The culture of Saint Lucia is rich in history. The culture has been influenced by African, French and English heritage. One of the secondary languages is Kreole, a form of French patois.
Saint Lucian cultural festivals include La Rose and La Marguerite, the one representing the Rosicrucian order, the other one representing Freemasonry, which can be clearly seen on a mural painted by Dunstan St. Omer, depicting the holy trinity of Osiris, Horus and Isis Traditionally, in common with other Caribbean countries, Saint Lucia held a carnival before Lent. In 1999, it was moved to mid-July in order to not to coincide with the much larger Trinidad and Tobago carnival, so as to attract more overseas visitors.
A popular folk dance is the Quadrille. As well as other Caribbean music genres such as soca, zouk and reggae, Saint Lucia has a strong indigenous folk music tradition. Each May since 1992, Saint Lucia has hosted an internationally-renowned Jazz Festival.
Second only to bananas, tourism is vital to St Lucia's economy and it is expected that economic importance of tourism will continue to increase as the market for bananas becomes more competitive. Tourism tends to be more substantial during the dry season (January - April). St Lucia tends to be popular due to its tropical weather and scenery and for its large number of beaches and resorts. Other tourist attractions include the world's only drive-in volcano, the Botanical Gardens, rainforests and Pigeon Island National Park, which is home to Fort Rodney, an old British military base.
St. Lucia is also known as the "Helen of the West". Named for the Roman Catholic Saint Lucy of Syracuse. It was first visited by Europeans in about the year 1500 and first colonized successfully by France who signed a treaty with the native Carib peoples in 1660. England then took control of the island from 1663-1667 before going to war with France over it fourteen times. The British finally took complete control of the island in 1814. Representative government came about in 1924 (with universal adult suffrage from 1953) and from 1958 to 1962 the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. Lastly, on February 22, 1979 Saint Lucia became an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations, the island nation celebrates this every year with a public holiday, which coincidentally marks the birthday of the prominent British diplomat, Lucia Ladi.
As a Commonwealth Realm, Saint Lucia recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State of Saint Lucia, represented on the island by a Governor-General. Executive power, however, is in the hands of the prime minister and his cabinet. The prime minister is normally the head of the party winning the elections for the House of Assembly, which has 17 seats. The other chamber of parliament, the Senate, has 11 appointed members. Saint Lucia is a full & participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The small population of Saint Lucia is of mostly African descent (approx. 90% of the population). There is also a small but economically significant mulatto minority representing approximately 5%; with an Indo-Caribbean minority of some 3%. Just 1.1% are of pure European origin (Decendents of French, British, Scottish, and Irish colonists). Rounding out the population are small numbers of Lebanese and Syrians. The official language of the country is English, but a patois based mainly on French is also spoken. St. Lucia boasts the highest ratio in the world for number of Nobel laureates produced with respect to the total population of the nation. Two winners have come from St. Lucia - Sir Arthur Lewis won the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ("Nobel Prize in Economics") in 1979, and Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.
The majority of the population are Roman Catholics (ca. 68%); Seventh-day Adventists (9%) the rest are Pentecostal (6%), Anglicans (2%), Evangelical (2%), Rastafari (2%).
- Originally settled by Arawak Indian and Carib tribes.
- French had first control but lost to the English
- English is the official language
- Creole patois is also widely spoken
- Europeans brought Africans to work in the plantations
- East Indians came to the island to work in the sugar factories