Saint Lucia

Central America

Like many islands in the Caribbean it is hard to trace the early settlers of Saint Lucia. But there is enough evidence to say that a group known as the Arawaks from norther South America were early arrivals sometime around 200 A.D.

They were driven out, killed or assimilated by the more aggressive Caribs who arrived around 800 A.D. and settled in calling the island Hewanarau. The Caribs were long settled when the first Europeans arrived sometime around the 16th or 17th Century and, although there are many claims from different European powers, we do know that the Dutch set up a camp on the island in 1600.

From there the history of Saint Lucia is one of settlement, eviction and re-settlement by Dutch, French and English settlers. The English came in 1639 but their expedition was wiped out by the aggressive and clever Caribs. The French arrived in 1643 and established a settlement but in 1664 the English tried again only to be wiped out by disease within a couple of years.

By 1666 the French West India Company had taken over and started the development of the sugar industry. By 1674 the island was declared a French crown colony a dependency of Martinique, their centre of power in the Caribbean. Throughout the next hundred years both the French and English held the island and grew the sugar trade on the back of slave labour.

After the French revolution, around 1799, many slaves on the plantations were freed and, after a further attempt by the British to take control, a group of freed slaves known as the Brigands forced out the British invaders and slave-owners. In 1803, the British finally regained control of the island and restored slavery until it was abolished in 1834.

From there Saint Lucia was incorporated into the British Windward Islands administration in 1838 and life settled down under British rule.

In 1924 a new constitution gave the island its first quasi-government and by 1951 universal adult suffrage had been introduced. By 1956 there was government by an executive Cabinet and in 1958 Saint Lucia joined the short-lived West Indies Federation. That body collapsed in 1962 and Saint Lucia, along with a number of other British dependencies joined in, what was called, associated statehood.

In 1967 Saint Lucia took control of all aspects of government except foreign affairs and defence and on 22nd February 1979 the country achieved full independence. The country still recognises Queen Elizabeth II as its titular head of state and is an active member of the Commonwealth.

The politics of the country has been dominated by two parties, the centre-left Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and the centre-right United Workers Party (UWP). The SLP won the first elections after independence with 12 of the 17 seats in the House of Assembly but then the UWP won four elections in a row before being ousted in 1997. The SLP were back in charge until 2006 and since then the parties have taken it in turns to win elections with the most recent in 2016 when the UWP were back in charge.

Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State

Saint Lucia has a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Senate which has 11 seats (six members are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, three on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and two after consultation with religious, economic, and social groups) and the House of Assembly which has 17 members serving five year terms.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Saint Lucia at joint 35th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 60 (where 100 is least corrupt).