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Economy Agriculture, forestry, and fishing Sugarcane was formerly the chief crop, but production ceased entirely in , when most of the cane fields were converted to banana cultivation. Bananas are now the principal crop. Other crops are coconuts, cacao, citrus and other fruit, spices, cassava, and yams. There is a steady local fishing industry. Caribbean Basin Initiative , a program designed to promote manufacturing in the region.

An industrial free zone has been established in the south of the island near Vieux Fort; there factories produce and export electronic goods and toys. Other industries produce cardboard cartons, clothing, rum, tobacco products, coconut products, concrete blocks, and beer. Tourism has developed rapidly since ; in a complex for cruise ships was opened near Castries. Trade The chief exports are bananas, cardboard cartons, clothing, coconut products, and electronic goods. Imports include food, fuels, and manufactured goods.

Transportation There is an international airport at Vieux Fort , at the southern tip of the island, and a smaller airport at Vigie for domestic and regional flights. International shipping lines operate from the ports at Castries and Vieux Fort. In addition, there is an oil transshipment terminal near Castries. Government and society Constitutional framework Saint Lucia is a constitutional monarchy with the British monarch as head of state, represented by a governor-general.

The bicameral parliament consists of the House of Assembly elected by universal adult suffrage and the Senate, with members appointed on the advice of the prime minister , on the advice of the opposition leader in the House, and by the governor-general.

The prime minister, leader of the majority party, heads the government. Justice Saint Lucia has retained its association with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, consisting of a court of appeal and a high court. Health and welfare Several general hospitals and many health centres are distributed throughout the island. There is also a private hospital operated by a religious order at Vieux Fort. Education Primary education is free and compulsory, and there is a branch of the University of the West Indies at Castries.

There is also a technical college and a teacher-training college. Many of the primary schools are parochial , principally Roman Catholic. Communications Several newspapers are published on the island, and radio and television broadcasts are widely received. History French and British territorial rivalry The exact date of the European discovery of Saint Lucia is not known, but it is thought to have been about The first attempts at colonization were made by the English in and , but they were frustrated by sickness and the hostility of the native Caribs.

A successful settlement was achieved in by the French from Martinique , who made a treaty with the Caribs in In Thomas Warner, son of the governor of Saint Kitts , regained the island, but it was restored to France by the Treaty of Breda in In it was claimed by the crown of France and made a dependency of Martinique.

In the French resumed possession, retaining the island until the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in , in which the two countries again agreed to regard Saint Lucia as neutral. In it was captured by Adm. George Rodney and Gen. Robert Monckton, only to be given up once more by the Treaty of Paris In it again surrendered to the British, who used its harbours as a naval base, but, by the Peace of Versailles, Saint Lucia was once more restored to France.

Between and the possession of Saint Lucia passed several times between Britain and France, the British having to suppress a vigorous revolutionary party, which was aided by insurgent slaves, before gaining possession in Saint Lucia was finally ceded to Britain in by the Treaty of Paris , after which it became a crown colony. During 85, together with the other islands of the Windward group, it was administered by the governor of Barbados.

French influence on the development of Saint Lucia is illustrated by the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church and the survival of a French patois. In the years following , French planters came from Saint Vincent and Grenada and established cotton and sugar plantations. In , when the slaves were emancipated, there were in Saint Lucia more than 13, black slaves, 2, free blacks, and 2, whites. Prosperity was impeded by the decline of the sugarcane industry. Improvement came with the increase of banana and cacao cultivation and the revival of sugarcane.

Independence Representative government was obtained by the constitution of , which introduced an elective element into the legislative council; the constitution of provided for an unofficial majority in the council. In Saint Lucia joined the West Indies Federation, although its colonial status remained unchanged.

Under the constitution the post of governor of the Windward Islands was abolished, and Saint Lucia became an autonomous unit within the federation, also achieving a greater degree of internal self-government. After the federation was dissolved on May 31, , the status question was eventually settled by the West Indies Act of , in which Saint Lucia assumed a status of association with the United Kingdom on March 1, Independence was finally achieved on February 22, , with Saint Lucia remaining a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth.

The SLP governments favoured the socialist regimes of the Caribbean, establishing relations with Cuba and joining the nonaligned movement.

They also helped form the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in Rivalry within the party led to the resignation of two prime ministers in two years, and political instability caused the tourist trade to drop to one-half of its pre-independence level. In May the UWP was voted into power on a platform of inviting foreign investment and decentralizing government administration.

The agricultural sector was gradually rebuilt after the hurricane, and the end of a recession in the United States increased tourism. The UWP retained power in elections held in and The general election resulted in a landslide victory for the SLP, and its leader, Kenny Anthony, became prime minister. The UWP regained power in the elections. In a Jamaican team that had been invited by the Saint Lucia government to investigate alleged unlawful killings by the police announced that it had found that the police force had killed 12 suspected criminals and staged the crime scenes to make them appear as if the murders had been committed by unknown assailants.

The next month, however, he came under fire when charges of misfeasance and breach of trust, dating from his time as a government minister, resurfaced.

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