St. Lucia (pronounced “loo-sha”), “The Helen of the West Indies,” lies roughly between 60° and 61° West longitude and between 13° and 14° North latitude. St. Vincent & The Grenadines lie to the South, the island of Martinique is to the North. The U.S. state of Florida is approximately 1,300 miles (2,100km) to the Northwest.
The island-nation is is 238 square miles (616km2). At the largest points, the island is 27 miles (44km) long and 13 miles (21km) across. The population is around 164,000. Castries (pronounced “Cast-ree”) is the largest city and capital, with a population of around 50,000.
Other major cities are Soufrière (French for “Sulphur Mine” and home to the world’s only “drive-in” volcano. It’s pronounced “Soo-free-air”) and Vieux-Fort (French for “Old Fort” and home of Hewanorra, our international airport)
The terrain of St. Lucia is mountainous rainforest, with some broad valleys. We’re a major supplier of bananas to the European Union, but tourism is of our biggest industry.
Although an independent nation since 1979, the traditional head of state is Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Dame Pearlette Louisy. The Prime Minister is Kenneth Anthony. Our government is a parliamentary democracy, similar to that of Canada or Australia. English is our official language, though French dialects are still heard. That’s not surprising, since the 1700’s, we changed hands between England and France 14 times! We use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$ for short), which is valued at approximately US$0.37 (or €0,28). Don’t worry if you only have U.S. dollars, though, as they’re widely accepted.
Our flag was designed by Dunstan St. Omer. The light (“cerulean”) blue represent the sky and the ocean around us. The black and white represent our diversity of people living in harmony. The gold represents the warm Caribbean sunshine. The triangles represent the Pitons, among the most beautiful sights in all of the Caribbean. The flag was recently changed. The previous design, was almost identical, except that the blue was darker (more of a “royal blue” colour). You’ll still see the older flag in widespread use around the island.