FLAG: On a blue background is a yellow triangle surmounted by a black arrowhead whose outer edges are bordered in white.
ANTHEM: Sons and Daughters of St. Lucia.
MONETARY UNIT: The East Caribbean dollar (ec$) of 100 cents is the national currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 cents and 1 dollar, and notes of 5, 10, 20, and 100 East Caribbean dollars. ec$1 = us$0.37037 (or us$1 = ec$2.7) as of 2004.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system has been introduced, but imperial measures are still commonly employed.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Carnival, 8 – 9 February; Independence Day, 22 February; Labor Day, 1 May; Queen's Official Birthday, 5 June; Bank Holiday, 1st Monday in August; Thanksgiving Day, 1st Monday in October; St. Lucia Day, 13 December; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whitin monday, and Corpus Christi.
TIME: 8 am = noon GMT.
LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
The Caribbean island of St. Lucia, part of the Windward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles, is 43 km (27 mi) n – s by 23 km (14 mi) e – w and has a total area of 616 sq km (238 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by St. Lucia is slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC. Situated between Martinique to then and St. Vincent to the sw, St. Lucia has a total coastline of 158 km (98 mi). The Maria islands, located of the southeast coast of the main island, are kept as a natural reserve. The capital city, Castries, is located on St. Lucia's northwest coast.
St. Lucia is a volcanic island, the younger part of which is the mountainous southern half, and the older the hilly but more nearly level northern half. The highest mountain, Mt. Gimie, rises 950 m (3,117 ft) above sea level. Better known are the two peaks on the southern coast, Gros Piton (798 m/2,619 ft) and Petit Piton (750 m/2,461 ft), which together form one of the scenic highlights of the West Indies. The lowlands and valleys of the island have fertile soil and are irrigated by many streams. The island has beautiful beaches, some with black volcanic sand. The two major ports are located at Castries, in the northwest, and Vieux Fort, by Cape Moule à Chique at the southern tip of the island. Cap Point marks the northern tip of St. Lucia.
St. Lucia lies along the Caribbean Tectonic Plate, a location of moderate seismic activity. Volcanic activity is evident through the bubbling mud and gasses emitted from sulfur springs near the crater of Soufri è re.
The average yearly temperature on St. Lucia is 27 ° c (80 ° f); the warmest month is usually September, and the coolest January. The average rainfall at sea level is 231 cm (91 in) a year; on the mountain peaks, more than 380 cm (150 in). Like the rest of the West Indies, St. Lucia is vulnerable to hurricanes, which hit the Caribbean in the late summer months.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Tropical sunlight, heavy rainfall, and fertile soil combine to produce an abundance of tropical flora, including hibiscus, poinciana, frangipani, orchids, jasmine, and bougainvillea. The higher mountain slopes support a dense rain forest. Common tree species include palm, bamboo, breadfruit, mangoes, coconut, and paw-paw. There are no large mammals on St. Lucia. Bats are common and there are several species of small snakes. The central high-lands provide nesting places for many birds, including flycatchers, hummingbirds, pigeons, and about a hundred other species. The surrounding sea contains extensive coral reefs supporting lobster, turtle, and conch, as well as an abundance of fish.
Densely populated, St. Lucia has been shorn of much of its protective woodland by agricultural and commercial interests, except for limited areas in the south-central rain forest. The loss of forest cover contributes to the erosion of the soil, particularly in the drier, northern part of the island. The nation does not have the financial resources to develop an adequate water purification system and the population is at risk from contamination of the water supply by agricultural chemicals and sewage.
The Mankot é Mangrove and Savannes Bay have been designated as Ramsar wetland sites and the Pitons Management Area was designated as a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site (2004). Population pressure prevents the government from expanding the area of protected lands. Principal responsibility for the environment is vested in the Ministry of Agriculture's Lands, Fisheries, and Cooperatives Forestry Division and the National Trust Fund. Excessive use of herbicides and pesticides threaten the wildlife population in St. Lucia and the eastern Caribbean states in general.
According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 2 types of mammals, 5 species of birds, 6 types of reptiles, 10 species of fish, and 6 species of plants. Threatened species include the red cedar, American mahogany, the St. Lucia parrot, the great white shark, the St. Lucia racer, and St. Lucia white-breasted thrasher. The St. Lucia giant rice rat has become extinct.
