St Lucia facts!
Explore this awesome Caribbean island…
Join us, gang, as we head to the Caribbean to discover this tropical island’s volcano and rainforest in our St Lucia facts!
St Lucia facts
OFFICIAL NAME: Saint Lucia
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Democratic constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English, though many residents speak in Saint Lucian French Creole
MONEY: Eastern Caribbean dollar
AREA: 238 square miles (616 square kilometres)
MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Gros Piton and Petit Piton; they are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge
HIGHEST PEAK: Mount Gimie (950m)
VOLCANO: La Soufrière (also known as La Grande Soufrière or Qualibou)
St Lucia’s geography
St Lucia is one of more than 7,000 individual islands, including 13 sovereign nations, that make up the Caribbean.
The Eastern Caribbean island of St Lucia is part of a chain of volcanic islands known as the Lesser Antilles. St Lucia is famous for its geothermal activity! Heat from the Earth’s core creates natural hot pools and bubbling mud springs that attract tourists looking to relax in a natural bath! St Lucia’s volcano, La Soufrière, last erupted in 1766 and is now considered dormant.
St Lucia may only be a small island – 43 kilometres long and a maximum of 23 kilometres wide (covering 16 square kilometres in total) – but its landscape is varied. There are volcanic beaches, reef-diving sites, luxury holiday resorts and fishing villages, and 76 square kilometres of lush rainforest.
St Lucian people & culture
The island of St Lucia is known for its pair of pointy mountains, the Pitons, on its west coast. The west coast, where the capital city Castries is found, is met by the lapping Caribbean Sea and is known for its epic scuba diving! The east coast of the island meets the choppier Atlantic Ocean.
The entire population of St Lucia is about 178,000 people. Over the centuries, this island has attracted settlers from all over the world, making it culturally rich. A wide range of religions, music, languages and cuisines can be found here (yum!).
Most people are descended from native Amerindians (mainly from Portugal), native Caribs and European settlers (mainly from France). During the 19th century, waves of travellers from Europe, the Middle East, and even Japan settled in the Carribean.
St Lucia was previously called Iyonola by the native Amerindians, and later, Hewanorra, a name given to the island by the native Caribs.
Although English is the official language of St Lucia, a larger percentage of people speak a French dialect known as Creole – a legacy left by early French settlers on the island.
Every October, the island celebrates Creole Heritage Month, a mix of colourful street parties, art exhibitions, music, theatre, talks, and delicious food. The celebration marks the end of the St Lucia Summer Festival and is a time for St Lucian’s to celebrate their heritage.
DID YOU KNOW?
St Lucia’s previous names, Iyonola and Hewanorra, mean “island of the iguanas”.
St Lucia’s history
The French were the first Europeans to settle on the island. In 1660, they signed a peace treaty with the native island Caribs, agreeing to live in harmony. But just a few years on, from 1663 to 1667, England took control of the island.
In the following years, St Lucia was much fought over by the French and the English – each ruled the island seven times! In fact, St Lucia switched so often between English and French control, it became known as the “Helen of the West Indies”, after the Greek mythological character, Helen of Troy.
During the 18th-century, Pigeon Island, a small offshore island on the west coast, became a military centre point – the perfect spot for the British to spy on French ships! In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island, and in 1972 Pigeon Island was artificially joined to the mainland by a man-made causeway.
St Lucia’s government & economy
A member of the Commonwealth, St Lucia’s government operates within a democratic constitutional monarchy, meaning Queen Elizabeth II is the country’s Head of State.
The Queen is represented by a Governor General, who acts on the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet, which are elected as an independent parliament.
St Lucia’s economy depends primarily on tourism and banana production, with some contribution from small-scale manufacturing.
St Lucia’s wildlife & nature
The national bird of St Lucia is the Saint Lucian Parrot (the Amazona versicolor), which is one of five native parrot species and 157 bird species that live on the island. As many as 45 of these species can be found in the rainforest, including three species of hummingbirds – the Antillean Crested Hummingbird, the Purple-throated Carib and the Green-throated Carib.
St Lucia is well-known for its vast variety of birdlife and marine life, such as dolphins, whales and sea turtles, but it also has some surprising native wildlife species, such as the agouti; a member of the rodent family, as well as mongooses, opossum, bats and feral pigs.
The largest wild animal on the island is actually a species of wild boar. Despite St Lucia’s many birds, it has only one sky predator; the chicken hawk.
There also are four snake species on the island: the worm snake, the St Lucia lance head (the fer de lance, a viper), the St Lucia racer and the St Lucia boa constrictor, as well as 12 species of lizard, including the St Lucia whiptail lizard – discovered in 1958, it’s regarded as one of the rarest lizards in the world!