|Area:||620 sq km|
|Population:||160,145 (July 2002 estimate)|
|Languages:||English is the official and commercial language but a broken French or patois (known as Kweyol) is also widely spoken.|
|Religion(s):||The principal denominations are Roman Catholic, (93%), Anglican, Methodist and Baptist. There are also small Jewish, Hindu and Muslim minorities.|
|Currency:||East Caribbean Dollar (EC$)|
|Major political parties:||Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), United Workers Party (UWP)|
|Government:||A Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. There are two chambers, the 17 member House of Assembly, whose members are elected for five-year terms, and the 11 Member Senate, whose members are nominated. (6 by the Prime Minister, 3 by the Leader of the opposition, 2 by the Governor General).|
|Head of State:||Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, (since September 1997)|
|Prime Minister:||Dr Kenny D Anthony (he is also Minister for Finance, International Financial Services, Economic Affairs and Information)|
|Foreign Minister:||The Hon Senator Petrus Compton (Minister for External Affairs, he is also Minister for International Trade and Civil Aviation)|
|Membership of international groups/organisations:||ACCT (associate), ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, CFATF, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO|
Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, 21 miles south of Martinique and 26 miles north of St Vincent. There are 158 km of coastline. The island is volcanic and famous for its twin 'pitons' and sulphur Springs at Soufrière. The tropical climate is moderated all year round by the north-east Trade Winds. The dry season is January to April, the rainy season May to November. Temperatures are uniform at about 26C (about 80F). The island lies in the hurricane belt. Geographic Co-ordinates: 13 53 N, 60 68 W.
The island was first settled by Arawak Indians around 200 AD but by 800 AD their culture had been superseded by an early Amerindian group known as the Caribs. The Caribs called the island 'Iouanalao' and 'Hewanorra', meaning 'Island of the Iguanas'. The first European to discover Saint Lucia was Juan de la Cosa, who had at one time served as Columbus's navigator (it is generally believed that Columbus did not set foot on Saint Lucia, but merely sailed close by). The first European settlement was in the 1550s by the buccaneer Francois le Clerc (aka Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg). Around 1600 the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort. However, two attempts by English colonists, in 1605 and 1639, ended in failure as the resident Caribs forced the colonists to flee. By the mid 17th century the French arrived and 'purchased' the island for the French West India Company. Anglo-French rivalry for the island continued for more than a century and a half, with the island changing hands a total of 14 times. The island's first settlements were all French, beginning with Soufrière in 1746. By 1780, twelve settlements and a large number of sugar plantations had been established. Two years earlier, the British launched their first invasion effort at the 'Battle of Cul de Sac'. By 1814, after a prolonged series of battles, the island was finally ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris. Self-government with Associated State Status was achieved in 1967 and independence followed on 22 February 1979. Saint Lucia is part of the Commonwealth.
The United Workers Party (UWP), led by Sir John Compton, dominated post-independence politics. But after 25 years in opposition a Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP)- led coalition won a landslide victory in the May 1997 general election. There were early elections on 3 December 2001. The SLP was returned to power, defeating the UWP by 14 seats to 3, and Dr Kenny Anthony was re-elected as Prime Minister. A series of disputes within the UWP has left the Opposition in some turmoil. The UWP retains a single seat in the House of Assembly, leaving the Independent Marcus Nicholas, as the Leader of the Opposition in the House.
At the UWP party convention in March 2005, Sir John Compton emerged from retirement to successfully challenge Dr Vaughan Lewis for the party leadership. In a further development, the high-profile former SLP Minister Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, who resigned from the party in April 2004, has joined the fledgling Organisation for National Empowerment. With much scope for political manoeuvring and speculation rife about possible coalitions between opposition parties, the stage is set for an interesting run up to general elections, which are due by the end of 2006.
Lately, Saint Lucia has seen escalating drug-related crime, with twenty homicides in the period January to July 2005. Living costs and unemployment (around 18.9%) remain high. A nationwide survey published in February 2003 revealed that a vast majority of the population believed that crime was a serious or very serious problem in Saint Lucia. Two years on, tackling crime remains a high priority for the Government, which is actively considering the use of the death penalty for convicted murderers as a deterrent.
Saint Lucia's economy has been traditionally reliant on its agricultural sector. However, the banana industry has faced ongoing retrenchment over the last decade because of the erosion of the ACP countries’ preferential access to the EU market and increasing competition from Latin American producers. As in other Windward Island banana producing countries, a large number of farmers have been displaced over this period. Saint Lucia is a recipient of European Union funds under the Special Framework of Assistance, which was established to assist traditional ACP banana suppliers to adapt to new market conditions, and in particular to improve competitiveness.
Nevertheless, Saint Lucia continues to be the leading Windward Island banana producer, accounting for half of Windward banana exports in recent years. Banana exports increased by 24.6% in volume (to 42,326 tonnes) and 24.7% in value in 2004. Despite damage caused by Hurricane Ivan to an estimated 30% of the crop.
Saint Lucia's small manufacturing sector is among the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean.
