St Lucian women
St Lucia which is the second largest of the Windward group in the Lesser Antilles, was called the island "Iouanalao" and "Hewanorra," meaning "Island of the Iguanas," by its early Amerindian inhabitants. However, Saint Lucia was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, the island's first European settlers. They signed a treaty with the native Carib Indians in 1660. Britain took control of the island from 1663 to 1667; in ensuing years, it was at war with France 14 times and rule of the island changed frequently (it was seven times each ruled by the French and British). In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island. Because it switched so often between British and French control, Saint Lucia was also known as the "Helen of the West Indies".
Island kids of St Lucia
The majority of St Lucia population are blacks from Africa, particularly West Africa. "As of 2013, people of African descent are the majority ethnic group in Saint Lucia, accounting for 82.5% of the country's population. An additional 11.9% of the country is multiracial, predominantly of mixed black African and white European descent or East Indian descent."
The blacks came to the St Lucia as slaves during the Trans Atlantic Slave trade. Most of the slaves imported to Saint Lucia were from the Bight of Biafra (it was here that Europeans imported more of 3,000 slaves to archipelago, the 53% of the slaves. To Saint Lucia arrived many Igbos and Yorubas slaves of Nigeria) and from Central Africa (more of 1,000 slaves, the 22% of the slaves of the archipelago). In Saint Lucian also arrived hundreds of slaves from the current Senegal (Mandinka and Wolof), Sierra Leone (although they constitute only 4.4% of the slaves of the island, a 287 people), Ghana (the 4% of the slaves, a 279 people), Benin (from the Bight of Benin arrived the 6% of the slaves, a 392 people), Windward Coast (constituted only 3.9% of the slaves of the island) and Angola (Ambundus). Akan slaves also arrived in Santa Lucia. They were probably also exported people from some ethnic groups dominated by the Mandinka Empire - such as Dyola and Manjak and other groups.
Between 1600-1700, most of the slaves came from Senegambia. These slaves were mainly used as servants. Meanwhile, Ewe and Fon slaves, from the Slave Coast, exerted as rural slaves. The ethno-linguistic dominance of specific groups in certain areas of work, had a great importance in the origin of Creole identity. In addition, St. Lucia probably bought many slaves to Martinique.
" I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall we turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue we love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can we face such slaughter and be cool? How can we turn from Africa and live?"
An old lady from St Lucia
St. Lucia's culture has evolved from the intermingling of the many different groups of people who have participated in its history. Each has brought different beliefs and traditions, all of which are reflected in the life of the island today. A visitor is likely to drive on the British side of the road to an Indian restaurant in a French town, greeted all along the way in Creole patois.
One of the most accessible expressions of St. Lucia's rich cultural heritage is its cuisine. The fertile, volcanic soil of the island yields an enormous supply of produce, and the island is one of the leading banana exporters in the Caribbean, with six different varieties available. In addition to bananas, St. Lucia's abundant tropical fruits include mangoes, papayas, pineapples, soursops, passionfruit, guavas, and coconuts. Local chefs combine the island's fresh produce with a wide variety of equally fresh seafood to create tantalizing curries, Creole-style entrees, and pepperpot stews. Callaloo soup, made from a leafy green similar to spinach, is the national dish. The island's outstanding cuisine has recently gained international recognition by garnering several gold medals in the regions most prestigious culinary competitions.
But St. Lucia's culture extends far beyond the table, as the island has long held a reputation for its intellectual and artistic talents. St. Lucia has produced two Nobel Prizewinners: the late Sir W. Arthur Lewis, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979, and poet Derek Walcott, who won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Politically, Saint Lucia is a Commonwealth realm; Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, 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 commanding the support of the majority of the members of the House of Assembly, which has 17 seats. The other chamber of Parliament, the Senate, has 11 appointed members.
Saint Lucia is a two-party parliamentary democracy. Five political parties participated in 28 November 2011 General Election. Dr Kenny Anthony of the St Lucia Labour Party won eleven of the seventeen seats.
Saint Lucia is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and La Francophonie.
St Lucian girl
The island is of volcanic origin and is bisected from north to south by a central ridge of wooded mountains, the highest point being Mount Gimie (3,145 feet [958.6 metres]). Many streams flow from the mountains through fertile valleys. In the southwest are the Gros and Petit peaks (2,619 feet and 2,461 feet), two immense pyramids of rock rising sharply from the sea and enclosing a small bay. Near Petit Peak, in the crater of an ancient volcano, are the boiling sulphur springs from which the nearby town of Soufrière takes its name. A choice tourist site, the springs also contain substantial energy potential.
