St Lucia

Did you know: 

St Lucia is a mountainous country of volcanic origin ringed with sandy beaches. The country has more Nobel laureates per capita than any other country: poet and playwright Derek Walcott, born in Castries, St Lucia, on 23 January 1930, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992; and Sir Arthur Lewis was Nobel economics laureate in 1979.

Key facts

Joined Commonwealth: 
1979
Population: 
176,000 (2011)
GDP: 
p.c. growth: 0.7% p.a. 1990–2011
UN HDI: 
world ranking 82
Official language: 
English
Timezone: 
GMT minus 4hr
Currency: 
Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$)

Geography

Area: 
616 sq km
Coastline: 
158km
Capital city: 
Castries
Population density (per sq. km): 
286

St Lucia is part of the Windward Islands group, which form an arc jutting out from the Eastern Caribbean into the Atlantic. It lies south of Dominica and north of Barbados.

Main towns: 

Castries (capital, pop. 67,700 in 2010, including Bexon, Babonneau, Ciceron and La Clery), Dennery (3,700), Laborie (3,500), Monchy (3,100), Vieux Fort (3,000), Grande Rivière (2,700), Augier (2,500), Micoud (2,200), Soufrière (1,500) and Anse La Raye (1,400).

Transport: 

There are 1,210km of roads, mainly unpaved. The main cross-island route runs from Castries in the north to Vieux Fort in the south.

The main ports are Castries and Vieux Fort. A fast catamaran service operates between St Lucia, Martinique and Dominica. Several cruise lines call at the island.

Hewanorra International Airport lies 67km south of Castries and George F L Charles, 3km to the north-east.

International relations: 

St Lucia is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Association of Caribbean States, Caribbean Community, Non- Aligned Movement, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Organization of American States, United Nations and World Trade Organization. St Lucia hosts the headquarters of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

Topography: 

St Lucia is a pear-shaped mountainous island of volcanic origin, 43km long. In the centre of the island, Mt Gimie rises to 950m, while Gros Piton (798m) and Petit Piton (750m) lie to the west, rising sheer out of the sea. Sulphurous springs, steam and gases bubble out of a volcanic crater a few kilometres from Petit Piton. The mountains are intersected by short rivers, debouching in places into broad fertile valleys

Climate: 

The hot 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.

Environment: 

The hot 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

Vegetation: 

With its economy traditionally based on agriculture, about 30% of the land area is under cultivation. Elsewhere there is rainforest with exotic and varied plant-life, many with brilliant flowers. Forest covers 77% of the land area.

Wildlife: 

This small island has rich birdlife including several unique species, for example the St Lucia oriole and the St Lucia black finch. The St Lucia parrot was the subject of a successful conservation programme established in 1978 which raised the population from some 150 birds to over 400. Native reptiles include the St Lucia tree lizard and the pygmy lizard.

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