In recent years, tourism, particularly all-inclusive resorts, has replaced bananas as the main earner of foreign exchange. Saint Lucia is a prime yachting centre and cruise destination. Tourist numbers declined in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 but recovered during 2003-4 and have continued to grow strongly in the first months of 2005. Tourism and business generally expect a further boost when Saint Lucia hosts the England team and their supporters during the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Construction activity continues to increase with the implementation of several public sector projects, mainly road maintenance and construction, and new hotel developments.
The Saint Lucian economy is showing signs of recovery following an estimated 5.25% drop in GDP in 2001. GDP grew by 3.7% in 2003 and 3.6% in 2004. International experts have expressed concern that public finances have weakened significantly since 2000. The 2005/6 budget envisages a 24% increase in expenditure funded in part by new borrowing. This will allow a programme of infrastructure improvements needed before the Cricket World Cup. The government has also announced a package of incentives for new tourist accommodation projects in preparation for 2007.
Saint Lucia is committed to joining the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) in due course.
Nominal GDP (2003 est.): US$692 million
Nominal GDP per head (2003 est.):US$3,705
Annual Growth:3.6% (2004 Govt. figure)
Inflation:Consumer Prices 1% (IMF 2004 est.)
Major Industries:Tourism, construction, light manufacturing (clothing, assembly of electronic components, beverages, corrugated cardboard boxes, lime processing, coconut processing), financial services.
Agricultural Products:Bananas, coconuts, vegetables, citrus, root crops, cocoa, nutmeg.
Major trading partners (Export):UK 50%, US 24%, Caricom countries 16% (1995)
Major trading partners (Import):US 36%, Caricom countries 22%, UK 11%, Japan 5%, Canada 4% (1995
St Lucia is a member of Caricom and also of the sub-regional OECS whose Secretariat is in Castries.
Only France, China, Venezuela, Cuba, mexico and the UK have resident diplomatic representation in St Lucia. But healthy relationships with, inter alia, the US, Canada and Japan are managed remotely from regional diplomatic missions.
The United Kingdom and Saint Lucia share an excellent bilateral relationship Historical links are strong; many Saint Lucians have lived in the UK or have relatives here; and 80,000 British visitors holiday in Saint Lucia each year. The two governments work closely together in a number of areas from ensuring the future of the banana industry, to joint efforts to eradicate drug trafficking and abuse. Prime Minister Kenny Anthony met Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street when he visited London for the Trooping the Colour ceremony in June 2003. He also had discussions with Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell when the latter visited the Caribbean in March 2004. Dr Anthony visited London most recently in July 2004 and had talks with Bill Rammell and the Lord Chancellor.
The Department for International Development works closely with large organisations such as the Caribbean Development Bank and the European Commission.
Saint Lucia benefits from a number of DFID sub-regional and regional initiatives. These include technical assistance to the Caribbean Development Bank; technical assistance to the CARICOM Regional Negotiating Machinery; support to CARICOM with implementation of the regional strategic framework on HIV/AIDS; support to the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) and to the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD).
Saint Lucia benefited by £2.8m from the Commonwealth Debt Initiative in recognition of efforts being made to reduce poverty.
Total UK exports to Saint Lucia for 2004 were £16.16 million and imports from Saint Lucia were £20.50 million. Barclays Bank International retains close links with First Caribbean International Bank, one of the major financial institutions in the country. The accounting firm Price Waterhouse is also well established. The main telecommunications services provider is Cable and Wireless (West Indies) Ltd, though with liberalisation of the telecommunications sector others have entered the market. The construction sector is active through new hotel and infrastructure developments. Saint Lucia now boasts three Sandals resorts and construction will begin in 2005 on a new Beaches family resort. Other hotel developments are planned before 2007. The recently completed Vieux Fort to Soufriere road project was undertaken by Lagan Holdings of Belfast. Halcrow have been in Saint Lucia for many years. There is British involvement in the tourism sector through Rex Hotels and the new Discovery at Marigot Bay residential and marina development. Courts (Saint Lucia) Ltd remains a major retailer in the home furnishing/apparel market. The Freelander, Discovery and Rover cars are enjoying increasing popularity through a Landrover/Rover dealership.
Baroness Amos visited Saint Lucia in November 2002. The Duke of York visited St Lucia in February 2004. He participated in the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of independence on 22 February. Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland visited Saint Lucia in May 2004 and had talks with Dr Kenny Anthony and with the Attorney General of Saint Lucia.
Life expectancy (2002 est.): 72.82 years (Male: 69 years, Female: 76.39 years)
Infant mortality rate (2001 est.): 15,22 deaths per 1000 live births
The incidence of HIV/AIDS infection in the Caribbean is second only to that of sub-Saharan Africa.
A UK-CARICOM Forum on Reducing Stigma and Discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDs in the Caribbean was held in St Kitts in November 2004. The Forum was attended by stakeholders from throughout the region. Participants included the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr Peter Piot; the Director of the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development, Sir George Alleyne; Dr Edwin Carrington, CARICOM Secretary-General and DfID Minister Gareth Thomas MP. The aim of the Forum was to accelerate the process of reducing HIV/AIDs-related stigma and discrimination through persons identified as 'Champions for Change'.