The forest, which has been reduced through lumbering, contains colourful orchids and anthurium. The rich birdlife includes the Saint Lucian parrot (the endangered national bird), the Saint Lucia black finch, and the Saint Lucia oriole. There is also a lizard unique to Saint Lucia, and the agouti is common.
Saint Lucia lies in the path of the northeastern trade winds and has a tropical maritime climate. Rainfall and temperature vary with elevation. Average annual rainfall ranges from 51 inches (1,295 millimetres) on the coast to as much as 150 inches (3,810 millimetres) in the interior. There is a dry season roughly from January to April and a rainy season from May to November. The mean temperature is about 80° F (27° C), with highs sometimes ranging into the upper 80s and lows into the upper 60s.
t. Lucia in the Southern Caribbean nestled in a chain of islands
The official language spoken in Saint Lucia is English although many Saint Lucians also speak a French dialect, Creole (Kwéyòl). The Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl), which is a French-based Creole colloquially referred to as "Patwah" (Patois), is spoken by 95% of the population. This Antillean Creole is used in literature and music, and is gaining official acknowledgement. It is derived chiefly from French and West African languages, with some vocabulary from Carib and other sources.
According to Garrett (2000), St. Lucia is different from most creole-speaking situations where the creole (basolect) is lexically related to the standard language (acrolect) yielding a range of speech varieties (mesolects) along a continuum. In fact, St. Lucia boasts two languages that are discrete, both lexically and grammatically (Garrett, 2000). There is the Standard English Language and there is also St Lucian Kwéyòl, which is listed among the Antillean group of creole languages along with creoles spoken in Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Trinidad and Tobago (Bickerton, 1981; Holm, 1988).
St. Lucia’s unusual situation is that although Kwéyòl is French-lexified, it currently co-exists with English rather than French (recall that St. Lucia was finally ceded to Britain). French Creole or Kwéyòl is the “pure” form of French Creole that has passed on from one generation to the next. The components are traceable either to French vocabulary, African structure, or a mixture of the two. Anglicized French Creole (moves away from Kwéyòl toward English) is an even more advanced form of creolization. It incorporates English words from the official language of the island with Kwéyòl. Creolized English (moves away from English toward Kwéyòl) is commonly referred to by other names like slang or broken English. And, finally, there is Standard English.
Carnival at St Lucia
St. Lucia was first settled by Arawak Indians around 200 A.D., though by 800 their culture had been superseded by that of the Caribs. The indigenous Kalinago (Caribs) who had originally settled on the islands across the Caribbean and were noted for the fierce resistance they mounted for more than a century against attempts at European colonization. These early Amerindian cultures called the island "Iouanalao" and "Hewanorra," meaning "Island of the Iguanas."
It was averred that Christopher Columbus had discovered St. Lucia in 1502, but recent evidence suggests that he merely sailed close by. An alternative discoverer is Juan de la Cosa, a lesser-known explorer who had served at one time as Columbus' navigator. There are some indications that de la Cosa may have discovered the island in 1499, although there is also evidence suggesting that he didn't find the island until 1504. In any case, there was no European presence established on the island until its settlement in the 1550s by the notorious buccaneer Francois le Clerc, a.k.a. Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg. Peg-Leg le Clerc set up a fine little base on Pigeon Island, from whence he issued forth to prey upon unwitting and treasure-laden Spanish galleons. Around 1600, the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort.
In 1605, an English vessel called the Olive Branch was blown off-course on its way to Guyana, and the 67 colonists started a settlement on Saint Lucia. After five weeks, only 19 survived, due to disease and conflict with the Caribs, so they fled the island. The French officially claimed the island in 1635 but it was the English who attempted the next European settlement in 1639, but that too was wiped out by the Caribs.
In 1643, a French expedition sent out from Martinique by Jacques Dyel du Parquet, the governor of Martinique, established a permanent settlement on the island. De Rousselan was appointed the island's governor, took a Carib wife and remained in post until his death in 1654.
In 1664, Thomas Warner (son of Sir Thomas Warner, the governor of St Kitts) claimed Saint Lucia for England. He brought 1,000 men to defend it from the French, but after two years, only 89 survived with the rest dying mostly due to disease. In 1666 the French West India Company resumed control of the island, which in 1674 was made an official French crown colony as a dependency of Martinique.
Both the British and the French found the island attractive after the sugar industry developed, and during the 18th century the island changed ownership or was declared neutral territory a dozen times, although the French settlements remained and the island was a de facto French colony well into the eighteenth century.
