The island, with
its fine natural harbor at Castries, was contested between England
and France throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing
possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814. Self-government
was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979.
Lucia is the sort of island that travellers to the Caribbean dream
about--a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown.
One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is located
midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and
St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles
long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either
a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean
kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe
their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.
In natural beauty, St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the
South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal
peaks, the Pitons, soar 2,000 feet up from the sea, sheltering magnificent
rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise
flourish. Brilliantly-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered
species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot. The rainforest is broken
only by verdant fields and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, and