|General background: 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. Self-government was granted in 1967
and independence in 1979.
3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season
from January to April, rainy season from May to August.
Terrain: Volcanic and mountainous with some
broad, fertile valleys.
Population: 160,145 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Black 90%, Mixed 6%, East Indian
3%, White 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant
7%, Anglican 3%
Language: English (official), French patois
Government type: Westminster-style parliamentary
Legal system: Based on English common law.
Economic overview: The recent changes in the
EU import preference regime and the increased competition
from Latin American bananas have made economic diversification
increasingly important in Saint Lucia. The island
nation has been able to attract foreign business and
investment, especially in its offshore banking and
tourism industries. The manufacturing sector is the
most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the
government is trying to revitalize the banana industry.
Despite negative growth in 2001, economic fundamentals
remain solid, and GDP growth should recover in 2002.
Communication/Telephone system: Adequate system.
Places of interest: The most dramatic scenery
is in the south, where the twin volcanic peaks of
the Pitons rise sharply from the shoreline to form