In 1722, George I of Great Britain granted both Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent to John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu. He in turn appointed Nathaniel Uring, a merchant sea captain and adventurer, as deputy-governor. The British imported enslaved Africans as workers. Caribbean conditions were harsh, and many African slaves, like the Caribs (also used as slaves in the island), died, requiring continued importation of new captives. The British continued to import slaves until they abolished the trade in 1808. By that time, people of ethnic African and less so Carib descent greatly outnumbered those of ethnic European background. Uring went to the islands with a group of seven ships, and established settlement at Petit Carenage. Unable to get enough support from British warships, he and the new colonists were quickly run off by the French.
During the Seven Years' War Britain occupied Saint Lucia for a year, but handed the island back to the French at the Treaty of Paris on 10 February 1763. Like the English and Dutch on other islands, the French began to develop the land for the cultivation of sugar cane as a commodity crop on large plantations in 1765.
When the French Revolution occurred, a revolutionary tribunal was sent to Saint Lucia, headed by captain La Crosse. Prior to this, the slaves had heard about the revolution and walked off their jobs in 1790-1791 to work for themselves. Bringing the ideas of the revolution to Saint Lucia, La Crosse set up a guillotine used to execute Royalists. In 1794, the French governor of the island declared that all slaves were free, as also happened In Saint-Domingue. However, the decree was unevenly carried out.
A short time later, the British invaded the island as a part of the recently broken out war with France. On 21 February 1795, a group of locals led by Victor Hugues, defeated a battalion of British troops. For the next four months, a group of recently freed slaves known as the Brigands forced out not only the British army, but every white slave-owner from the island (coloured slave owners were left alone, as in Haiti). In 1796 Castries was burned as part of the conflict. In 1803, the British finally regained control of the island. Many of the rebels escaped into the thick rain forests, where they evaded capture and established maroon communities.
The slavery on the island was continued for a short time, but anti-slavery sentiment was rising in Britain. The British stopped the import of slaves by anyone, white or colored, when they abolished the slave trade in 1807. In 1834 the institution of slavery was abolished on the island and throughout the British Empire. After abolition, all former slaves had to serve a four-year "apprenticeship," to use them to the idea of freedom. During this period, they worked for their former masters for at least three-quarters of the work week. Full freedom was duly granted by the British in 1838. By that time, people of African ethnicity greatly outnumbered those of ethnic European background. Some people of Carib descent also comprised a minority on the island.
Saint Lucia continued to be contested by France and Great Britain until the British secured it in 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris ending the Napoleonic Wars. Saint Lucia was considered part of the British Windward Islands colony.
In the mid-twentieth century, Saint Lucia joined the West Indies Federation (1958–1962) when the colony was dissolved. In 1967, Saint Lucia became one of the six members of the West Indies Associated States, with internal self-government. In 1979 it gained full independence under Sir John Compton of the conservative United Workers party (UWP), who served as prime minister from 1982 to 1996, after which he was succeeded by Vaughan Lewis.
Dr. Kenny Davis Anthony of the Labour Party was prime minister from 1997 to 2006. In 2006, the UWP, again led by Compton, won control of parliament. In May 2007, after Compton suffered a series of small strokes, Finance and External Affairs Minister Stephenson King became acting prime minister and succeeded Compton as prime minister when the latter died in September 2007. In November 2011, the Honorable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony was re-elected as prime minister for a third time.
Throughout Saint Lucia's colonial and post-colonial history, agricultural production has been export-oriented. More than some of its neighbors, Saint Lucia has undergone a series of booms and busts. Agricultural production under colonial rule focused on sugar cane, only giving way to bananas as a principal cash crop in the 1950s. Cane was grown under a number of systems—plantation, sharecropping ( metayage ), and smallholder—reflecting changing market conditions and capital investment over time. The shift to bananas opened up the market for large numbers of rural small producers, and ushered in an era of prosperity that lasted from 1960 to the early 1990s.
Other crops are coconuts, cacao, citrus and other fruit, spices, cassava, and yams. There is a steady local fishing industry.
Saint Lucia’s manufacturing sector has been a major beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative, a program designed to promote manufacturing in the region. An industrial free zone has been established in the south of the island near Vieux Fort; there factories produce and export electronic goods and toys. Other industries produce cardboard cartons, clothing, rum, tobacco products, coconut products, concrete blocks, and beer. Tourism has developed rapidly since 1970; in 1987 a complex for cruise ships was opened near Castries.
