Saint Lucia - Tips

Saint Lucia Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Saint Lucia

The flag of St. Lucia is blue, with a gold isosceles triangle below a black
arrowhead; the upper edges of the arrowhead have a white border.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Saint Lucia

Geography
Area: 619 sq. km. (238 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capital--Castries (pop. est. 67,000); Micoud; Gros-Islet; Vieux Fort;
Soufriere.
Terrain: Mountainous.
Climate: Tropical.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--St. Lucian(s).
Population (2005): 165,500.
Annual growth rate (2005): 1.5%.
Ethnic groups: African descent 90%, mixed 6%, East Indian 3%, European 1%.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, various Protestant
denominations.
Languages: English (official); a French patois is common throughout the
country.
Education (2004): Adult literacy--94.8%.
Health (2005): Infant mortality rate--12/1,000. Life expectancy--men 70.3
years; women 77.7 years.
Unemployment (2006): 15.7%.

Government
Type: Westminster-style parliamentary democracy.
Independence: February 22, 1979.
Constitution: 1979.
Branches: Executive--governor general (representing Queen Elizabeth II, head
of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet.
Legislative--bicameral parliament. Judicial--district courts, Eastern
Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeals), final appeal to
Privy Council in London.
Administrative subdivisions: 11 parishes.
Political parties: United Workers Party (incumbent); St. Lucia Labour Party.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy
GDP (2005): $825.2 million.
GDP growth rate (2005): 5.1%.
Per capita GDP (2005): $4,986.
Inflation (2005): 5.2%.
Natural resources: Forests, minerals (pumice), mineral springs.
Agriculture: Bananas, cocoa, coconut, citrus fruits, and livestock.
Manufacturing: Garments, electronic components, beverages, corrugated boxes.
Services: Tourism and offshore banking.
Trade (2005): Exports--$64 million (merchandise) and $389 million (commercial
services). Major markets--European Union (28.2%), Trinidad and Tobago
(22.5%), United States (14.0%), Barbados (10.1%), and Grenada (5.2%).
Imports--$475 million (merchandise) and $159 million (commercial services).
Major suppliers--United States (43.9%), Trinidad and Tobago (14.2%), European
Union (14.2%), Japan (4.6%), and Barbados (3.0%).
Official exchange rate: EC$2.70 = U.S. $1.

PEOPLE
St. Lucia's population is predominantly of African and mixed African-European
descent, with small East Indian and European minorities. English is the
official language, although many St. Lucians speak a French patois. Ninety
percent of the population is Roman Catholic, a further reflection of early
French influence on the island. The population of just over 165,000 is evenly
divided between urban and rural areas, although the capital, Castries,
contains more than one-third of the population.

HISTORY
St. Lucia's first known inhabitants were the Arawaks, believed to have come
from northern South America in 200-400 A.D. Numerous archaeological sites on
the island have produced specimens of the Arawaks' well-developed pottery.
Caribs gradually replaced Arawaks during the period from 800-1000 A.D.

Europeans first landed on the island in either 1492 or 1502 during Spain's
early exploration of the Caribbean. The Dutch, English, and French all tried
to establish trading outposts on St. Lucia in the 17th century but faced
opposition from the Caribs.

The English, with their headquarters in Barbados, and the French, based in
Martinique, found St. Lucia attractive after the sugar industry developed in
the 18th century. Britain eventually triumphed, with France permanently
ceding St. Lucia in 1815. In 1838, St. Lucia was incorporated into the
British Windward Islands administration, headquartered in Barbados. This
lasted until 1885, when the capital was moved to Grenada.

Increasing self-governance has marked St. Lucia's 20th-century history. A
1924 constitution gave the island its first form of representative
government, with a minority of elected members in the previously
all-nominated legislative council. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in
1951, and elected members became a majority of the council. Ministerial
government was introduced in 1956, and in 1958 St. Lucia joined the
short-lived West Indies Federation, a semi-autonomous dependency of the
United Kingdom. When the federation collapsed in 1962, following Jamaica's
withdrawal, a smaller federation was briefly attempted. After the second
failure, the United Kingdom and the six windward and leeward
islands--Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla,
and St. Lucia--developed a novel form of cooperation called associated
statehood.