The population of St. Lucia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 163,000, which placed it at number 174 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 7% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 30% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005 – 10 was expected to be 1.0%; the government viewed the fertility rate, at 2.8 births per woman, as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 209,000. The population density was 263 per sq km (681 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 30% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.23%. The capital city, Castries, had a population of 14,000 in that year.
Emigration has provided an escape valve for population pressure. Neighbors such as Trinidad, Guyana, and the French Caribbean islands have received the bulk of emigrants from St. Lucia, with lesser numbers going to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The number of migrants in 2000 was 8,000. In 2005, the net migration rate was -2.19 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.
It is estimated that 90% of the population are of African descent, being descendants of slaves brought into the country in the 17th and 18th centuries. About 6% are of a mixed origin and 3% are East Indian. Approximately 1% of the population is of European descent.
English is the official language of St. Lucia. However, only about 80% of the population speak it. Language outreach programs are seeking to integrate these people into the mainstream of society. Almost all the islanders also speak a French patois based on a mixture of African and French grammar and a vocabulary of mostly French with some English and Spanish words.
The vast majority of the population is Christian. About 67% of the residents are Roman Catholic, though only about 40% of all Catholics are active members. There is a substantial Protestant community comprised of Anglicans, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Methodists. There are small communities of Hindus, and Muslims, as well as small groups of Rastafarians and Baha'is. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The St. Lucia Christian Council, an interfaith group of Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants, has a close relationship with the government. Certain Christian holidays are recognized as national holidays.
St. Lucia, as of 2004, had two airports. Direct flights to New York, Miami, Toronto, London, and Frankfurt operate out of Hewanorra International Airport, on the southern tip of the island at VieuxFort. The smaller Vigie Airport, located near Castries, is used for flights to and from neighboring Caribbean islands. St. Lucia has two important ports: Castries, in the north, with a cargo-handling capacity of 365,000 tons per year; and Vieux Fort, at the southern tip of the island, from which ferries link St. Lucia with St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
All of the island's towns, villages, and main residential areas were linked by 1,210 km (752 mi) of all-purpose roads in 2002, of which 63 km (39 mi) were paved. Motor vehicles numbered 12,157 in 1995, including 11,399 passenger cars and 758 commercial vehicles.
Arawak and Carib Amerindians were the earliest known inhabitants of what is now St. Lucia. There is no hard evidence for the folklore that Columbus sighted St. Lucia on St. Lucy's Day in 1498, but in keeping with the tradition, 13 December is still celebrated as the date of the island's discovery.
The islands were not settled until the mid-17th century because the Caribs defended the islands successfully for years. The French settled the islands, but the natural harbor at Castries brought English interest. The island changed hands between the British and the French no fewer than 14 times, until in 1814, the British took permanent possession. In 1838, St. Lucia came under the administration of the Windward Islands government set up by Great Britain.
Unlike other islands in the area, sugar did not monopolize commerce on St. Lucia. Instead, it was one product among many others including tobacco, ginger, and cotton. Small farms rather than large plantations continued to dominate agricultural production into the 20th century. A total of 10,328 slaves were freed when slavery was abolished in 1834. To replace the slave labor, East Indian indentured workers were brought to the island during the late 1800s.
St. Lucia has a democratic tradition which began in 1924 when a few elected positions were added to the appointed legislative council. St. Lucia became an associated state with full internal self-government in 1967 and on 22 February 1979 became an independent member of the Commonwealth.
The first three years of independence were marked by political turmoil and civil strife, as leaders of rival political parties fought bitterly. In 1982, the conservative United Workers' Party (UWP) won 14 of 17 seats in the House of Assembly. Party leader and Prime Minister John Compton, who had been premier of the island since 1964, became prime minister at independence.
The UWP dominance was eroded in 1987, when the party won only nine seats. Prime Minister Compton called for new elections almost immediately, but received the same result. In 1992, the UWP increased its majority to 11 seats, as the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) won 6 seats. The SLP, which had been out of office for 15 years, won the April 1997 elections in a landslide, and its leader, Kenny Anthony, replaced Compton as prime minister.