The chief exports are bananas, cardboard cartons, clothing, coconut products, and electronic goods. Almost three-fourths of Saint Lucia’s exports are to the United Kingdom and most of the rest to other Caribbean islands and to the United States. Imports include food, fuels, and manufactured goods.
There is an international airport at Vieux Fort, at the southern tip of the island, and a smaller airport at Vigie for domestic and regional flights. International shipping lines operate from the ports at Castries and Vieux Fort. In addition, there is an oil transshipment terminal near Castries.
Land Tenure System and Property
Saint Lucia still supports the institution known as "family land" ( té fami ). This is a tenure and transfer practice that exists outside the legal system, although it is partially supported by the old French legal system (the Napoleonic Code) which is still extant. Briefly, the principles of the system are these: land is held not individually, but communally by family members; transfer, when one dies intestate, is in undivided parcel to all descendants; sale is proscribed, that is, land is retained by the family; rights in land are inherited without legal division. Family land exists alongside individual tenure and land transfers are often accomplished through wills.
Division of Labor
The division of labor is very much like that of any modernizing economy, with workers hired based on skills and education.
The island's cuisine is a unique blend of West African, European (mainly British and French) and East Indian cuisine; this creates dynamic meal dishes such as Marconi pie, Stew chicken, rice and peas, hearty fish broths or fish water, hearty soups packed full with fresh locally produced vegetables. St Lucian cuisine is similar to that in many other commonwealth Caribbean nations such as Dominica, Jamaica, neighboring St Vincent and Trinidad.
Typical essential food stuff are potatos, onions, celery, thyme, coconut milk, the very hot scotch bonnet peppers, flour and cornmeal. All mainstream meat and poultry are eaten in St Lucia; meat and seafood are normally stewed and browned to create a rich gravy sometimes served over ground provisions or rice. Due to St Lucia's small Indo-Caribbean population curry is very popular, however due to the blend of between cooking styles curry dishes have a distant Caribbean twist to it. In recent years roti, a flatbread of Indian origin, has become very popular being imported from the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago to the south this bread is typically served as a fast food snack, the bread itself is very flat (sometimes very thin) and is wrapped around curried vegetables such as chickpeas, potato or meat.
Classes and Castes. Although in recent years a middle class has developed, the disparities between rich and poor are extreme. Rural prosperity based on banana cultivation is now seriously threatened. The growth of suburban areas around Castries is indicative of the economic primacy of the capital; village areas continue to be marked by poverty and substandard living conditions.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Race remains an important social marker, but it is probably of less consequence than in former times. Likewise, language (English vs. Kwéyo`l ), while still significant, is less important, particularly with the increase in spoken English and decreasing numbers of monolingual Kwéyo`l speakers.
Government. Saint Lucia has a parliamentary system, constructed on a British model. Universal adult suffrage has been in place since 1951, and by 2000, the island had conducted thirteen elections under this system. The House of Assembly has seventeen elected members, with the majority party forming the government. The term of office is usually five years, but elections are occasionally called before this term elapses. A ministerial system is in place whereby a professional civil service is answerable to a Minister of Government, usually an elected member of the House.
Leadership and Political Officials Control of the government has shifted between two parties during the last half of the twentieth century. The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), formed out of the trade union movement in 1947, controlled the first elected government after 1951. The United Workers Party (UWP) succeeded them in 1964 after its inauguration earlier that year. In the intervening years the UWP has led the government for all but seven years. In 2000, an SLP government was in place.
Social Problems and Control
The legal system is mostly founded on British common law, with some continuing Napoleanic Code influence from the earlier French period. A professionally trained police force serves the island. Criminal activity has been on the rise in recent years; the presence of guns in the hands of a criminal element is increasingly troubling, and violent crimes that are gun- and drug-associated have multiplied. Saint Lucia, like many of its neighbors, has become a locale for drug transshipment, leading to the rise in crime.
Beautiful St Lucian ladies in their traditional African heritage attire during the celebration of the annual Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day) which is a festival, celebrated across the island since 1984. http://tuneinandstepup.com/
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. Although there is a patriarchal bias in the society, occupational differentiation has declined in recent times. Both men and women perform most agricultural labor, and the professional ranks are open to both. Some traditional occupations continue to be gender specific—fishing is a male activity, paid domestic labor is done by women. Assembly factories hire a mostly female workforce. The significantly greater success by girls than boys in school may affect gender parity in positions that demand education and training.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Much has been made of the so-called "matrifocal" character of West Indian domestic life. This is reflected in Saint Lucia, where men are frequently not dominant figures in households, or are absent. As more women are gainfully employed outside the home, and with the relative success of female schoolchildren, traditional male dominance in the society may be severely challenged.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Marriage takes place between consenting adults, but is frequently not entered into until middle age. Other living or domestic arrangements often precede a legal marriage, especially within the lower class. These may include "friending," a visiting relationship that often results in childbirth and which may involve the performance of domestic services by the woman in return for a measure of financial contribution on the part of the man. Another arrangement is a cohabitational relationship without benefit of legal marriage.
