Getting To Know Saint Lucia
The village of Canaries on Saint Lucia’s west coast
Saint Lucia lies at approximately 13º north of the equator in the middle of Windward Islands chain. Our nearest neighbours are Martinique 21 miles to the north and St. Vincent 26 miles to the south; both are easily seen on a clear day.
The island lies within the Eastern Standard Time Zone which is 4 hours behind London (GMT) and 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time during the winter months and the same as EST during Daylight Savings Time.
Saint Lucia is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide at its widest point with an area of 238 square miles (616 sq. kms.). The island boasts a great variety of terrain but is dominated by the interior mountains. The highest point is Mount Gimie which is 3,120 feet above sea level. Easterly trade winds blow in off of the Atlantic and are forced up over the mountains; the air cools and drops its moisture creating large areas of central rain forests. The island is volcanic in origin and boasts active volcanic features, the Sulphur Springs, and the Caribbean’s most famous landmarks, the Pitons, as majestic remnants of the geologic past.
The island’s population is approximately 170,000 with the greatest concentration found in the capital, Castries, and to the north of the city.
English is the official language and is spoken well by nearly everyone. Most residents also speak a French based Creole Patois.
Saint Lucia is proud of its interesting and appealing mix of heritages and cultures. The population is 82.5% of African descent,11.9% mixed minority, 2.4% East Indian with the remaining 3.1% coming from European, North American, Lebanese, Syrian and Chinese backgrounds.
An interesting fact
Saint Lucia boasts the highest ratio per capita of Nobel laureates in the world. Two winners have come from Saint Lucia – Sir Arthur Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979, andDerek Walcott received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.
Visiting drivers must purchase local temporary driving permits which are effective for 3 months. A foreign or international license is also required. Permits can be obtained from Immigration offices at the airports, car rental agencies or local Police Stations.
Municipal water in Saint Lucia is considered safe and reliable. For those who prefer it, bottled water is readily available at hotels, stores, restaurants and bars.
Our electricity is produced at 220 volts, 50 cycles AC. Transformers and adapters are required for appliances and electronic equipment which operate on 110 volts.
Currency and Banking
The unit of currency used in Saint Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) but a wide range of currencies such as United States Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro and British Pound are readily exchanged in local banks. The value of the EC dollar is approximately US$1.00 = EC$2.70.
St. Lucian banks offer a full range of services including currency exchange and cashing of travelers cheques. Cash in local currency can be obtained by credit cards or bank cards through the ATM machines located at most branch offices. Normal banking hours are from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday through Thursday and 8:00 am to 5: 00 pm on Friday.
Local churches readily welcome visitors to their services and events. Saint Lucia is a predominately Roman Catholic nation with 67.5% of the population belonging to the Church. Other denominations include Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Evangelical, Jehovahs Witnesses, Church of the Later Day Saints and Pentecostal.