A Caribbean island in the heart of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, St Lucia has long been a tourist destination. The country is renowned for its beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails, and volcanic vistas. St Lucia also has a very rich culture, including its musical traditions and Carnival celebrations. It is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

A constitutional monarchy, Saint Lucia is ruled by a governor general who represents Queen Elizabeth II, head of state, and a prime minister who heads the cabinet. The bicameral parliament has 17 elected members of the House of Assembly and 11 appointed members of the Senate. The governor general appoints the leader of the majority party as prime minister. The judicial system has district courts, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeal), and final appeal to the Privy Council in London.

The official language is English, but most Saint Lucians speak a creole French patois, which has strong roots in the region’s Amerindian heritage. The majority of the population is Christian; nearly ninety percent are Roman Catholics, reflecting early French influence. Other religions include Protestant and Jewish. The population is predominantly urban, with a small minority of rural inhabitants.

St Lucia’s economy is primarily services based, with tourism as the chief contributor. The main exports are bananas, coconut products, cardboard cartons, and clothing. Imports include fuel, food, and other manufactured goods. The country has an international airport at Vieux Fort, and a port complex at Castries handles regional and Caribbean shipping lines.

Education is free and compulsory for all children up to age 14. The majority of the population are Catholic. A number of primary and secondary schools are run by religious orders. There is a university of the West Indies campus at Castries and several private colleges and technical schools.

Almost a third of Saint Lucia’s population is under age 15. There are more than 12,000 students at the University of the West Indies in Saint Lucia. Other institutions of higher learning include Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, Heineken Caribbean Institute of Management and Technology, and St Mary’s College of the Sacred Heart.

The Saint Lucia Arts Festival is a biannual event that presents music, dance, and other cultural performances. Other festivals throughout the year showcase music, crafts, and other local products. A popular summer event is the Carnival of the Kings and Queens, which features a street parade with masquerades and dancing.

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