Area: 619 sq. km. (238 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capital--Castries (pop. est.
67,000); Micoud, Gros-Islet; Vieux Fort;
Nationality: Noun and adjective--St.
Population (2004 est.): 162,010.
Annual growth rate (2004 est.): 0.8%.
Ethnic groups: African descent 90%, mixed 6%,
East Indian 3%, European 0.8%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Church of England
3%, various Protestant denominations.
Languages: English (official); a French patois
is common throughout the country.
Education: Literacy--85%. Years
compulsory--ages 5-15. Attendance--more than
80% urban, 75% rural.
Health (2002): Life expectancy--77 years
female; 72 years male. Infant mortality rate--14.2/1,000.
Work force (2003): Agriculture--16%.
Manufacturing--7%. Hotels and
Unemployment (2004): 21%.
Type: Westminster-style parliamentary democracy.
Independence: February 22, 1979.
Branches: Executive--governor general
(representing Queen Elizabeth II, head of
state), prime minister (head of government),
Judicial--district courts, Eastern
Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of
Appeals), final appeal to privy council in
London. Administrative subdivisions: 11
Political parties: St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP,
ruling); in power since 1997, United Workers'
Party (UWP, official opposition).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (2004): $753 million.
Annual growth rate (2004): 3.6%.
Per capita GDP (2004 estimate): $4,600.
Natural resources: Forests, beaches, minerals
(pumice), mineral springs.
Agriculture (2004): 4.5% of GDP. Products--bananas,
cocoa, coconut, citrus fruits, and livestock.
Manufacturing (2004): 5.4% of GDP. Types--garments,
electronic components, beverages, corrugated
Tourism (2004): 48% of GDP (direct and indirect
Trade: Exports (2004)--$81 million:
bananas, cocoa, vegetables, fruits, other
agricultural products, oils and fats,
manufactured goods. Major export markets
(2004)--U.K. (27%), U.S. (13%), Trinidad and
Tobago (12%), and Barbados (8%). Imports
(2004)--$383 million: food, fuel, manufactured
goods, machinery, and transport equipment.
Major suppliers--U.S. (40%), Trinidad and
Tobago (16%), U.K. (9%), and Japan (4%).
St. Lucia's population is predominantly of
African and mixed African-European descent, with
small East Indian and European minorities.
English is the official language, although many
St. Lucians speak a French patois. Ninety
percent of the population is Roman Catholic, a
further reflection of early French influence on
the island. The population of just over 162,000
is evenly divided between urban and rural areas,
although the capital, Castries, contains more
than one-third of the population. Despite a high
emigration rate, the population is growing
rapidly, about 5.4% per year.
St. Lucia's first known inhabitants were Arawaks,
believed to have come from northern South
America in 200-400 A.D. Numerous archaeological
sites on the island have produced specimens of
the Arawaks' well-developed pottery. Caribs
gradually replaced Arawaks during the period
from 800-1000 A.D.
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 hostile Caribs.
The English, with their headquarters in
Barbados, and the French, centered on
Martinique, found St. Lucia attractive after the
sugar industry developed in 1765. Britain
eventually triumphed, with France permanently
ceding St. Lucia in 1815. In 1838, St. Lucia was
incorporated into the British Windward Islands
administration, headquartered in Barbados. This
lasted until 1885, when the capital was moved to
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-Nevis-Anguilla, and St. Lucia--developed a
novel form of cooperation called associated
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. The island continues to
cooperate with its neighbors through the
Caribbean community and common market (CARICOM),
the East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM), and the
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
St. Lucia is a parliamentary democracy modeled
on the Westminster system. The head of state is
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a Governor
General, appointed by the Queen as her
representative. The Governor General exercises
ceremonial functions, but residual powers, under
the constitution, can be used at the governor
general's discretion. The actual power in St.
Lucia lies with the prime minister and the
cabinet, usually representing the majority party
The bicameral parliament consists of a
17-member House of Assembly whose members are
elected by universal adult suffrage for 5-year
terms and an 11-member senate appointed by the
governor general. The parliament may be
dissolved by the governor general at any point
during its 5-year term, either at the request of
the prime minister--in order to take the nation
into early elections--or at the governor
general's own discretion, if the house passes a
vote of no-confidence in the government.
St. Lucia has an independent judiciary
composed of district courts and a high court.
Cases may be appealed to the Eastern Caribbean
Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in
London. The island is divided into 10
administrative divisions, including the capital,
Castries. Popularly elected local governments in
most towns and villages perform such tasks as
regulation of sanitation and markets and
maintenance of cemeteries and secondary roads.
St. Lucia has no army but maintains a coast
guard and a paramilitary Special Service Unit
within its police force.
Politics in St. Lucia was once dominated by
the United Workers Party (UWP), which, until
1997 had governed the country for all but three
years since independence. John Compton was
premier of St. Lucia from 1964 until
independence in February 1979 and remained prime
minister until elections later that year.
The St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) won the first
post-independence elections in July 1979, taking
12 of 17 seats in parliament. A period of
turbulence ensued, in which squabbling within
the party led to several changes of prime
minister. Pressure from the private sector and
the unions forced the government to resign in
1982. New elections were then called and were
won resoundingly by Compton's UWP, which took 14
of 17 seats.
The UWP was elected for a second time in
April 16, 1987, but with only nine of 17 seats.
Seeking to increase his slim margin, Prime
Minister Compton suspended parliament and called
new elections on April 30. This unprecedented
snap election, however, gave Compton the same
results as before--the UWP retained nine seats
and the SLP eight. In April 1992, Prime Minister
Compton's government again defeated the SLP. In
this election, the government increased its
majority in parliament to 11 seats.