St. Lucia suffered back-to-back tropical storms in 1994 and 1995 that caused losses of about 65% and 20% of each of those years' banana crops, respectively. In the late 1990s, the country's heavy reliance on bananas posed an additional economic threat as the United States challenged the preferential treatment accorded by several European nations to their former colonies in the Caribbean. In February 1999, a ruling by the World Trade Organization allowed the United States to impose trade penalties on Europe in response to these banana import policies. St. Lucia joined with its Caribbean neighbors in lobbying against the ruling.
In the December 2001 election, Anthony's SLP won with 54% of the vote, securing 14 of the 17 seats in the Assembly. The opposition UWP obtained 36.6% of the vote, but only captured three seats.
In 2002, Tropical Storm Lili destroyed about half of the banana crop; entire plantations were destroyed in some areas. St. Lucia is promoting the growth of mangos and avocados to lessen dependence upon the banana industry, but bananas still make up about one-third of export earnings.
In July 2003, parliament amended the constitution to replace the oath of allegiance to the British monarch with a pledge of loyalty to St. Lucians.
St. Lucia became independent in 1979. Under its constitution, the British monarch continues to be the titular head of government, appointing, upon recommendation of the local leaders, a governor-general to represent the crown. Executive power is effectively exercised by the prime minister and cabinet. There is a bicameral parliament consisting of a Senate with 11 members and a House of Assembly with 17 representatives. The House of Assembly has the important legislative functions. The Senate is an appointed body with little political power. Six of the members of the Senate are appointed on the advice of the prime minister, three are appointed on the advice of the opposition leader, and two are appointed after consultation with religious, economic, and social groups.
Members of the lower house are elected for a maximum period of five years. Suffrage on St. Lucia has been universal for those 18 and older since 1951, before St. Lucia achieved independence.
Under the constitution, the government could call for elections at any time. Under the current schedule, elections are held by secret ballot and at least every five years.
After sweeping the 1997 parliamentary elections by gaining 16 out of 17 seats, the left-of-center St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP), led by Kenny Anthony, became the majority party, ending 15 years of dominance by the United Workers' Party (UWP). The SLP regained control of the Assembly in the 2001 election, with more than 54% of the vote. Following the UWP's electoral defeat in 1997, its leader, Vaughan Lewis, resigned, and former leader and Prime Minister John Compton, resumed leadership of the party in its new
role of opposition party. As of 2005, the leader of the UWP was Dr. Morella Joseph. The UWP was the party in power at the time of independence, lost power in 1979, and regained it in 1982. It is by reputation the more conservative party. The next elections were scheduled for December 2006.
The National Alliance (NA), under the leadership of Jon Odlum, has no representation. It is an offshoot of the SLP. The St. Lucia Freedom Party (SFP) is led by Martinus Fran ç ois. Sou Tout Apwe Fete Fini (STAFF) is led by Christopher Hunte.
St. Lucia is divided into 11 administrative regions. Local governments are elected by popular vote.
The legal system is based on English common law and "Code Napoleon." The highest judicial body was the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Both common law and statute law govern St. Lucia. The lowest court is the district or magistrate's court, above which is the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. Seated in Castries, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (known as the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court upon its founding in 1967, and as the Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States from 1974 until 1979) has jurisdiction in St. Lucia, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It consists of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Prior to 2003, in exceptional cases, appeals were carried to the UK Privy Council. On 9 June 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Eight nations — Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago — officially approved the CCJ, although 14 nations were planning to use the court for appeals. Haiti had agreed to use the CCJ for resolution of trade disputes. The court was officially inaugurated in April 2005. As of 2005, however, the court's jurisdiction was limited to the CARICOM states of Barbados and Guyana. The CCJ heard its first case in August 2005.
The constitution guarantees a public trial before an independent and impartial court. Legal counsel is afforded to indigent defendants in cases involving capital punishment.
As of 2000 there were no armed forces other than those of the police force and coast guard. The Eastern Caribbean Regional Security System, formed in 1985, includes Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as St. Lucia, and provides for joint coast-guard operations, military exercises, and disaster contingency plans.
St. Lucia became a member of the United Nations on 12 September 1979; it is a member of ECLAC and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, the World Bank, ILO, IFC, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNCTAD, and the WHO. St. Lucia is a member of the WTO, the ACP Group, the Commonwealth of Nations, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, G-77, the OAS, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and OECS. St. Lucia is a member of the Nonaligned Movement, the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In environmental cooperation, the country is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montr é al Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.