This may be an enduring union eventually given the legal legitimacy of marriage; expectations of the partners and the enactment of the relationship parallel those of a legal union. The cohabitational union is usually not an option for the middle class, for whom the respectability conferred by a legal union is an important consideration.
Relationships outside of marriage are commonplace for men, who may have "friending" alliances despite being in a cohabitational union. When children are born of such unions, the man is expected to financially contribute to the care of the child, but among the poor these contributions are likely to be meager. The opportunity for women to engage in similar activity outside a cohabitational union is limited.
Domestic Unit. Household composition evidences considerable variation. Although domestic units include everything from nuclear family groupings to three-generational households with no resident males, there are a large number of female-headed domestic units. The incidence of these is often class-determined, much more commonplace among poor women than in the middle class. Males resident in such units may be transient.
Kin Groups. The most important kin grouping is the family, which is defined both matrilineally and patrilineally. Family and residential groups often include extended family and others included though non-formal mechanisms. Other extensions include godparenthood, especially for the Roman Catholic majority.
St Lucian man
Child Rearing and Education. Children are often fostered in the homes of relatives, especially grandparents. In part this is a function of the mobility of Saint Lucians, who have long migrated to work opportunities leaving dependent children behind. From an early age village and rural children have considerable freedom to explore their environment without much adult supervision. With young girls this freedom is curtailed as they approach puberty, in the effort to avoid early pregnancies. Childless women are considered unfortunate, but they often acquire maternal status through customary fosterage or adoption.
Children enter infant school at age five. At about eight years old, they move on to primary school. These two institutions are found in most communities and most are coeducational. For the majority of Saint Lucian children, formal schooling ends when they reach the age of fifteen. Although the opportunities for secondary schooling have expanded greatly during the past forty years, there are not enough places for all who desire admittance and entrance exams determine who will continue.
Higher Education. There are no universities in Saint Lucia, but students can prepare for admittance to the University of the West Indies, which has three campuses, by attending classes at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
Religious Beliefs. Reflecting early French colonial control, the majority of Saint Lucians are Roman Catholics, although in recent years Protestant sects have converted many. Every village and many rural settlements have Catholic churches. Much of the clergy is now Saint Lucian, a change from colonial times when nearly all churches had French priests. All the Catholic holidays and sacraments are celebrated.
Death and the Afterlife
Along with conventional religious funeral and burial practices, Saint Lucians stage and participate in wakes, the most important of which occurs in the evening of the death. A wake is presumably attended by at least one representative from each household in the village. Preparations include laying out the deceased in their best clothing inside the house for viewing by guests. Attendees are served white rum and strong coffee at intervals throughout the event, which may continue well into the night. Inside the house a group of singers renders hymns by Ira Davis Sankey, the late-nineteenth-century American gospel singer and hymn composer; and the atmosphere is solemn. Outside, the tone is festive and boisterous. Games are played, jokes are told, and vignettes, sometimes of a ribald nature, are performed. The wake, in somewhat subdued terms, may be repeated a week after the death, and a Mass is often said for the deceased on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death.
Medicine and Health Care
Saint Lucia has a primary health care system that includes health centers throughout the island, each with a resident nurse and visited weekly by a doctor. Hospitals are situated at Vieux-Fort and Castries, with a smaller unit in Dennery. Private medical practitioners are mostly located in Castries, and those who can afford it seek them out. Apart from biomedical facilities and personnel, there are many who practice traditional alternative therapies. These range from the use of locally grown plants and herbs, combined in a variety of tinctures, poultices, and remedies, to practitioners of Obeah, locally known as tchenbwa or zeb. These practitioners treat not only medical ailments but also spells, mental afflictions, and troubles of a supernatural origin. Saint Lucians are eclectic in their choice of treatment for various maladies, a phenomenon that reflects their creolized heritage.
Two significant secular events draw many participants. The first of these is Carnival, traditionally a pre-Lenten festival, similar to those found elsewhere in the Caribbean, Brazil, and Louisiana. Although it had some religious overtones, Carnival has become a purely secular event.
