Aviva Directory » Local & Global » North America » Caribbean Islands » Islands » Saint Lucia

The sovereign island nation of Saint Lucia is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea and in the Lesser Antilles. Its official language is English and the capital is Castries.

It was inhabited by Arawaks, a peaceful people which resided all over the area during the third century, having migrated from South America. Right around 800 AD, the Caribs, who were much more warlike, took the land from the Arawaks, killing all the men and taking the women to become part of their society.

The ethnic breakdown is 85% African Black, 11% mixed, 2% Indian, and 2% other, including white. Is is a constitutional monarchy which means that the monarch of Britain is the head of state, and member of the Commonwealth Nations. The British monarch appoints a governor-general, and their bicameral parliament contains a House of Assembly and a senate which is appointed with the advice of both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition leader in the House of Assembly.

Although there is reportedly no definitive proof, is has long been believed that Christopher Columbus first sighted the island in 1502. It is reported that he never mentioned it in his logs. The alternative belief is that Columbus's former navigator, Juan de la Cosa, first sighted it and mentioned it by the name of El Falcon on his map of 1500.

It is known that in the late 1550s, François le Clerc, a renowned French pirate the Santa Lucia islet of Pigeon Island, used the island as a base from which to attack and, when finished, whither to retreat. Nicknamed "Jambe de Bois," which means "peg leg" in French or "Papa de Palo," which means the same thing in Spanish, he was the first pirate in the modern era to have a peg leg.

The Dutch made landfall in 1600, at which time they built a fortified base at Vieux Fort.

In 1605, the Oliphe Blossome, a ship carrying 67 English colonists to Guyana was blown off course. They waded ashore and took a look around. They were welcomed by the Caribs, who sold them huts and land, and they set about establishing their settlement. Five weeks later, only 19 settlers were left, the rest having succumbed to either disease or attacks by Caribs. The remaining 19 escaped the island in a canoe, with the Carib in hot pursuit.

In 1635, the island was claimed by the French, who had bought the island specifically for the French West India Company, but on the heels of that, in 1639, another ship full of English hopefuls tried to establish a settlement, but they were also killed off by Caribs. In the autumn of 1640, another shipload of Englishmen arrived. More then 300, and possibly 400 men attempted to establish an English settlement. Three weeks later, having survived constant attacks by the Caribs, the remaining men fled.

In 1650, Captain du Parquet and a man named Houel bought the island and sent a group of French settlers led by a military officer named Louis de Kerengoan, sieur de Rousselan from Martinique to set up a fort. They went in hopes of establishing a permanent settlement on the island. Just about the first thing de Rousselan did was marry a Carib woman. He was appointed governor in 1653. The settlers had no problems with the Caribs. Until de Rousselan died in 1654 and they began attacking the settlement. Then they went on to kill three French governors, one after another.

In 1664, England sent 1,000 soldiers to Saint Lucia in order to get the island back, but they failed, and two years after their arrival, there were only 89 still alive, most of the original 1,000 having died of disease. The island changed back and forth between the French and the English fourteen times.

Then, in 1763, the Treaty of Paris granted the island of Saint Lucia to the French, who quickly set about building their infrastructure and plantations. The first of the plantations was established by two French men in 1765, and slaves were imported accordingly. Within a decade and a half, there were more than 50 working sugar plantations on the island.

In 1789, the French Revolution broke out, and it ran over into Saint Lucia. A guillotine was put on the town square of the capital, Soufriére, and Saint Lucians used it to execute those who were loyal to the French Crown.

In 1794, the French governor freed many of the West African slaves, however that decree was reversed by Bonaparte Napoleon in 1802. England abolished the slave trade in 1807 but slavery was still legal until 1833 when a graduated abolition was the law, and France abolished slavery in the colonies in 1848 unconditionally. England created a fund of £20 million to compensate the landowners for their loss. The now-freed slaves were given nothing.

In 1967, Santa Lucia was granted independence as an associated state, ad in 1979, Saint Lucia became a fully independent state.

 

 

Recommended Resources


Search for Saint Lucia on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!