St. Lucia is an island state located in the Caribbean Sea. The island was formed as the result of volcanic activity and is just 27 miles long and 14 miles across at the point of maximum width. The bulk of its inhabitants are descendants of West African slaves were brought over to work as plantation labourers during the 17th and 18th century. St. Lucia is a decidedly Roman Catholic state with an estimated 80 per cent of its population belonging to that Christian denomination.
St. Lucia was administered in 1833 as part of the British Leeward Island before being incorporated into the Windward Islands group in 1940. From 1958 to 1952 St. Lucia was a participant in the Federation of the West Indies and in 1967 became one of the six self-governing West Indies Associated States. Finally, on February 22, 1979 St. Lucia proclaimed its independence from the British Commonwealth.
St. Lucia is 238 square miles in area. The highest point on the island is Mt. Gimie which peaks out at 3,145 feet. Located near Petit Peak and situated in the crater of a volcano are sulphur springs that are a major tourist attraction due to the alleged healing properties of these hot springs. Fertile valleys exist within the mountainous areas and these valleys are homes to a host of springs.
As might be expected from a topical island the principal economic power of St. Lucia lies in exportation of bananas and coconuts. For much of its history St. Lucia's biggest crop was sugarcane, but production of that crop when the cane fields were converted for the cultivation of bananas in the mid-1960s. St. Lucia also has a strong fishing industry and tourism really began to take off during the 1970s.
St. Lucia's government is a constitutional monarchy in which the British queen or king is recognised as the head of state. The British monarch is represented by locally by a governor general. There is a bicameral parliament formed by a House of Assembly and Senate. The Assembly representatives are elected while Senators are appointed. Whoever is the leader of the majority party is recognised as the prime minister and is considered the head of the St. Lucia government.
The national motto of St. Lucia is "The Land, The People, The Light." The national anthem of St. Lucia is titled Sons and Daughters of St. Lucia. The national bird is the St. Lucia Parrot, or Jacquot; it is a bird that is native only to the island.
St. Lucia is not particularly diverse ethnically speaking. Ninety per cent of the population is of African descent, with six per cent of mixed race heritage, while three per cent are of either East Indian or Asian background. English is the official language, but many inhabitants still speak in a popular French-based Creole patois.