues throughout the island, it draws visitors and musicians from around the world.

Traditionally in common with other Caribbean countries, Saint Lucia held a carnival before Lent. In 1999, the government moved Carnival to mid-July to avoid competing with the much larger Trinidad and Tobago carnival and so as to attract more overseas visitors.

In May 2009, Saint Lucians commemorated the 150th Anniversary of West Indian Heritage on the island.

Music and dance

A popular folk dance is the Quadrille.

Together with Caribbean music genres such as Calypso, Soca, Dancehall, Reggae, Compas, Zouk and Salsa, Saint Lucia has a strong indigenous folk music tradition. Each May since 1991, Saint Lucia has hosted an internationally renowned Jazz Festival.

The dancing in Saint Lucia comes from the Caribbean and is quite active.

Education

The Education Act provides for free and compulsory education in Saint Lucia from the ages of 5 to 15. Public spending on education was at 5.8 % among the 2002–2005 GDP. Saint Lucia has one university; University of the West Indies Open Campus, and a few medical schools – International American University − College of Medicine, Destiny University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the oldest of which is Spartan Health Sciences University. The leading secondary school for boys is St. Mary's College which taught both Sir Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott and for girls St. Joseph's Convent, alma mater of Dame Pearlette Louisy, their Governor General.

LGBT rights

Male homosexual acts are illegal in Saint Lucia, punishable by imprisonment.

Tourism

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.

The majority of tourists visit Saint Lucia as part of a cruise. Most of their time tends to be spent in Castries, although Soufriere, Marigot Bay and Gros Islet are popular locations to visit.

 

Gallery

  • Gros Piton seen from the Ladera Hotel restaurant – September 2007

  • Petit Piton seen from the Ladera Hotel restaurant – December 2004

  • Soufrière Bay – February 2006

  • Hilltop view of resort – June 2006

  • Typical sight in Canaries: houses on hills, June 2006

  • St Lucia beach – February 2006

  • View from the Le Sport
      resort – March 2006

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