CARIBBEAN ISLAND OF SAINT LUCIA
When comparing the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia to highly popular islands like Saint Maarten, the island of Saint Lucia seems ridiculously tiny being that it’s less than thirty miles long and not even fifteen miles wide. Saint Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles, home to the majestic Piton Mountains, volcanic mud baths, sun-soaked beaches and a vibrant culture. It is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 617 km2 (238 square miles). Castries is the capital city of St. Lucia and is located in the northwest of the island.
Saint Lucia Weather
Saint Lucia has a tropical climate, the weather stays consistently warm throughout the year. The average temperature ranges from 23 to 31 degrees Celsius (84 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit). The island can be considered to having only two seasons-the dry season and the wet season. The dry season falls between December and June and the wet season falls between July and November.
The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD) and is pegged to the U.S. dollar at US$1 =XCD $2.7. The US Dollar is widely accepted at most businesses on the island. The Eastern Caribbean dollar is also the currency for the member States of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is also the currency for two British overseas territories: Anguilla and Montserrat who are associate members of Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
English is the official language. The French Patois or Creole is also widely used by St. Lucians and has its roots from the period of French colonization of the island. The language is appreciated and has gained official status in the Island.
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 basically ceremonial functions, but the actual power lies with the prime minister and the cabinet, usually representing the majority party in parliament. The current Prime Minister is the Honorable Allen Michael Chastanet, whose political party (SLP) won the 2016 general election. Saint Lucia became an independent state in 1979, after gaining its sovereignty from the United Kingdom and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Its Motto: “The Land, The People, The Light”.
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.
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. St. Lucia has no army but maintains a paramilitary Special Service Unit within its police force and a coast guard.
The island has a population of about 178,000. The population is mostly African or of mixed African-European descent. About 61.5% of the population is Roman Catholic, and 25.5% of them are Protestants, with the rest comprising of other various religions.
The economy of Saint Lucia has benefited from foreign direct investment in such sectors as offshore banking, transshipment, and tourism, attracted by a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure, an educated workforce, improved roads, an upgraded communications system, port facilities, and a business-friendly entrepreneurial climate.
Tourism is Saint Lucia’s main source of jobs and income-accounting for 65% of GDP and the island’s main source of foreign exchange earnings. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area. Crops such as bananas, mangoes, and avocados continue to be grown for export.
The ease of doing business continues being favorable. Saint Lucia ranked 93 in the 2019 World Bank “Ease of Doing Business”and 9th in Latin America and Caribbean and 2nd in the Caribbean.
Saint Lucia is home to two airports. Hewanorra International Airport positioned at the southern tip of Saint Lucia, it is strategically located within 5 miles of the southern Seaport and Freezone area and George F. L. Charles Airport located alongside Vigie Beach, 3.7km north of the island and receives mostly inter-island flights.
The island also has two strategically placed Ports. Port Castries is a bustling Cruise Port catering to over 600,000 cruise passengers a year and is also home to cargo handling activities catering to the local market along with Port Vieux Fort which
primarily handles transshipment cargo. Port Vieux Fort is managed and owned by the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA). The port is located less than 5km (3 miles) away from the Hewanorra International Airport and the Saint Lucia Freezone.
Saint Lucia is rapidly establishing itself as one of the world’s major yachting centres, complemented by a wide range of superb facilities catering to all the needs of the international yachting community. The island boasts three world-class marinas in Rodney Bay, Marigot Bay and Soufriere, all of which are official points of entry to the country.
Saint Lucia’s education system is based on the British model and education is compulsory from the ages of 5 to 16. The 1997 Saint Lucia Education Act requires all students to remain in school until 16 years of age; the Universal Secondary School Act (2006/7) assures every student a secondary school placement where they complete five years of basic studies. A small percentage who do not fit into a traditional secondary school programme can continue into a three-year Vocational Education which focuses on preparing students for future jobs.
Saint Lucia, is more than just a holiday destination, in fact the island can boast of having the most Nobel Prize winners per capita of any sovereign country. Two Saint Lucians have won Nobel Prizes: economist W. Arthur Lewis in 1979 and poet Derek Walcott in 1992.
Conde Nast Traveler, a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine published by Conde Nast identified Saint Lucia as one of “The 50 most Beautiful Places in the World.”
St Lucia’s tourism sector continues to enjoy robust performance and continued on the trend of recording the second fastest growth in the region among Caribbean both in 2017 and 2018. Saint Lucia’s tourism industry had another record-setting year in 2018. The destination reported a total of 1,218,294 visitors in 2018, a 10.2 percent increase over 2017. The combined total was buoyed by a 13.6 percent increase in cruise passenger arrivals, thanks to the expansion at the Pointe Seraphine cruise berth in Castries. That coincided with a 26.7 percent increase in yacht arrivals, while stayover arrivals rose by 2.2 percent to 394,780 in the calendar year. The latter included growth of 4.1 percent in the United States market and 4.9 percent growth in the United Kingdom market.