St Lucia is one of the most scenic islands in the Caribbean. The volcanic landscape of the island is dotted with beautiful bays and peaks.
Visitors can also enjoy a variety of sports such as hiking, mountain biking and sea kayaking. The best time to visit is from May to October, when the weather is warm and dry. However, the island is not completely safe from hurricanes due to its southerly latitude, so it’s recommended to check local forecasts before planning your trip.
Throughout the year, St Lucia is home to festivals, including the annual Arts and Heritage Festival in October and August’s Roots and Jazz Festival. In addition, Gros Islet hosts Friday night street parties that offer a blend of music, food and culture.
The cuisine of St Lucia is heavily influenced by European, East Indian and West African traditions. Callaloo soup, which is made with spinach (callaloo), coconut milk, okra, potatoes and garlic, is a popular dish. Other staples include curried meats, fish broths, macaroni pie, stew chicken and roti, which is a flatbread of Indian origin. In addition, St Lucia’s fruit is a major ingredient in many dishes.
In the 20th century, a progressive increase in self-government was observed on the island. In 1924, a constitution established the first elected legislature in the region, and universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1951. During the period of increasing autonomy, Saint Lucia became part of the short-lived West Indies Federation. It was later incorporated into the British Windward Islands administration, based in Barbados.
After the abolition of slavery in 1834, the majority of the population was of African ethnicity; those of Carib descent made up a small minority. A majority of the people were Roman Catholics, and a French patois is still spoken by some inhabitants.
Today, the island has a stable economy. The majority of employment is in agriculture and services, while a small number of workers are employed in the tourism industry. The island is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Politically, the country is a parliamentary democracy. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by a governor general, but actual power lies with the prime minister and cabinet.
The current prime minister is Sir John Compton of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP). Dr Kenny Anthony, a former CARICOM official, leads the opposition United Workers Party. In elections held in December 2001, the SLP won 14 of the 17 seats in parliament, while UWP leader Morella Joseph failed to win a seat. The UWP has since merged with the Democratic Unionist Party to form a new opposition alliance. In May 2005, the island celebrated its 150th anniversary of independence from Great Britain. Its capital is Castries. The island’s most historic attractions are Pigeon Island National Park, Diamond Mineral Baths and the Soufriere Estate, which includes a mansion, botanical gardens and a sugar mill.