As an associated state of the United Kingdom from 1967 to 1979, St. Lucia had
full responsibility for internal self-government but left its external
affairs and defense responsibilities to the United Kingdom. This interim
arrangement ended on February 22, 1979, when St. Lucia achieved full
independence. St. Lucia continues to recognize Queen Elizabeth II as titular
head of state and is an active member of the Commonwealth. The island
continues to cooperate with its neighbors through the Caribbean Community and
Common Market (CARICOM), the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the
East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean
States (OECS), and the Regional Security System (RSS).

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
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
ceremonial functions, but residual powers, under the constitution, can be
used at the governor general's discretion. The actual power in St. Lucia lies
with the prime minister and the cabinet, usually representing the majority
party in parliament.

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 by the governor general. The parliament may be
dissolved by the governor general at any point during its 5-year term, either
at the request of the prime minister--in order to take the nation into early
elections--or at the governor general's own discretion, if the house passes a
vote of no-confidence in the government.

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. The
island is divided into 10 administrative divisions, including the capital,
Castries. Popularly elected local governments in most towns and villages
perform such tasks as regulation of sanitation and markets and maintenance of
cemeteries and secondary roads. St. Lucia has no army but maintains a coast
guard and a paramilitary Special Services Unit within its police force.

The United Workers Party (UWP) was once the dominant force in the politics of
St. Lucia. Until 1997, the UWP governed the country for all but three years
since independence. John Compton was premier of St. Lucia from 1964 until
independence in February 1979 and remained prime minister until elections
later that year.

The St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) won the first post-independence elections in
July 1979, taking 12 of 17 seats in parliament. A period of turbulence
ensued, in which squabbling within the party led to several changes of prime
minister. Pressure from the private sector and the unions forced the
government to resign in 1982. New elections were then called and were won
resoundingly by Compton's UWP, which took 14 of 17 seats.

The UWP was re-elected on April 16, 1987, but with only nine of 17 seats.
Seeking to increase his slim margin, Prime Minister Compton suspended
parliament and called new elections on April 30. This unprecedented snap
election, however, gave Compton the same results as before--the UWP retained
nine seats and the SLP eight. In April 1992, Prime Minister Compton's
government again defeated the SLP. In this election, however, the government
increased its majority in parliament to 11 seats.

In 1996, Compton announced his resignation as prime minister in favor of his
chosen successor Dr. Vaughan Lewis, former director-general of the
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Dr. Lewis became Prime
Minister and Minister of Finance, Planning and Development on April 2, 1996.
The SLP also had a change of leadership with former CARICOM official Dr.
Kenny Anthony succeeding businessman Julian Hunte.

In elections held May 23, 1997, the St. Lucia Labour Party won all but one of
the 17 seats in parliament, and Dr. Kenny Anthony became Prime Minister and
Minister of Finance, Planning and Development on May 24, 1997.

In elections of December 3, 2001, the SLP won 14 of the 17 available seats.
The leader of the UWP, Dr. Morella Joseph, failed to win a seat. Marcus
Nicholas served as leader of the parliamentary opposition. Former Prime
Minister Sir John Compton came out of retirement to become leader of the
opposition UWP in 2005.

The United Workers Party won an upset victory in elections held December 11,
2006, taking 11 seats against 6 won by the St. Lucia Labour Party. Sir John
Compton once again returned to the position of Prime Minister, as well as
Minister of Finance.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Dr. Pearlette Louisy
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance--Sir John Compton
Minister for External Affairs, International Financial Services, Information
and Broadcasting--Rufus Bousquet
Ambassador to the UN--Chargé Olaf Fontenelle
Ambassador to the United States and the OAS--Sonia Merlyn Johnny

St. Lucia maintains an embassy at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC
20016 (tel. 202-364-6792). St. Lucia also maintains consulates general in New
York and Miami.