Carnival kids, St Lucia
Recently the Saint Lucian Carnival has been shifted to July, possibly to attract tourists and to avoid the congestion of many events occurring in the spring. Carnival includes costuming, parades, Calypso contests, queen contests, and general celebratory behavior. A second event, of more recent vintage, is Jounen Kwéyo`l (Creole Day), a week-long festival celebrating traditional music, dance, storytelling, costuming, crafts, and Kwéyo`l language.
Another pair of celebrations are the flower festivals, La Rose and La Marguerite, observed annually by local societies in many villages on the feast days of the patron saints, Saint Rose de Lima (30 August) and Saint Marguerite D'youville (17 October).
Beautiful Afro-Amerindian girl from St Lucia in traditional attire
Tourism potentials of St Lucia.
St. Lucia is the sort of island that travellers to the Caribbean dream about--a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.
In natural beauty, St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal peaks, the Pitons, soar 2,000 feet up from the sea, sheltering magnificent rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish. Brilliantly-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot. The rainforest is broken only by verdant fields and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, and papaya trees.
Natural Attractions of St. Lucia
St Lucia Eco AdventuresSt. Lucia possesses a topography and ecology of stunning beauty, matched by no other location in the Caribbean. The island's pride in its natural resources is evident in the country's ongoing protection and conservation efforts. In the mountainous interior lies the enormous National Rain Forest, and the island's protected coastal sights include the breathtaking, unforgettable spires of Les Pitons. All sorts of nature hikes, tours, and programs have been developed to showcase these peerless assets, allowing visitors to enjoy the island without harming its complex and fragile environment.
St. Lucia's environmental philosophy also extends beyond its shoreline to the protection of its beautiful coral reefs, with their rich and diverse tropical sea life. The government has created four preservation areas, encompassing all of the island's outstanding reefs. Watersports enthusiasts, divers, and boat owners are required to purchase a permit before entering the reserve, and the fees are used for repairs to the reef and preserving threatened marine species.
Located near Soufriere, these primeval twin peaks, topping 2,000 feet, are St. Lucia's most famous landmark. Only the most daring climbers have ventured an ascent to their summits, but they can be seen in all their glory from Mt. Gimie or from the decks of a boat offshore.
National Rain Forest
Of particular appeal to bird watchers, hikers and nature lovers, it covers 19,000 acres of lush mountains and valleys. It is home to giant ferns, birds of paradise and many other indigenous tree species, exotic flowers and fruits, and its paths are strewn with tiny bromeliads, wild orchids and mushrooms. Among the rare and beautiful birds adding color to the scene are the brightly-hued St. Lucia Parrot, known locally as the "jacquot," the White Breasted Thrasher, the St. Lucia Peewee, and the St. Lucia Oriole. For organized tours, contact the Forest and Lands Department at 450-2231.
The Sulphur Springs
Now dormant, it is the world's only drive-in volcano. A tour of its bubbly, steamy sulphur springs offers a direct and fascinating lesson in the violent geology of the Caribbean Rim.
At 3,117 feet, it is the highest point on St. Lucia. One of the best eye-filling views of this peak is to be had on emerging from the rain forest. Guided tours are conducted up the mountain.
France's King Louis XVI had bathhouses built for his troops at these natural, mineral-rich falls. An invigorating shower under the cascading waters is still a refreshing break.
This beautiful hidden treasure of St. Lucia is filled with luscious fruits, blooming flowers, thriving plants, shading trees, and vibrant waterfalls. A walk on the waterfall trails or a relaxing night under the moon and stars, amidst the scent of healthy vegetation, are adventures not to be missed. For more information, contact the Gardens at (758) 454-0202.
Two small islands off the coast of Vieux Fort, the Maria Islands are a nature reserve and the refuge of two species found nowhere else in the world. The Kouwes Snake, noted as the world's rarest snake, and the Zandoli Te, a ground lizard whose males display a brilliant blue tail. Frigate Island is a haven for frigate birds during mating season.
ST Lucia Eco Adventures
Nature Hikes, Tours, and Programs
Barre de L'isle Rain Forest Trail
The highlight of this trail, which runs along the perimeter of the rain forest, is a climb to the top of Morne la Combe that is only for the stout of heart. The mountain, towering 1,446 feet, lies on the Barre de Lisle ridge and offers panoramic views west to the Roseau and Mabouya valleys. The walk takes approximately three hours. For more information, call 450-2231/7-8.
