Saint Lucia is a small island that has experienced many different cultures through the centuries. These influences have led to a diverse range of religions, music and food.
The cuisine of St Lucia is unique, with a blend of French and Creole, West African and East Indian influences. The fertile volcanic soil of the island yields an abundance of fruit and vegetables. Bananas, in particular, are popular, and they can be found on almost every menu, alongside papaya, mangoes, coconuts, soursops, guavas, passion fruit and star fruit.
These fruits and vegetables are often cooked into hearty stews and curries, with a variety of herbs and spices used. The country is a major seafood exporter and dishes feature lobsters (although these aren’t the clawed varieties that are eaten in colder climates), crab, fish and shellfish. Breadfruit, a staple of Caribbean cuisine, can be enjoyed in salads or cooked into a tasty snack. It grows on a local tree and can be boiled or fried into balls.
In addition to seafood, other common staples include rice and peas, fried plantains and root crops such as sweet potatoes. The cuisine also includes a number of meats, including chicken and oxtail.
A smattering of European and Amerindian traditions have influenced the island’s culture, too. These influences can be seen in the local language, which is a combination of English and French, as well as a variety of indigenous languages such as Seseli, Tamarind and Jèrrit. Many of the island’s most important landmarks date from the 17th and 18th centuries. These include Pigeon Island National Park, the Diamond Mineral Baths in Soufriere, and Fort Rodney.
The country has a parliamentary system with a Governor General and a Prime Minister. The executive branch of government is the House of Assembly, which has 17 elected members representing constituencies. The government has a majority in the lower house and is led by the Prime Minister, who is normally the leader of the largest political party. It has an independent judiciary and a free-market economy that is among the world’s most advanced. The government is primarily financed through taxes on goods and services. The national currency is the East Caribbean Dollar. The government’s primary goal is to maintain stability and growth. The country is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Its economy is the fastest growing in the Caribbean. The government has made substantial investments in infrastructure and education, and its health care system is well-developed. It is ranked highly for business freedom by the Index of Economic Freedom. However, corruption is a problem.