ECONOMY
St. Lucia's economy depends primarily on revenue from tourism and banana
production, with some contribution from small-scale manufacturing. All
sectors of the economy have benefited from infrastructure improvements in
roads, communications, water supply, sewerage, and port facilities. These
improvements, combined with a stable political environment and educated work
force, have attracted foreign investors in several different sectors.
Although St. Lucia enjoys a steady flow of investment in tourism, the single
most significant foreign investment is Hess Oil's large petroleum storage and
transshipment terminal. In addition, the Caribbean Development Bank funded an
extensive airport expansion project.

Although banana revenues have helped fund the country's development since the
1960s, the industry is now in a terminal decline, due to competition from
lower-cost Latin American banana producers and soon-to-be reduced European
Union trade preferences. The country is encouraging farmers to plant crops
such as cocoa, mangos, and avocados to diversify its agricultural production
and provide jobs for displaced banana workers.

Tourism recovered in 2004, following the post-September 11, 2001 recession,
and continued to grow in 2005, making up more than 48% of St. Lucia's GDP.
The hotel and restaurant industry grew by 6.3% during 2005. Stay-over
arrivals increased by 6.5%, and the United States remained the most important
market, accounting for 35.4% of these arrivals. Yacht passengers rose by
21.9%. Redeployment of cruise ships, remedial berth construction, and high
fuel costs prevented higher growth rates. However, several investors have
planned new tourism projects for the island, including a large hotel and
resort in the southern part of the island.

St. Lucia's currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional
currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the EC$, manages monetary
policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its
member countries. The ECCB has kept the EC$ pegged at EC$2.7=U.S. $1.

St. Lucia is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative and is a
member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). The country
hosts the headquarters of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
(OECS).

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Historically, the major thrust of foreign affairs for St. Lucia has been
economic development. The government is seeking balanced international
relations with emphasis on mutual economic cooperation and trade and
investment. It seeks to conduct its foreign policy chiefly through its
membership in the OECS. St. Lucia participated in the 1983 Grenada mission,
sending members of its Special Services Unit into active duty. St. Lucia is a
member of the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States (OAS), and
the United Nations. It maintains friendly relations with the major powers
active in the Caribbean, including the United States, the United Kingdom,
Canada, and France. St. Lucia has been active in eastern Caribbean regional
affairs through the OECS and CARICOM.

U.S.-ST. LUCIAN RELATIONS
The United States and St. Lucia have a cooperative relationship. The United
States supports the St. Lucian Government's efforts to expand its economic
base and improve the lives of its citizens. The Government of St. Lucia has
cooperated with the United States on security concerns. U.S. assistance is
primarily channeled through multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank,
and the USAID office in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps, whose Eastern
Caribbean regional headquarters is located in St. Lucia, has 22 volunteers in
St. Lucia, working primarily in business development, education, and health.
U.S. security assistance programs provide limited training to the
paramilitary Special Services Unit and the coast guard. In addition, St.
Lucia receives U.S. counternarcotics assistance and benefits from U.S.
military exercises and humanitarian civic action construction projects.

St. Lucia and the United States share interest in combating international
crime and narcotics trafficking. Because of St. Lucia's geographical
location, it is an appealing transit point for traffickers. In response to
this threat, the Government of St. Lucia has concluded various bilateral
treaties with the United States, including a Maritime Law Enforcement
Agreement (subsequently amended to include overflight and order-to-land
provisions), a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, and an Extradition Treaty.

More Americans visit St. Lucia than any other national group. In 2005,
tourist visitors totaled over 700,000, mainly from the United States, the
United Kingdom, and CARICOM. Cruise ship arrivals in 2005 were down by 18%
over 2004, while the number of stay-over visitors increased slightly in the
same period.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Mary M. Ourisman
Deputy Chief of Mission--Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
Political/Economic Counselor--Martina Strong (Acting)
Consul General--Clyde Howard Jr.
Regional Labor Attaché--Martina Strong
Economic/Commercial Affairs--Anthony Eterno
Public Affairs Officer--Julie O'Reagan
Peace Corps Director--Kate Raftery

The United States maintains no diplomatic presence in St. Lucia. The
Ambassador and Embassy officers are resident in Barbados and frequently
travel to St. Lucia.

The U.S. Embassy in Barbados is located in the Wildey Business Park, Wildey,
St. Michael (tel: 246-436-4950; fax: 246-429-5246).

Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/
Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security
conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
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