As did many Caribbean producers, St. Lucia's agricultural products benefited from preferred access to European markets; the country was the leading producer of bananas in the Windward Islands group. The industry is now in a terminal decline, due to competition from lower-cost Latin American banana producers and reduced European Union trade preferences. The country is encouraging farmers to plant crops such as cocoa, mangos, and avocados to diversify its agricultural production and to provide jobs for displaced banana workers. Tourism, with direct flights from Europe and North America, has recently become an important economic activity. St. Lucia's manufacturing sector has grown steadily, with the construction of many light manufacturing and assembly plants that produce for local or export markets.
Though foreign investment in manufacturing and information processing in recent years has increased St. Lucia's industrial base, the economy remains vulnerable due to its heavy dependence on banana production, which is subject to periodic droughts and tropical storms. Indeed, the destructive effect of Tropical Storm Iris in mid-1995 caused the loss of 20% of the year's banana crop, and the agriculture sector recorded its sixth year of decline in 1998. In 2001, GDP growth at current prices was 2%, but in 2002 contracted 4% due to a combination of adverse factors: the global economic slowdown, declining export demand, and a sharp fall-off of tourism after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Inflation remained subdued at 2.3% for both years.
Tourism was booming in 2004, showing a solid recovery from recession that followed the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The latest estimates from the World Bank show that the annual growth rate recorded in 2004 was 3.6%, with agriculture accounting for 4.5% of GDP, manufacturing 5.4% of GDP, and tourism 48% of GDP (direct and indirect impact).
However, it is estimated that up to 40% of the banana crop was destroyed when Hurricane Ivan made its way through the Eastern Caribbean in September 2004. The economy is highly susceptible to external macroeconomic shocks, magnified by an undiversified production and export base and exacerbated by natural disasters that have a serious economic impact on banana and cocoa crops.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 St. Lucia's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $866.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $5,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.3%. The average inflation rate in 2001 was 3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 7% of GDP, industry 20%, and services 73%.
Approximately 40% of household consumption was spent on food, 11% on fuel, 4% on health care, and 17% on education.
In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), the labor force was estimated at 43,800. In 2002 (the latest year for which data was available), an estimated 21.7% of the workforce was engaged in agriculture, with 53.6% in services, and the remaining 24.7% in commerce, manufacturing and industry. Unemployment in 2003 was estimated at 20%.
As of 2001, unions in St. Lucia represented about 20% of the workforce. The largest trade union grouping, the Industrial Solidarity Pact, includes the National Workers' Union, the St. Lucia Civil Service Association, the Prison Officers' Association, and the St. Lucia Teachers' Union. The law protects the right to unionize, strike, and bargain collectively.
The law provides for a minimum working age of 14. Occupational safety and health regulations are regularly enforced. There is no national legislated workweek, although the common practice is to work 40 hours a week spread over five days. Special legislation covers hours which shop assistants, agricultural workers, domestics, and young industrial employees work. There is a minimum wage for office clerks only, which was us$300 per month in 2001.
Agriculture accounts for about 8% of GDP. The production of bananas, St. Lucia's most important crop, fluctuates as a result of climatic conditions and plant disease; it has gone from a low of 32,000 tons in 1975 to 160,000 tons in 1990 (48% of the Windward Islands' banana production that year) to 120,000 tons in 2004. Almost the entire production is exported. The second most important crop is coconuts, exported as oil and copra; about 14,000 tons of coconuts were produced in 2004. The production of vegetables and fruits for local consumption increased steadily since 1979, as the government sought to achieve self-sufficiency in tomatoes, onions, carrots, cabbages, and breadfruit. In 2004, the value of exported agricultural products amounted to us$34.6 million, down from us$85.7 million in 1990.
Production in almost every category of animal husbandry is insufficient to satisfy local demand. There are only 12,400 head of cattle on the island, mostly grazing in the middle altitudes of the central mountain region; milk production covers only about 25% of local demand. There were also an estimated 12,500 sheep, 10,000 pigs, and 9,800 goats on the island in 2005. St. Lucia has attained self-sufficiency in pork and egg production. Egg production was about 482 tons in 2005.
