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What Should I Know About Saint Lucia?

Cruise ships regularly make port in Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia offers any scuba diving opportunities.
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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Saint Lucia is an island nation in the Caribbean, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. it covers 240 square miles (620 sq. km), making it roughly a quarter of the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Saint Lucia was first settled by the Arawaks sometime in the 2nd century. Beginning in the 8th century Caribs began appearing on the island, displacing the Arawaks over time, and developing their own fairly developed settlements there.

In the late 15th century, the Spanish became the first Europeans to discover Saint Lucia. In the mid-16th century a French pirate frequented the island as a stopover point on his raids of European trade ships. By the beginning of the 17th century there was interest by a number of European powers to set up outposts on the island, and the English, French, and Dutch all tried. Their new outposts met with substantial resistance from the Caribs, who would raid the new settlements until eventually driving the settlers away. After a number of false starts, the French and English both gave up trying to settle the island, and instead traded it back and forth for decades as a mostly empty island.

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By the 18th century the island had been mostly subdued, and by the latter part of the century the British and French had taken a renewed interest in Saint Lucia as a potential site for sugar cultivation. The French declared slavery abolished following the French Revolution, and the British soon invaded again, eventually gaining undisputed control of the island in the early 19th century.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Saint Lucia began to move towards autonomy and independence. In 1924 the island formed a Constitution, and universal suffrage was instituted in 1951. Saint Lucia was a part of the West Indies Federation in the late 1950s, until the federation collapsed. From the late 1960s through the 1970s Saint Lucia was an associated state of the United Kingdom, giving it complete autonomy over all internal politics. This helped prepare the country for independence, which was achieved in 1979, as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations with Queen Elizabeth II as Monarch.

Saint Lucia has a fairly well-developed tourist infrastructure, and is a popular destination in the Caribbean. The beaches, snorkeling, and diving are the primary draw for most tourists, as in most Caribbean nations, but a number of other notable attractions exist as well. The Saint Lucian Botanical Gardens offer a beautiful immersion into the flora of the Caribbean, and Pigeon Island National Park is a beautifully preserved region that includes the remnants of an old British military base.

Flights arrive regularly in Castries from other Caribbean nations, with some direct flights from a handful of cities in the United States. Cruise ships also regularly make port at Saint Lucia, and yachting from nearby islands makes for a fun and beautiful trip.

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