St. Lucia is a sovereign island country in the Caribbean, near the point at which the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. The two islands that make up St. Lucia are part of the Lesser Antilles, and are near the islands of Martinique, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. St. Lucia’s tropical climate has two seasons: a wet season between June and November, and a dry season between December and May. The country is located so close to the equator that there is little temperature variation throughout the year; the average temperature during the day is 29 degrees Celsius, and at night, around 18 degrees.
St. Lucia is not well-known to the Western world; when most people think of Caribbean islands it’s places like Aruba, Barbados, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands that come to mind. However, tourism is an integral part of the country’s economy, and for the increasing number of people who have been to the country, one of its most delightful aspects is the friendliness and warmth of the locals.
St. Lucia also has the distinction of being the only country in the world that is named after a woman—Saint Lucy, a Syracusian martyr.
The first verified inhabitants of the St. Lucia islands were the Arawak people, who arrived from South America around 1800 years ago. In the 9th century a new culture arrived—the Caribs, or Kalingo—who were more warlike than the peaceful Arawak, and took control of the land.
In the 17th century, the Dutch became the first Europeans to attempt settlement; in succession the French and English also made attempts. All failed as a result of disease and conflict with the Caribs. The first successful long-term settlement was finally established by the French in 1666, who developed sugar plantations and imported slaves to work on them.
After the French revolution, however, many slaves began to work for themselves, and Britain invaded the island in order to control the plantations and the slaves. Finally in 1838 the island’s slaves attained full freedom.
In the 20th century St. Lucia gradually moved closer to self-government, with a constitution in 1924, universal suffrage in 1951, and the introduction of a ministerial government in 1956, before finally achieving full independence in 1979.
The island’s most well-known native animal is the St. Lucian parrot, known locally as the jacquot. The jacquot is coloured in various shades of vibrant green, blue, and orange, and is found nowhere else in the world. Other endemic species include the St. Lucia oriele and the St. Lucia warbler. There are no native mammals on St. Lucia: the sole native mammal was the giant rice rat, a rodent that grew to the size of a domestic cat, and became extinct late in the 19th century.
St. Lucia’s nine endemic plant species include species of lobelia, macrocarpa, and others. The country’s natives are mostly shrubs and small trees, found in the small stretches of rainforest on the islands.
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