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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country Facts

Area: 620 sq km
Population: 165595 (est 2010 Census)
Capital City: Castries
Languages: English is the official and commercial language but a broken French or patois (known as Kweyol) is also widely spoken.
Religion(s): The principal denominations are Roman Catholic, (93%), Anglican, Methodist and Baptist. There are also small Jewish, Hindu and Muslim minorities.
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (EC$) which is pegged at EC$ 2.70 to US$1.00
Major political parties: United Workers Party (UWP), Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP)
Government: A Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. There are two chambers, the 17 member House of Assembly, whose members are elected for five-year terms, and the 11-Member Senate, whose members are nominated (six by the Prime Minister, three by the Leader of the opposition, two by the Governor General).
Head of State: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy
Prime Minister: Hon Dr Kenny Anthony
Foreign Minister: Hon Alva Baptiste
Membership of international groups/organisations: ACCT (associate), ACP, C, CARICOM, CDB, CFATF, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO

Did You Know?

-- St Lucia boasts more Nobel Laureates per head of population than any other country - Derek Walcott (Laureate for Literature in 1992) and Sir Arthur Lewis (Laureate for Economics in 1979)

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HEALTH

Life expectancy: 76.8 years (2011 est World Factbook)
Infant mortality rate (WHO est.): 14 deaths per 1000 live births

HIV/AIDS

The incidence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean region is second only to sub-Sahara Africa. Heterosexual transmission is the largest known mode of infection (25%). It is officially accepted that reported cases represent only 20- 25% of the true estimate of HIV/AIDS infection in St Lucia.

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ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

GDP (official exchange rate): US$ 985m (World Factbook 20109 est)
Annual growth: 0.8% ( World Factbook 2010 est)
Inflation: 1.9% 2010 (SLU 2011 budget address)
Major industries: Tourism, construction, light manufacturing (clothing, assembly of electronic components, beverages, corrugated cardboard boxes, lime processing, coconut processing), financial services.
Agricultural products: Bananas, coconuts, vegetables, citrus, root crops, cocoa, nutmeg.
Major trading partners: UK, United States, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados
St Lucia's economy was traditionally reliant on its agricultural sector. However, the banana industry has declined over the last 10-15 years with the erosion of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries' preferential access to the EU market and increasing competition from Latin American producers. As in other Windward Island banana producing countries, a large number of farmers have been displaced over this period. Banana exports fell to 30,000 tonnes in 2005 from a peak of 132,000 tonnes in 1992. Nevertheless, St Lucia continues to be the leading Windward Island banana producer, accounting for around half of Windward banana exports in recent yearsars.

In 2010 following a severe drought and Hurricane Tomas banana production fell by around 31% to approximately 26,000 tonnes. Hurricane Tomas also caused heavy siltation of land used for cultivation.

In recent years, tourism has replaced bananas as the main earner of foreign exchange. In addition to land-based tourism, St Lucia is a prime yachting centre and cruise destination. The tourism industry recorded strong growth in 2010, with the number of stay over visitors increasing by 9.9 percent to a record 305,937. attributable to increases from the US, Canadian and German markets. US market in particular performed extremely well, growing by 31 percent. Arrivals from the UK and the Caribbean, Saint Lucia’s second and third largest markets, were down by 6 and 10 percent respectively (SLU 2011 budget address).

Construction activity has slowed down with work stopping on a number of new hotel developments citing difficulty obtaining financing. However, 2010 saw an expansion of 20% driven mainly by public sector projects. St Lucia's small manufacturing sector is among the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean, but is threatened by competition from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados. In 2010 total public-sector debt was 64.8% of GDP. In an effort to seek an additional source of revenue, the St Lucia Ministry of Finance, in November 2008, established a unit to consider proposals for a value-added tax (VAT).

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HISTORY

The island was first settled by Arawak Indians around 200 AD but by 800 AD their culture had been superseded by an early Amerindian group known as the Caribs. The Caribs called the island 'Iouanalao' and 'Hewanorra', meaning 'Island of the Iguanas'. The first European to discover Saint Lucia was Juan de la Cosa, who had at one time served as Columbus's navigator (it is generally believed that Columbus did not set foot on Saint Lucia, but merely sailed close by). The first European settlement was in the 1550s by the buccaneer Francois le Clerc (aka Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg). Around 1600 the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort. However, two attempts by English colonists, in 1605 and 1639, ended in failure as the resident Caribs forced the colonists to flee. By the mid 17th century the French arrived and 'purchased' the island for the French West India Company. Anglo-French rivalry for the island continued for more than a century and a half, with the island changing hands a total of 14 times. The island's first settlements were all French, beginning with Soufrière in 1746. By 1780, 12 settlements and a large number of sugar plantations had been established. Two years earlier, the British launched their first invasion effort at the 'Battle of Cul de Sac'. By 1814, after a prolonged series of battles, the island was finally ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris. Self-government with Associated State Status was achieved in 1967 and independence followed on 22 February 1979. St Lucia is part of the Commonwealth.