The establishment of the St. Lucia Fish Market Corp. in 1985, with a us$2.5-million grant from Canada, provided local fishermen with processing, storage, and marketing facilities, enabling St. Lucia to become self-sufficient in fresh fish production. In 2003, the total catch was 1,466 tons. Dolphinfish, wahoo, and blackfin tuna accounted for 286, 169, and 169 tons, respectively, in 2003.
A small timber industry processes mahogany, pine, and blue mahoe; expansion of cultivation is planned at the rate of 40 hectares (100 acres) annually. About 15% of total available land consists of forest and woodlands. Legislation is in force to protect against deforestation; during 1990 – 2000 deforestation continued at an annual average of 4.9%. Imports of forest products amounted to us$11.7 million in 2004.
Mining played a minor role in St. Lucia's economy. Gravel and sand pits and pumice quarries supplied the island's construction sector.
ENERGY AND POWER
St. Lucia Electricity Services is responsible for the generation and supply of electricity throughout the island. In 2002, total capacity was 66,000 kW. Electrical production in 2002 was 269 million kWh, produced entirely from conventional thermal sources. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was 250 million kWh. St. Lucia's requirements are met through an island-wide grid serviced by two main diesel generation centers, which utilize oil imported from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. The Sulfur Springs in Soufri è re on the west coast have been confirmed as a source of geothermal energy, with a potential generating capacity of 10 MW.
With no reserves of oil, natural gas, or coal, nor any refining capacity, St. Lucia must import all the petroleum products it consumes. In 2002, imports and consumption of refined oil products each averaged 2,500 barrels per day; of that amount, distillates and gasoline accounted for the bulk of the imports at 1,270 barrels per day and 1,050 barrels per day, respectively.
St. Lucia's manufacturing sector is the largest and most diversified in the Windward Islands, with many light manufacturing or assembly plants producing apparel, electronic components, plastic products, and paper and cardboard boxes. Agricultural manufacturing includes lime and coconut processing.
Recently, the government has devoted its efforts to the improvement of economic activity as well as development of the major export markets. With the formation of the Eastern Caribbean Stated Export Development Agency (ECSEDA) in 1990, the performance of local manufacturers was expected to be significantly enhanced in the future. Several industrial estates and free trade zones were established during the 1990s, including a free zone for goods distribution that opened in 2000. The site included 11 factory-style warehouses and one administration center. Many large-scale industrial projects were funded by foreign investors in 2000, including port reconstruction, housing construction, a national stadium, banana trade subsidies, and a fisheries industry upgrade. In addition to private investors, the government has focused on capital projects that have increased growth in the construction sector.
St. Lucia's tourism industry has grown steadily in the last 20 years and has increasing appeal as an eco-destination due to delightfully unspoiled natural resources, which bode well for the future. Several investors have planned new tourism projects for the island, including a large hotel and resort in the southern part of the island.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The government of St. Lucia has established a Science and Technology Division within the government's Central Planning Unit (CPU). As of 1987, three scientists were employed with the CPU. The Windward Islands Banana Growers' Association (WINBAN) maintains a research laboratory in St. Lucia serving the needs of banana growers in the region. The St. Lucia National Trust, headquartered in Castries, is responsible for the wildlife, seabirds, rare plants, and geology on Pigeon, Fregate, and Maria islands. In 1984, total expenditures on research and development amounted to us$12 million. As of 1999 (the latest year for which data is available) there were 237 technicians and 74 scientists and engineers engaged in research and development.
Castries is the economic center of the island. Local produce markets, selling domestically produced goods, are found in all the small villages and towns. They are usually most active in the early morning hours to avoid the midday heat and the afternoon tropical showers. As of 2002, about 73% of the GDP was attributed to service industries.
The Caribbean Development Bank Poverty Assessment Report mentions that 30% of the labor force participants from the poorest strata of St. Lucia were engaged in informal sector activity, mostly due to the high unemployment rate.
The economy of St. Lucia is highly dependent on foreign trade. Agriculture is the major export earner. Duty exemption and tax credits are implemented for trade inducements, nevertheless, some traders complain of the country's protectionist attitude towards selected goods.
St. Lucia benefits from duty free access for manufactured goods to the EU market and preferential arrangements for bananas. The