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Saint Lucia


Cardinal Richelieu, United Workers Party, Treaty of Paris, Commonwealth of Nations, Caribbean islands

Saint Lucia was one of the last strongholds of the Carib people indigenous to many of the Caribbean islands. Saint Lucia was probably first visited by Europeans about 1500, but the first successful colony was not established until the mid-17th century. The French signed a treaty with the Carib in 1660.

Saint Lucia was the scene of an extended struggle for possession between the French and the British. The French claim was based on a reputed grant of the island in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu to officers of the French West India Company. The British claimed a grant by Charles I dating from 1627. The island changed hands between England and France 14 times, but until the 19th century its settlement and administration were most often in French hands. Saint Lucia was finally ceded to the British in 1814 by the Treaty of Paris.

From the mid-17th century on, African slaves were brought to work on the islandís plantations. They and their descendants gradually came to dominate the population.

On February 22, 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1992 the poet Derek Walcott, a native of Castries, won the Nobel Prize for literature. In June 1997 the Labour Party won 16 of 17 seats in the parliament, defeating the United Workers Party, which had controlled the government since 1982. Labour leader Kenneth Anthony became the new prime minister.

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