Saint Lucia is an independent island country of approximately 178,850 residents and 238 square miles. It is in the West Indies and located in the Eastern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is a Windward Island and part of the Lesser Antilles, located north of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of the island of Barbados, and south of the island of Martinique. It is the only country in the world named after a historical woman (Saint Lucy of Syracuse), and the country that changed ruling hands the most times (a total of 14 times between the French and the British until 1814 when the British ruled continuously until February 22, 1979 when Saint Lucia became a sovereign nation). It changed ruling hands so many times that it is called the “Helen of the West Indies” in reference to Greek mythology.
Saint Lucia Topography
Saint Lucia is a volcanic island, so it is more mountainous than most Caribbean islands. The highest mountain is Mount Gimie (3,120 feet above sea level), but its most-famous mountains are the beautiful and majestic Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton) that are a World Heritage Site located in the west coast city of Soufriere. Saint Lucia is the only island in the world that has a drive-in volcano. The island’s topography is very similar to Hawaii, with lush greenery and Caribbean flowers and vines covering most of the island. In fact, forests cover 77% of Saint Lucia’s land, and there is quite a bit of rainforest covering the central part of the island.
The capital of Saint Lucia is Castries (located in the north on the western – or Caribbean Sea – side of the island) where approximately 33% of the population resides. The majority of the rest of the population is concentrated in the coastal cities on both the western and eastern sides of the island. Other major towns include Gros Islet, Rodney Bay, Anse La Raye, Soufriere, and Choiseul on the western side of the island, Vieux Fort in the south (where the only international airport is located), and Micoud and Dennery on the eastern (or Atlantic Ocean) side of the island. Dennery is known for its country music scene.
Saint Lucia Climate
Saint Lucia is very close to the equator, so its temperature does not fluctuate much. Its average daytime temperature is 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and its average nighttime temperature is 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). Its location close to the equator also results in the sun rising and setting at basically the same time all year. Saint Lucia has a tropical climate with both a dry season (December 1st through May 31st) and a wet season (June 1st through November 30th).
Spoken Languages, Accepted Currency & Driving
The island’s official language is English (although French and the creole dialect of Patois are also spoken), the official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) although foreign currency is readily accepted, and driving is on the left side of the road.
Major Tourist Attractions
Popular attractions include the Pitons, Sulphur Springs, Pigeon Island National Park and Museum, the Botanical Gardens, Rodney Bay, Marigot Bay, Soufriere, the rainforest, plantation estates, and Fregate Island. Beautiful beaches abound on both sides of the island (although the western-side, Caribbean Sea beaches are better for swimming and snorkeling, and the eastern-side, Atlantic Ocean beaches are more suited for surfing and wind surfing). Beaches to swim, snorkel and surf include Reduit Beach, Vigie Beach, Marigot Bay Beach, the beach along the Causeway at Pigeon Island, Trouya Beach, the beach at La Toc, Anse Cochon, Anse Jambette, Anse Chastanet, and Malgretoute and Jalousie in between the Pitons.
Saint Lucia Festivals
Saint Lucia is also well known for many festivals, including the world-famous Saint Lucia Jazz Festival held at multiple venues throughout the island in early May, its flamboyant Carnival held in mid-July, and Creole Days held at the end of October. A testament to Saint Lucia’s laid-back and fun-loving spirit, the island has the most holidays of any country in the world.