Saint Lucia has a diverse cultural heritage, influenced by the indigenous people of the Caribbean, Africans brought to work on sugar plantations and European settlers. Those influences are seen in the cuisine, which is a mix of French, East Indian and British dishes. The main religion is Christianity, with most St Lucians identifying as Roman Catholics. Other religious groups include those following Rastafari and others who do not identify with any specific faith.
The twin peaks of the Piton Mountains and exotic plants are the most iconic images of St Lucia, but this beautiful island has many more attractions to offer visitors. Some of the most popular activities are snorkeling in the crystal clear waters around the island, or exploring the tropical rainforest on a guided hiking tour. Visitors can also visit the Diamond Mineral Baths, Soufriere Estate (including a restored mansion, botanical gardens and sugar mill) and Morne Coubaril.
In terms of natural beauty, St Lucia is unrivalled in the Caribbean, with its lush forests, stunning beaches and extinct volcanic craters like the Sulphur Springs. The island is also home to a number of endemic wildlife species, including agoutis (a rodent that’s actually part of the monkey family), mongooses, opossums and bats.
The country’s main economic activity is tourism, and visitors will find the island is a popular destination for romantic getaways. The majority of Saint Lucians are descendants of African slaves who worked on sugar plantations, and those influences can be seen in the architecture and culture of the island. The official language is English, but the vast majority of Saint Lucians also speak St Lucian French Creole, or patois.
St Lucia has a relatively high GDP per capita, and was one of the fastest growing economies in the world until 2010, when the global financial crisis hit. However, the economy has since recovered and is now thriving.
Education on the island is primarily public, with international schools and private colleges also available in major towns. In terms of tertiary education, St Lucia is served by four universities, all of which are based on British educational standards.
The currency on the island is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. The most commonly used credit cards are Visa and MasterCard. The local phone code is 59. Visitors should note that driving is on the left-hand side of the road.
Those interested in learning more about the culture of St Lucia should make sure to visit the capital, Castries. The city center is busy and vibrant, with many of the locals shopping at the Castries Market or the Arcade. This is a great place to buy fresh produce, spices, cocoa tea and even random Knick Knacks to take back home.
The island’s cuisine is a mixture of West African, French and East Indian dishes. St Lucians are especially fond of stewed chicken backs, which are served with rice and plantains or yam. Seafood is another staple of St Lucian cuisine, with lobsters being particularly popular.