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Saint Lucia

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Saint Lucia, independent island state in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Magnificent mountain scenery, secluded beaches, and a tropical climate draw thousands of visitors to the island each year. Fruit farming flourishes in many rural parts of the island; bananas account for much of the nation’s export earnings.

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands of the West Indies. It lies between Martinique on the north and Saint Vincent on the south. It has an area of 616 sq km (238 sq mi).

People

Most of the population of Saint Lucia is black, and about 90 percent is Roman Catholic. English is the official language, but a French patois is widely spoken. The total population of the country (2008 estimate) is 172,884. The capital and largest city is Castries (population, 2003 estimate, 14,000); it is also the principal port and has an excellent harbor.

Economy

Saint Lucia’s economy is based largely on tourism and agriculture. Tourism has been steadily expanding in Saint Lucia since the late 1960s. The island has a good network of roads linking all towns and villages. Two airports also serve the island.

Bananas are the most important crop and principal export; other products include coconuts and mangoes. About 40,700 metric tons of fruit were harvested in 2006. Manufacturing on the island is limited; the chief products include cardboard boxes, electric parts, clothing, plastics, and beverages.

The gross domestic product, which measures the total value of goods and services produced in the country, was $899.2 million in 2006. The national currency is the East Caribbean dollar (2.70 E.C. dollars equal U.S.$1; 2006).

Government

Saint Lucia is a parliamentary democracy. It recognizes the British king or queen as its own monarch and head of state. The monarch is represented by a governor-general. However, a cabinet headed by the prime minister wields actual executive power. The nation’s parliament holds legislative power. The 17 members of its lower house, the House of Assembly, are elected by popular vote; the 11 members of the Senate are appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister, the leader of the opposition party in parliament, and others. Saint Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

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