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The first inhabitants of St. Lucia were the peaceful Arawaks who came into the region from South America between 200-400AD. By 800 AD, the Caribs came into the region and seized control of the island. They had a complex society with their own leaders and they were often feared by Europeans for being ferocious in battles.
In 1550, French pirate Francoise le Clerc built a camp on Pigeon Island and this was the point from which he attacked Spanish ships that were passing by.
It wasn't until 1635 when the French officially claimed the island as their territory but a formal settlement was never established. It was the British who attempted to create an establishment in 1639, but they were wiped out by the Caribs.
In 1643, Frenchman Jacques Dyel du Parquet built a permanent settlement and appointed De Rousselan as governor, who later married a Carib and remained in position till his death in 1654.
Britain claimed the island for Britain in 1664 but the French regained control in 1666. By 1674, the island became an official French colony, lasting until the 18th century.
In 1803, Britain regained control and in 1833, incorporated the island into the British Windward Islands. It wasn't until 1979 that St. Lucia gained full independence but still recognizing the head of the British monarchy as head of state. St. Lucia today is a sovereign state and member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
St. Lucia is located in the east of the Caribbean Sea and is a part of the Lesser Antilles - a group of volcanic islands in the Caribbean. It is found in the northeast of Saint Vincent, south of Martinique, and northwest of Barbados.
The island is the most mountainous of all of the Caribbean Islands, and its highest point is Mt. Gimie, which has an elevation of 3,120 feet above sea level.
St. Lucia is a parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy. Its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II with the island's Governor-General as the monarchy's representative. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The Prime Minister is the head of the party that comprises the majority of the 17-seat House of Assembly. The other chamber of Parliament is the Senate with 17 seats.
Tourism is a major contributor to St. Lucia's economy, with over 350,000 annual international tourists. The exportation of bananas is the country's #1 source of national income but tourism is projected to take over its spot as more Caribbean countries are also competing in the banana industry.
Tourists are attracted to St. Lucia's unspoiled natural beauty and rich culture.
The most popular tourist attraction in the island are the Pitons - 2 mountainous volcanic plugs that represents St. Lucia's beauty. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and famous for the marine life surrounding the volcanoes, as well as the Sulfur Springs located nearby. The Springs are popular for their mud baths with water that naturally heats to around 45 degree Celsius. The springs are known to contain a large number of minerals that are famous for their supposed medicinal properties.
St. Lucia, like all the other Caribbean islands, are filled with beautiful beaches. Among the most popular are the Marigot Bay and the Rodney Bay. The former is found on the western coast and came into international prominence when it was used as the setting of an episode of Doctor Doolittle in the 1960's. Three sides of the bay are surrounded by steep hillsides and its marina is packed with yachts and sailboats. Rodney Bay is popular for being home to a tourist village. Resorts and hotels are found along the shore, as well as cafes and restaurants, and the area also has a thriving nightlife scene.
Public schools for primary level children are free and compulsory in St. Lucia for ages 5-15. Public spending on education is at 5.8% of the national budget and the island has 1 public university, which is the University of the West Indies Open Campus. A number of medical schools are also available for higher education.
The state's adult literacy rate is at 90.1% as of 2014, with 89.5% for males and 90.6% for women.
- Banana is St. Lucia's #1 export product.
- St. Lucia has 2 Nobel Prize winners - Arthur Lewis for economics and Derek Walcott for literature. According to the Guinness World of Book Records, St. Lucia has the highest number of Nobel Laureates per population.
- St. Lucia is the smallest country in the world to hold a presidency in the UN with Julian Hunte being president of the 58th session from 2003-2004.
Area: Figures provided by Karem Abdalla.
Last Updated : January 02, 2015
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