In 1996, Compton announced his resignation as
prime minister in favor of his chosen successor
Dr. Vaughan Lewis, former director-general of
the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Dr. Lewis became prime minister and minister of
finance, planning and development on April 2,
1996. The SLP also had a change of leadership
with former CARICOM official Dr. Kenny Anthony
succeeding businessman Julian Hunte.
In elections held May 23, 1997, the St. Lucia
Labor Party won all but one of the 17 seats in
parliament, and Dr. Kenny Anthony became Prime
Minister and Minister of Finance, Planning and
Development on May 24, 1997.
In elections of December 3, 2001 the St.
Lucia Labor Party won 14 of the 17 available
seats. The leader of the UWP, Dr. Morella
Joseph, failed to win a seat. Arsene James
serves as leader of the parliamentary
opposition, while former Prime Minister Sir John
Compton is leader of the opposition UWP.
Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Dr. Pearlette Louisy
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance,
International Financial Services, Economic
Affairs and Information--Dr. Kenny Anthony
Minister of External Affairs, International
Trade and Civil Aviation--A.G. Petrus Compton
Ambassador to the UN--Julian Hunte
Ambassador to the U.S. and the OAS--Sonia M.
Consul General New York--Herbert Emmmanuel
St. Lucia maintains an embassy at 3216 New
Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 (tel.
St. Lucia's economy depends primarily on revenue
from tourism and banana production, with some
contribution from small-scale manufacturing. All
sectors of the economy have benefited from
infrastructure improvements in roads,
communications, water supply, sewerage, and port
facilities. These improvements, combined with a
stable political environment and educated work
force, have attracted foreign investors in
several different sectors. Although St, Lucia
enjoys a steady flow of investment in tourism,
the single most significant foreign investment
is Hess Oil's large petroleum storage and
transshipment terminal. In addition, the
Caribbean Development Bank funded an extensive
airport expansion project.
Although banana revenues have helped fund the
country's development since the 1960s, the
industry is now in a terminal decline, due to
competition from lower-cost Latin American
banana producers and soon-to-be 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 provide jobs for
displaced banana workers.
Tourism was booming in 2004, firmly out of
the post-September 11, 2001 recession. St. Lucia
attracted nearly 800,000 cruise ship and
stay-over visitors (those staying overnight on
the island). Several investors have planned new
tourism projects for the island, including a
large hotel and resort in the southern part of
St. Lucia is a member of the Eastern
Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern
Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common
currency (Eastern Caribbean Dollar--EC$) for all
members of the ECCU. The primary goal of the
ECCB's monetary policy is to maintain the
longstanding currency peg of EC $2.7 to U.S. $1.
The Central Bank also manages monetary policy
and regulates and supervises commercial banking
activities in its member countries.
St. Lucia is a beneficiary of the U.S.
Caribbean Basin Initiative and is a member of
the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
The country hosts the headquarters of the
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
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
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 President
Clinton in Bridgetown, Barbados in May 1997. The
summit, which was the first-ever meeting in the
region between U.S. and Caribbean heads of
government, strengthened the basis for regional
cooperation on justice and counternarcotics,
finance, development, and trade issues.
There are currently four diplomatic missions
in St. Lucia--People's Republic of China,
France, Venezuela, and an office of the
Barbados-based British High Commission. Some
countries with which St. Lucia has diplomatic
relations have representatives resident in
Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana.
U.S.-ST. LUCIAN RELATIONS
The United States and St. Lucia have a
cooperative relationship. The United States
supports the St. Lucian Government's efforts to
expand its economic base and improve the lives
of its citizens.
The administration of Prime Minster Kenny
Anthony made a significant effort to strengthen
ties with the U.S. during 2003. Former Foreign
Minster Julian Hunte made improved U.S.
relations a signal objective for the government
and used his perch as President of the UN
General Assembly to help promote this aim.
The government has cooperated with the U.S.
on security concerns and managing the Haiti
situation. U.S. assistance is primarily
channeled through multilateral agencies such as
the World Bank and the
USAID satellite office in Bridgetown,
Peace Corps, whose Eastern Caribbean
regional headquarters is in St. Lucia, has 15-20
volunteers in St. Lucia, working primarily in
education, agriculture, and health. U.S.
security assistance programs provide limited
training to the paramilitary Special Services
Unit and the coast guard. In addition, St. Lucia
receives U.S. counternarcotics assistance and
benefits from U.S. military exercise-related and
humanitarian civic action construction projects.
St. Lucia and the United States share
interest in combating international crime, the
flow of illegal drugs and narcotics trafficking.
Because of St. Lucia's geographical location, it
is an appealing transit point for traffickers.
In response to this threat, the Government of
St. Lucia has concluded various bilateral
treaties with the United States, including a
Maritime Law Enforcement Agreement (subsequently
amended to include overflight and order-to-land
provisions), a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty,
and an Extradition Treaty.
More Americans visit St. Lucia than any other
national group. In 2004, tourist visitors
totaled nearly 800,000, mainly from the U.S.,
U.K., and CARICOM. Cruise ship arrivals in 2004
were up 22.4% over 2003, and the number of
stay-over visitors also increased by 7.8% in the
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
Political/Economic Counselor--Sheila Peters
Consul General--Clyde Howard Jr.
Regional Labor Attaché--Alfred Anzaldua
Economic-Commercial Affairs--John Ashworth
Public Affairs Officer--Julie O'Reagan
Peace Corps Director--Terry Armstrong
The United States maintains no diplomatic
presence in St. Lucia. The Ambassador and
Embassy officers are resident in Barbados and
frequently travel to St. Lucia.
Embassy in Barbados is located in the
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Building,
Broad Street, Bridgetown (tel: 246-436-4950;