Tourism is the main source of income for St Lucia and the industry is its biggest employer.
The tropical eastern Caribbean island boasts beaches mountains exotic plants and the Qualibou volcano with its boiling sulphur springs.
Before the visitor influx banana exports sustained St Lucia especially after 1964 when it stopped producing sugar cane.
Along with other Caribbean producers it benefited from preferred access to European markets at the expense of Latin American growers. The World Trade Organisation has ruled that the practice should be phased out.
The volcanic peaks of the Pitons feature on the national flag
Crops such as mangoes and avocados are also grown but bananas are the biggest source of foreign exchange after tourism.
Most St Lucians are the descendants of African slaves brought in by the British in the 19th century to work on sugar plantations.
Although St Lucia is a former British colony the French settled in the 17th century. Their influence lives on in the patois spoken in the country.
- Full name: Saint Lucia
- Population: 172000 (UN 2009)
- Capital: Castries
- Major languages: English (official) French patois
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 72 years (men) 76 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 East Caribbean dollar = 100 cents
- Main exports: Bananas clothing cocoa vegetables fruits coconut oil
- GNI per capita: US $5530 (World Bank 2008)
- Internet domain: .lc
- International dialling code: +1758
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II represented by Governor-General Pearlette Louisy
Prime minister: Stephenson King
Stephenson King was sworn in as prime minister in September 2007 following the death of veteran leader Sir John Compton.
Mr King served as acting prime minister for several months during Sir John's illness.
Mr King was chosen as successor by MPs of his ruling United Workers Party (UWP). Under the constitution the Governor General appoints as prime minister the MP who commands the confidence of the majority of elected members of parliament.
Sir John Compton helped guide St Lucia to independence from Britain and infuriated China by restoring ties with Taiwan. He was prime minister three times from 1964 to 1979 1982 to 1996 and from December 2006 until his death at the age of 82.
St Lucia's newspapers and broadcasters are mainly privately-owned and carry a range of views. The government operates a radio network.
There are no daily newspapers; the island has two thrice-weekly newspapers.
In 2006 parliament repealed controversial media legislation adopted in 2003 which allowed for jail terms for knowingly publishing false news which harmed the public good.
- The Voice - three issues per week
- The Mirror - weekly
- The Star - three issues per week
- The Crusader - weekly
- The Vanguard - weekly
- One Caribbean - weekly
- Helen Television Systems (HTS) - private
- Daher Broadcasting Service (DBS) - private
- Catholic Broadcasting TV Network (CBTN)
- Radio Saint Lucia (RSL) - state-owned broadcasts in English and Creole
- Radio Caribbean International - programmes in English and Creole
- Radio 100 - news and entertainment affiliated to HTS TV
Hot FM - private news and music
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