BBC News Country Timeline: St Lucia (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1210000/1210528.stm)

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Relations with Neighbours

St Lucia is a member of CARICOM and also of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), whose Secretariat is in Castries. The UWP government has stated its commitment to deeper regional integration.

Relations with the International Community

Apart from the UK, France, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Libya and Taiwan have resident diplomatic representation in St Lucia. All offer varying levels of assistance to the St Lucian government. Healthy relationships with, inter alia, the United States, Canada and Japan are managed remotely from regional diplomatic missions.

Relations with Taiwan were resumed in April 2007, following which China announced the suspension of relations with St Lucia.

Relations with the UK

The United Kingdom and St Lucia share an excellent bilateral relationship. Historical links are strong; many St Lucians have lived in the UK or have relatives there; and 80,000 British visitors holiday in St Lucia each year. The two governments work closely together in a number of areas with a focus on joint efforts to eradicate drug trafficking and abuse. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited St Lucia in March 2008 as part of a regional Caribbean tour promoting sustainable development, environmental protection, youth opportunity and education. The Governor General and Former Prime Minister and Mrs King attended the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. FCO Minister Jeremy Browne, met with Foreign Minster Alva Baptiste, during the UK-Caribbean Forum in Grenada in January 2012.

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GEOGRAPHY

St Lucia is one of the Windward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, 21 miles south of Martinique and 26 miles north of St Vincent. The island is volcanic and famous for its twin 'pitons'(now a world heritage site) and the sulphur Springs at Soufrière. There is 158km of coastline. The interior is mountainous with heavy vegetation, including some rainforest. Daytime temperatures vary little throughout the year, ranging from 26-30C. The tropical climate is moderated by the north-east Trade Winds, particularly during the drier winter months. The island lies in the hurricane belt and tropical storms and hurricanes can occur during May to November. Geographic Co-ordinates: 13 53 N, 60 68 W.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and Investment with the UK

Total UK exports to St Lucia for 2010 were EC$29,266 million and imports from St Lucia were EC$7,656 million (GOSL). The accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is well established. The main telecommunications services provider is Cable and Wireless (West Indies) Ltd (recently renamed LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile, Entertainment), though with liberalisation of the telecommunications sector others have entered the market. Halcrow have been heavily involved in road constructions and flood mitigation works for many years, while the Vieux Fort to Soufriere road project, completed in 2005, was undertaken by Lagan Holdings of Belfast. There is British involvement in the tourism sector through Rex Hotels, Hotel Chocolat, residential and marina development.

UK Development Assistance

The Department for International Development (DFID) has a substantial regional programme in the Caribbean with three strategic priorities; security and governance; wealth creation; and helping vulnerable coastal communities from the impact of climate change. St Lucia will benefit from this new regional programme which hopes to create thousands of new jobs and enable over two hundred thousand people to better cope with the effects of climate change and natural disasters.

Department for International Development (DFID) (http://www.dfid.gov.uk)

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POLITICS

Elections took place in St Lucia on 28th November 2011. Following a closely-fought contest, which involved several recounts in marginal constituencies, the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) emerged victorious over the incumbent United Workers’ Party (UWP), winning by 11 seats to 6. The Honourable Dr Kenny Anthony was sworn in as Prime Minister for the third time by the Governor General on 1 December 2011.

In recent years, St Lucia has seen escalating violent crime, much of it linked to a growing gang-culture driven by the illicit drugs trade. In 2010 a record number of 48 homicides were recorded and by the beginning of June 2011 there were 30 homicides including 11 police shootings. Tackling crime is a high priority for the SLP Government.

In February 2011, under the previous UWP Government, the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) launched “Operation Restore Confidence” targeting communities that are most affected by crime. . There have also been calls for the return of the death penalty for convicted murderers.

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Last Updated: February 2012

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