(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||The island, with its fine natural harbor at Castries, was contested between England and France throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814. Even after the abolition of slavery on its plantations in 1834, Saint Lucia remained an agricultural island, dedicated to producing tropical commodity crops. Self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979.|
Saint Lucia’s first known inhabitants were Arawaks, believed to have come from northern South America around 200-400 CE. Numerous
sites on the island have produced specimens of the Arawaks’ well-developed pottery. There is evidence to suggest that these first inhabitors called the island Iouanalao, which meant ‘Land of the Iguanas’, due to the island’s high number of iguanas.
Caribs gradually replaced Arawaks during the period from 800 to 1000 CE They called the island Hiwanarau, and later Hewanorra, which is now the name used for the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort. The Caribs had a complex society, with hereditary kings and shamans. Their war canoes could hold more than 100 men and were fast enough to catch a sailing ship. They were later feared by the Europeans because of stories of violence and cannibalism, but much of this was probably exaggeration on the part of the Europeans. The Caribs were usually generous until attacked or deceived (which are situations common to much of European colonial history).
Today called St. Lucia, much of the island’s population are unaware of the valued contribution to what we today call ‘freedom’. They Europeans called these freedon fighters the Brigands, who were of African and sometimes mixed African-Arawak heritage. Many Brigands still occupy the forests and surrounding areas where they still challenge injustice against them and their indigenous counterparts.
Europeans first landed on the island in either 1492 or 1502 during Spain’s early exploration of the Caribbean. The Dutch, English, and French all tried to establish trading outposts on St. Lucia in the 17th century but faced opposition from Caribs whose land they were occupying.
Although the French pirate Francois le Clerc (also known as Jamb de Bois, due to his wooden leg) frequented 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 but after five weeks only 19 of them remained 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 that started the next European settlement in 1639, which was wiped out by the Caribs. It was not until 1651 that the French came, this time from Martinique, commanded by De Rousselan, who held the island until his death in 1654.
In 1664, Thomas Warner (son of the governor of St Kitts) claimed Saint Lucia for England. He brought 1,000 men there to defend it from the French, but after two years there were only 89 left, mostly due to disease. For years after this, the island was official traded back and forth between the English and the French in various treaties, as a bargaining chip in negotiations.
The English, with their headquarters in Barbados, and the French, centered on Martinique, found St. Lucia attractive after the sugar industry developed in 1765. Colonists who came over were mostly indentured white servants serving a small percentage of wealthy merchants or nobles. Conflict with the Caribs increased as more and more land was taken.
Near the end of the century, the French Revolution occurred, and a revolutionary tribunal was sent to Saint Lucia, headed by captain La Crosse. Bringing the ideas of the revolution to Saint Lucia, he set up a guillotine that was used to execute Royalists. In 1794, the French governor of the island declared that all slaves were free, but only a short time later the British invaded again in response to the concerns of the wealthy plantation owners, and restored slavery after years of fighting. Castries was burned in 1796 as part of that battle between the British and the slaves and French republicans.
Britain eventually triumphed, with France permanently ceding Saint Lucia in 1814. The British abolished the African slave trade in 1807, three years after former slaves in Haiti had gained their independence as the first black republic in the Caribbean, but it was not until 1834 that slavery was actually abolished on Saint Lucia. Even after slavery was officially abolished, all former slaves had to serve a four-year “apprenticeship” which forced them to work for free for their former slavemasters for at least three-quarters of the work week, with final freedom in 1838.
Also in 1838, Saint Lucia was incorporated into the British Windward Islands administration, headquartered in Barbados. This lasted until 1885, when the capital was moved to Grenada.
20th century to present day
Increasing self-government has marked St. Lucia’s 20th century history. A 1924 constitution gave the island its first form of representative government, with a minority of elected members in the previously all-nominated legislative council. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1951, and elected members became a majority of the council. Ministerial government was introduced in 1956, and in 1958 St. Lucia joined the short-lived West Indies Federation, a semi-autonomous dependency of the United Kingdom. When the federation collapsed in 1962, following Jamaica’s withdrawal, a smaller federation was briefly attempted. After the second failure, the United Kingdom and the six windward and leeward islands–Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis and Anguilla, and St. Lucia–developed a novel form of cooperation called associated statehood.
As an associated state of the United Kingdom from 1967 to 1979, St. Lucia had full responsibility for internal self-government but left its external affairs and defense responsibilities to the United Kingdom. This interim arrangement ended on February 22, 1979, when St. Lucia achieved full independence. St. Lucia continues to recognize Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state and is an active member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The island continues to cooperate with its neighbors through the Caribbean community and common market (CARICOM), the East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
|Geography||Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 13 53 N, 60 58 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 616 sq km
land: 606 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area – comparative: 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 158 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season January to April, rainy season May to August
Terrain: volcanic and mountainous with some broad, fertile valleys
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Gimie 950 m
Natural resources: forests, sandy beaches, minerals (pumice), mineral springs, geothermal potential
Land use: arable land: 6.45%
permanent crops: 22.58%
other: 70.97% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.01
per capita: 81 cu m/yr (1997)
Natural hazards: hurricanes and volcanic activity
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion, particularly in the northern region
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the twin Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton), striking cone-shaped peaks south of Soufriere, are one of the scenic natural highlights of the Caribbean
|Foreign relations||Saint Lucia has no extant international disputes aside from tension resulting from the island’s status as a transit point for South American drugs destined for the United States and Europe.
Historically, the major thrust of foreign affairs for St. Lucia has been economic development. The government is seeking balanced international relations with emphasis on mutual economic cooperation and trade and investment. It seeks to conduct its foreign policy chiefly through its membership in the OECS. St. Lucia participated in the 1983 Grenada mission, sending members of its Special Services Unit into active duty. St. Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations. It seeks pragmatic solutions to major international issues and maintains friendly relations with the major powers active in the Caribbean, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. St. Lucia has been active in eastern Caribbean regional affairs through the OECS and CARICOM.
As a member of CARICOM, St. Lucia strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to restore democracy to Haiti. The country agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force, which restored the democratically elected government of Haiti in October 1994.
St. Lucia participated, along with 14 other Caribbean nations, in a summit with US President Bill Clinton in Bridgetown, Barbados, in May 1997. The summit, which was the first-ever meeting in the region between the U.S. and Caribbean heads of government, strengthened the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counternarcotics, finance and development, and trade issues.
St. Lucia had official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) for about 13 years, but switched recognition to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. On 25 April 2007, the Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Su Tseng-chang, announced that St. Lucia and Taiwan would resume formal diplomatic relations. On May 1, 2007, St. Lucia regained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan). Within a few days, the People’s Republic of China suspended diplomatic relations.
|People||Population: 159,585 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.2% (male 20,614/female 19,559)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 50,897/female 54,140)
65 years and over: 9% (male 6,481/female 7,894) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.2 years
male: 28.2 years
female: 30.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.436% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.4 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.25 years
male: 73.59 years
female: 79.05 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Saint Lucian(s)
adjective: Saint Lucian
Ethnic groups: black 82.5%, mixed 11.9%, East Indian 2.4%, other or unspecified 3.1% (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 67.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 8.5%, Pentecostal 5.7%, Rastafarian 2.1%, Anglican 2%, Evangelical 2%, other Christian 5.1%, other 1.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.5% (2001 census)
Languages: English (official), French patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 90.1%
female: 90.6% (2001 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 6.6% of GDP (2006