Union Nature Trail
A beautiful, looping, graveled path parades through a dry forest punctuated by hummingbirds, warblers, and finches. The nature of the trail allows up close and personal views of several spectacular introduced tree species, medicinal herbs, and local fruit trees, plus exotic wildlife at a miniature zoo. There is also a center that provides information about the island's endangered species, vegetation zones, and life in the forest. The tour lasts just over one hour.
This tour is particularly appealing to those interested in horticulture, biology, entomology, ornithology, and native flora and fauna. Though it is guided, the tour will venture off the beaten track to wherever the participants desire to go, including up and down mountains, into the forests and bushes. The schedule and prices vary, depending on the type of tour and the number of participants. For further information contact the Forestry Department.
Fregate Island Nature Trail
This tour along St. Lucia's Atlantic Coast offers several scenic views on a mile-long trail circling the national park. The tour calls on the breeding ground of St. Lucia's Fregate bird population, a locale that is also home to a number of rare species of birds, Boa Constrictors, and some unusual forms of vegetation. Tours are arranged through the St. Lucia National Trust.
Morne Le Blanc/Laborie
Morne Le Blanc towers over the coastal community of Laborie and the southern plains of St. Lucia. The mountain's summit affords a view of distant St. Vincent and a scenic, shady rest spot for picnics.
This tour by bus travels through St. Lucia's interior with stops at historic sites, including a working still at an old plantation house in Balembouche, interesting remains of a waterwheel, and ancient Amerindian "potholes." Another version of this tour includes a visit to the Pitons and a petroglyph site, returning by boat along the west coast. Lunch is included in the tour. For further information, call 452-5005.
Hardy Point Cactus Valley Walking Trek
This walking tour (which can also be taken by bus) begins at Hardy Point, a natural outcrop with splendid views of the entire Esperance Bay, the northern coast and the La Sociere mountain range. There are stops in Cactus Valley (aptly named because of its numerous resident species) and at several of the "blowholes" created by the force of the Atlantic Ocean. Across Donkey Beach, the trek visits Pigeon Island for sightseeing and swimming. Lunch at the Jambe de Bois Restaurant is included.
Located on the southeast coast, just outside of Vieux Fort, it is the principle source of nutrients for the island's natural fish nursery in the nearby Savannes Bay. A viewing tower provides an excellent vantage point for birdwatching and a diorama and brochures provide information on the unique features of the Mangrove. Guided tours can be arranged through the St. Lucia national Trust (452-5005) or the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (454-6060).
In areas such as the Bois D'Orange Swamp, the Rain Forest and Boriel's Pond, visitors can observe some of St. Lucia's rare, indigenous species, like the St. Lucian Parrot, White Breasted Thrasher, St. Lucia Peewee, St. Lucia Oriole, and St. Lucia Wren. Arrangements can be made through the St. Lucia Forestry Department for early morning or late afternoon trips. Four-hour excursions cost US$40.00 per person and accommodate a maximum of ten persons, minimum of three.
Grande Anse Beach, on the north coast, is the center for this activity during mid-March to the end of July. Housed in a little tent city, and soothed by the sea aglow in the starlight, campers can enjoy the spectacle of leatherback turtles rising from the surf. It is a great experience even if the guests of honor don't show. Watches are held on Saturday nights between 4:00pm to 6:30am and the cost is EC$10 per person.
Exploring St. Lucia
St. Lucia has some of the most overwhelmingly beautiful scenery to be found anywhere in the world. Amongst the natural beauty of its splendid forests and soaring peaks are ancient fortresses, gem-like fishing villages, and gracious town squares, places waiting like buried treasure to be discovered by newcomers.
St. Lucia's bustling capital is home to several of St. Lucia's historical sights, like the La Toc Battery, and beautiful architecture, including the uniquely decorated Cathedral and the Central Library. There is excellent shopping in the town market and Bagshaws, where the art of silkscreening can be observed.
Morne Fortune (Hill of Good Luck)
Overlooking Castries, this was a key battleground during the period of skirmishes over colonial possession of St. Lucia. The French began constructing a fortress at this strategic outpost in the 17th century, but it was the British who finished it when the French surrendered in 1796.
Another vital wartime base, where a British Admiral once ambushed the French by camouflaging his fleet with palm fronds. This picturesque bay is now a yacht haven and one of St. Lucia's most beautiful spots.
Derek Walcott Square
Located in the capital, Castries, a 400-year-old samaan tree shades the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1897.
Anse-le-Ray & Canaries
An afternoon visit to these tiny fishing villages offer an interesting study of one of St. Lucia's main traditions, fishing in dug-out canoes.
