St. Lucia's history: The first visitors that set foot on the island's lovely beaches were the eaceful Arawak Indians. During the 9th century they were expelled by the fierce Carib Indians until the Europeans discovered this island paradise at the time of Columbus. During the 17th and 18th centuries the French and English battled to become masters and St. Lucia changed hands 14 times. In 1814 St. Lucia was finally ceded to the British and in 1842 English became the official language. In 1967 St. Lucia was granted internal self-government by the British and acquired full independence in 1979 with a stable parliamentary democracy.
Situation: This green volcanic island is situated between Martinique and St. Vincent and it has the shape of a mango. It is part of the Windward Islands with an area of 616 km2 (238 square miles), 43 km (27 miles) long, 23 km (14 miles) wide. Typical are its twin mountains Gros Piton (2619 ft) and Petit Piton (2460 ft) rising steeply from the sea.
Climate: St. Lucia's tropical climate guarantees pleasant temperatures throughout the year. Cool North-Easterly breezes from the Atlantic Ocean provide regular and natural freshness. The winter season has temperatures between 18° C and 31° C (64° F and 88° F) and is also the driest season with occasional refreshing showers. The summer season has temperatures between 23° C and 35° C (74° F and 95° F). This is also the rainy season starting in June and ending in November. Mostly short but heavy showers occur with a rare chance of a tropical storm or hurricane.
Population: The ± 150.000 inhabitants of the island are mainly of African origin. The St. Lucians are generally very charming and kind. Walking through the streets, you are greeted often with a warm 'hello!'. English is the official language. The people also speak a kind of French Patois. Some elderly inhabitants, especially from the rural parts of the island, have difficulties to speak English clearly.
Currency: Prices are mostly indicated in the local currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. The EC$ has a fixed rating against the US$ (2.68 EC$ = 1 US$).
US$ as well as Travellers Cheques and Credit Cards are widely accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
Economy: St. Lucia's economy is traditionally based on agriculture. The earlier sugar cane cultivation has been mostly replaced by banana cultivation. The 'green gold' with an average annual export of about 110,000 tons is, still today, an important source of income.
Tourism with its very solid infrastructure, and respect for nature conservation, is now the most important economical pillar. With about 3,500 rooms and a 250,000 nights spend in 1996, the tourism industry increases yearly by about 10 %.
Electricity: Everywhere 220 Volts 50 Hz. The same type of plugs are used as in the United Kingdom, these differ from most other European countries.