Facts about Saint Lucia

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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. Even after the abolition of slavery on its plantations in 1834, Saint Lucia remained an agricultural island, dedicated to producing tropical commodity crops. Self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979.

Geography of Saint Lucia

Location:
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Coordinates:
13 53 N, 60 68 W
Area:
total: 616 sq km
water: 10 sq km
land: 606 sq km
Area comparative:
3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
158 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate:
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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Gimie 950 m
Natural resources:
forests, sandy beaches, minerals (pumice), mineral springs, geothermal potential
Natural hazards:
hurricanes and volcanic activity
Environment current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion, particularly in the northern region
Geography - note:
the twin Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton), striking cone-shaped peaks south of Soufriere, are one of the scenic natural highlights of the Caribbean

Population of Saint Lucia

Population:
159,585 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.8% (male 25,941/female 24,319)
15-64 years: 65% (male 53,916/female 55,582)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 3,186/female 5,514)
Median age:
25.2 years
Growth rate:
1.29%
Infant mortality:
13.17 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.84 years
male: 70.29 years
female: 77.65 years
Fertility rate:
2.18 children born/woman
Nationality:
noun: Saint Lucian(s)
adjective: Saint Lucian
Ethnic groups:
black 90%, mixed 6%, East Indian 3%, white 1%
Religions:
Roman Catholic 90%, Anglican 3%, other Protestant 7%
Languages:
English (official), French patois
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 90.1%
male: 89.5%
female: 90.6%

Government

Country name:
conventional short form: Saint Lucia
Government type:
Westminster-style parliamentary democracy
Capital:
Castries
Administrative divisions:
11 quarters; Anse-la-Raye, Castries, Choiseul, Dauphin, Dennery, Gros-Islet, Laborie, Micoud, Praslin, Soufriere, Vieux-Fort
Independence:
22 February 1979 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 22 February (1979)
Constitution:
22 February 1979
Legal system:
based on English common law
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Dame Pearlette LOUISY (since September 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Stephenson KING; note - Sir John COMPTON died in office Friday, 7 September 2007
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: the monarch is hereditary; the governor general is appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general.
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (11 seats; 6 members appointed on the advice of the prime minister, 3 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and 2 after consultation with religious, economic, and social groups) and the House of Assembly (17 seats; members are elected by popular vote from single-member constituencies to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (jurisdiction extends to Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

Economy

The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, with a surge in foreign direct investment in 2006, attributed to the construction of several tourism projects. Tourism is the main source of foreign exchange, with almost 900,000 arrivals in 2007. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the government is trying to revitalize the banana industry. Saint Lucia is vulnerable to a variety of external shocks including declines in European Union banana preferences, volatile tourism receipts, natural disasters, and dependence on foreign oil. High debt servicing obligations constrain the KING administration's ability to respond to adverse external shocks. Economic fundamentals remain solid, even though unemployment needs to be reduced.

GDP:
$1.794 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
3.3% 
GDP per capita:
$5,400 
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 7%
industry: 20%
services: 73% 
Inflation rate:
3% 
Labor force:
43,800 
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 21.7%, services 53.6%, industry, commerce, and manufacturing 24.7% 
Unemployment:
16.5% 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
Industries:
clothing, assembly of electronic components, beverages, corrugated cardboard boxes, tourism, lime processing, coconut processing
Agriculture:
bananas, coconuts, vegetables, citrus, root crops, cocoa
Exports:
bananas 41%, clothing, cocoa, vegetables, fruits, coconut oil
Export partners:
France 25%, US 18.3%, China 17.8%, UK 14.5%, Brazil 6.8% 
Imports:
food 23%, manufactured goods 21%, machinery and transportation equipment 19%, chemicals, fuels
Import partners:
US 23.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 16%, Netherlands 11.1%, Venezuela 6.3%, Finland 6.2%, UK 5.7%, France 4.7%
Currency:
East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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