One of the Windward Islands, Saint Lucia was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, the island’s first European settlers.
History of Saint Lucia
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 years later, 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 but it was the English who attempted the next European settlement in 1639, but that too was wiped out by the Caribs.
In 1643, a French expedition sent out from Martinique by Jacques Dyel du Parquet, the governor of 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 1712, 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, but handed the island back to the French at the Treaty of Paris on 10 February 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, a revolutionary tribunal was sent to Saint Lucia, headed by captain La Crosse. Prior to this, the slaves had heard about the revolution and walked off their jobs in 1790-1791 to work for themselves. Bringing the ideas of the revolution to Saint Lucia, La Crosse set up a guillotine used to execute Royalists. In 1794, the French governor of the island 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. For the next four months, a group of recently freed slaves known as the Brigands forced out not only the British army, but every white slave-owner from the island (coloured slave owners were left alone, as in Haiti). In 1796 Castries was burned as part of the conflict. In 1803, the British finally 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 colored, when they abolished the slave trade in 1807. 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.
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. Saint Lucia was considered part of the British Windward Islands colony.
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.
Main article: Politics of Saint Lucia
See also: Foreign relations of Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth realm; Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, 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.
Stamp with portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953
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.
Saint Lucia is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and La Francophonie.
Saint Lucia has 17 electoral segments, each of which elects one Parliamentary Representative to the House of Assembly:
Canaries & Anse-la-Raye, Babonneau, Castries Central, Castries North, Castries North East, Castries South,Castries South East, Choiseul, Dennery North, Dennery South, Gros Islet, Laborie, Micoud North, Micoud South, Soufriere
Vieux Fort North, Vieux Fort South
Gros Islet, Castries, Dauphin Dennery, Anse la Raye, Praslin, Micoud, Vieux, Fort Laborie, Choiseul Soufrière
Main article: Quarters of Saint Lucia
The quarters or parishes of the island, established by the French colonial government and continued by the British, are:
Anse la Raye, 31.0 km², Castries, 79.5 km², Choiseul, 31.3 km², DauphinDennery, 69.7 km², Gros Islet, Laborie, 37.8 km²
Micoud, 77.7 km², Praslin, 16.0 km², Soufrière, 50.5 km², Vieux Fort, 43.8 km²
Additional areas are Canaries (15.9 km²) and the Forest Reserve Area Quarter (78.3 km²).
Main article: Geography of Saint Lucia
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 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.
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 1 December to 31 May, and a wet season from 1 June to 30 November.
Main article: Economy of Saint Lucia
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.
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 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.
Main article: Tourism in Saint Lucia
Gros Islet and Rodney Bay as seen from Pigeon Island
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.
Demographics of Saint Lucia
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
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. Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl), which is colloquially referred to as “Patwa” (Patois), 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, influenced from the days of French Catholic colonisation and evangelisation. Most of the rest belong to other Christian denominations, including Seventh-day Adventism (7%), Pentecostalism (6%), Anglicanism (2%), and other types of Evangelical Christianity (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.
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 the poet Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. Both were born on the same day, 23 January, in 1915 and 1930, respectively.
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 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. 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 immigrants, respectively).
Main article: Culture of Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia Jazz Festival in Castries.
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 Lucian cultural festivals include La Rose and La Marguerite, the first representing a native Saint Lucian fraternal society known as the Order of the Rose that is fashioned in the mould of Rosicrucianism, and the second representing its traditional rival, the native Saint Lucian equivalent of Freemasonry known as the Order of the Marguerite. References to their origins as versions of pre-existing external secret societies can be seen in 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. The grand finale is held at the Pigeon Island which is located to the North of the Island.
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.
Further information: Sport in Saint Lucia
Cricket is a popular sport in the country. Seen here is the Beausejour Cricket Stadium which hosts international cricket matches for the West Indies
Darren Sammy is the famous West Indian cricketer
The Windward Islands cricket team includes players from Saint Lucia and plays in the West Indies regional tournament. Darren Sammy became the first Saint Lucian to represent the West Indies on his debut in 2007, and since 2010 has captained the side. In an international career spanning 2003 to 2008, and including 41 ODIs and one Test, Nadine George MBE became the first woman to score a Test century for the team. Sammy and George were recognised by the Saint Lucian government as Sportsman of the Year and Sportswoman of the Year respectively for 2004.
Music and dance
Further information: Music of Saint Lucia
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. In 2013, the festival was rebranded The Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival which encompassed culture, visual art, alternative music, education, fashion and food.
The dancing in Saint Lucia comes from the Caribbean and is quite active. A popular folk dance is the Kwadril.
Education in Saint Lucia
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 – American International Medical University, 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.
Saint Lucian cuisine
St Lucia’s national dish is green figs and saltfish.
The island’s cuisine is a unique blend of West African, European (mainly British and French) and East Indian cuisine; this creates dynamic meal dishes such as Macaroni pie, Stew chicken, rice and peas, hearty fish broths or fish water, hearty soups packed full with fresh locally produced vegetables. Typical essential food stuff are potatoes, onions, celery, thyme, coconut milk, the very hot scotch bonnet peppers, flour and cornmeal. All mainstream meat and poultry are eaten in St Lucia; meat and seafood are normally stewed and browned to create a rich gravy sometimes served over ground provisions or rice.
Due to St Lucia’s Indo-Caribbean population curry is very popular, however due to the blend of cooking styles, curry dishes have a distinct Caribbean twist. Roti is typically served as a fast food meal, the bread itself is very flat (sometimes very thin) and is wrapped around curried vegetables such as chickpeas and potato, seafoods such as shrimp and conch, or meats such as chicken, beef, goat and liver.