Located in the south, it is the oldest town in St. Lucia, established by the French in 1746. Of particular note is its unusual marketplace, decorated with colourful murals and gingerbread trim.
Midway between Soufriere and Vieux Fort on the southwest coast, this village is rich in history, crafts and spectacular views. It is home to a petroglyph carved centuries ago by the island's early inhabitants and Fort Citreon, where only a single cannon remains.
Like Cinderella preparing for the Ball, this fishing village transforms itself every Friday night into a colorful carnival scene, featuring soca and reggae music and a "jump up" (dancing in the streets).
Pigeon Island, a 40-acre islet connected by a causeway to St. Lucia's west coast, is a beautiful nature park which reflects a thousand years of history. There are marked trails with a number of historical sites, like the remains of an 18th-century British fort and Fort Rodney, where the Admiral for which it is named spied on the French ships from its strategic viewpoint . The island also has two secluded beaches and is the major venue of St. Lucia's annual Jazz Festival.
The Pigeon Island Museum & Interpretive Centre, displaying the island's history, is housed in a landmark former British officers' mess building, restored to its 1808 elegance. Through interactive audio/visual aids and ancient artifacts, visitors learn about the first Carib Indian settlers and the island's role in the French/British battles during colonization. A highlight is Admiral Rodney's victory in 1782 at the famous "Battle of the Saints." The museum opens daily 9:00am to 5:00pm; admission is EC$5.00 for adults and EC$.50 for children. For information, contact the St. Lucia National Trust (452-5005).
The drive to Errard, near the village of Dennery, crosses the interior of the island and borders the rain forest. The tour includes an introduction to the various fruit crops, a "cocoa dance," which polishes the beans, and a Creole lunch featuring local fruit juices. For arrangements, call 453-1260.
La Sikwe Historical Sugar Mill & Plantation
Bordering the village of Anse la Raye, the 400-acre estate is set in a beautiful botanical garden. The tour features an onsite museum and cultural theatre with a 40-foot water wheel depicting the sugar-growing years of the 18th century. Tours must be scheduled in advance and can be arranged through any hotel.
St. Lucia's largest estate is located just outside of Castries. This working plantation offers insights into the production of St. Lucia's present export crops, banana and copra, as well as the principal crops of previous years, coffee and cocoa. The tour includes a scenic drive along St. Lucia's northeast coast to the countryside, a visit to an old sugar mill, a boat ride on the Marquis river and lunch at the plantation house. Call 452-3762 to arrange a tour.
Morne Coubaril Estate
Overlooking the picturesque town of Soufriere, the tour includes a demonstration of cocoa, copra, and manioc processing, a walk on an original street formerly used by mule carriages, and a visit to a workers' village.
Weddings & Honeymoons in St. Lucia
Wedding PictureSt. Lucia, known for its lush tropical beauty and breathtaking scenery, is highly-regarded as a romantic retreat and a honeymoon and wedding destination.
couple in honeymoon
Most of the hotels in St. Lucia provide special facilities for couples getting married on the island; some will also provide a private room or suite for the ceremony, if you prefer. They can usually handle any other requirements, including bridal bouquet, photos or videos, music, the wedding cake, champagne toast for the bridge and groom, and even the services of the best man, if necessary. Honeymooners get special treatment in most hotels, with a basket of fruit and flowers or a bottled of chilled sparkling wine on arrival.
Hotels that offer special wedding packages include Anse Chastanet, Club St. Lucia, Green Parrot Inn, Le Sport, Royal St. Lucian, Sandals St. Lucia, Sandals Halcyon, Rex St. Lucian, and Windjammer.
The following original documents are required to be produced in person before the local registrar (foreign documents must be translated into English):
Proof of Absolute, if one of the parties is divorced.
A Death Certificate for the former spouse, in the case of a widow/widower.
A Deed Pool, if a name has been changed.
Evidence of parental consent, in the form of a notarized sworn affidavit, if one of the parties is under the age of 18.
Application to be married in St. Lucia must be made by a local solicitor to the Attorney General, who will issue a marriage license after a two-day residency period. It takes two business days to process the application.
You can expect to pay the following fees:
Notarial Fees & Marriage Licence - EC$335.00 if you are there 7 days before marriage. If you are there less then 7 days the fee for the Marriage License will be EC$540.00.
Registrar Fees - EC$100.00
Marriage Certificate - EC$8.00
Note: It is possible to be married on the fifth day after arriving in St. Lucia, if the above procedures are followed. Church weddings can be arranged for most denominations in advance