616.3 sq km (238 sq miles).
265.2 per sq km.
Head of state:
Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Pearlette Louisy since 1997.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Kenny Anthony since 2011.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs generally have three square pins (as in the UK), but some sockets do take American flat-pin plugs.
Trade winds keep temperatures on the right side of sizzling in sunny St Lucia, where white sandy beaches, crystalline waters and luscious rainforests paint the quintessential picture of Caribbean island idyll.
St Lucia is in the business of creating lasting first impressions: visitors to the island are greeted by the unforgettable sight of the Piton Mountains, which are fringed by coral reefs, sandy shores and swaying palms as they rise majestically from the rolling surf.
While other Caribbean islands lay claim to equally beautiful beaches, St Lucia will tempt you out of the sun-lounger and into the ocean with its bountiful marine life and exquisite reefs, which are a playground for scuba divers and snorkelers. St Lucia’s waters are also prime for kite-boarding and windsurfing, thanks to the aforementioned trade winds.
It’s not all about the coast, though. A trip to the island’s interior presents the opportunity to hike through verdant mountains, zip-line over forest canopies and watch boiling sulphur springs bubble away atop a volcano, all in a day’s work. If you’ve still got the energy for a night out, there are regular shindigs in the north of the island. Friday nights get particularly lively.
Here visitors can experience the relaxed flavour of island life, as well as the unique mixture of West African, European and East Indian influences that infuse the local cuisine. St Lucia is also known for its folk music and world-famous Jazz & Arts Festival, which takes place every year amidst much fanfare.
The island carries a unique cultural heritage, having changed hands between Britain and France no fewer than 14 times. The British eventually lost control in 1979, and St Lucia gained its independence. Various cultural legacies linger, from the colonial-style plantations that dot the landscape, to the French-influenced patois spoken throughout the country.
The result is a destination that will captivate visitors long after the emerald-green peaks of the Pitons have disappeared over the horizon.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of crime including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.
Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.
Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually help with this. You must present a valid UK driving licence.
Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps. Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.
Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.
Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving.
In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.
Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as EC dollars.
Take care especially on the main east coast road to and from Hewanorra International Airport.
Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibuses drivers may drive above the speed limit.