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Everything You Need To Know About St. Lucia In One Fantastic Website!

Local Info

Weather

St. Lucia has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from around 20 C to 32 C. The weather is drier between December and May and a few degrees cooler than it is during the hotter and rainier period between June to November.

The island benefits from sunshine all year round. Swimming in the sea and lounging on the islands scenic beaches is an all year round activity.

Currency

Saint Lucian Man Holding Out A Coconut

The currency of St. Lucia is the Easter Caribbean Dollar or EC$. Its exchange rate is tied or fixed to the US$ at around 2.63. So 1 US dollar is worth 2.63 EC dollars.

US dollars are widely accepted in local shops and for local services such as taxis, although usually for a slightly lower rate than you would get from a bank. Expect a rate of around 2.50 to 2.60 if spending US dollars in local shops or businesses.

Some businesses will not accept $100 US notes. US notes which are torn or damaged may also not be accepted. Many businesses will also accept Euros and British Pounds Sterling. Once again high denomination notes may not be accepted and rates will differ from those available at local banks.

You can also withdraw money locally from cash machines if you have a Visa, MasterCard or other compatible card. You may be charged a small fee locally in addition to fees from your card provider.

"Helen of the West Indies"

St. Lucia is also known as the "Helen of the West Indies". Due to her central location within the island chain of the Lesser Antilles, St. Lucia is viewed as a valuable and strategically placed island.

The English and the French fought a total of 14 battles over her and she was seven times British and seven times French. Because of this she was called "Helen of the West Indies", drawing a comparison between St. Lucia and Helen of Troy, famed for her beauty and so highly prized that wars were fought over her.

Early History

St. Lucia was originally inhabited by Amerindians, namely the Arawaks who travelled to the island in canoes from South America thousands of years ago. They called the island Iouanalao (Land of the iguanas). The iguanas are still present on the island to this day and are a protected species.

Evidence of the Amerindians can still be found today in their beautiful earthenware and stone carvings. Cassava was a staple of their diet and is still available today in the form of Cassava bread, cakes and flour known as farine.

The Caribs, also Amerindians from South America arrived on the island after the Arawaks. They were the more aggressive of the two tribes and the Caribs went on to conquer and dominate the Arawaks. The Caribs named the island Hewanarau, origin of the name of the Hewanorra international airport in Vieux Fort.

Descendants of the Caribs and Arawaks still survive today in St. Lucia although in small numbers in areas such as Canaries. The name of the town Canaries comes from the Arawack word for cooking pots, Kanawe.

Colonial History

According to European History, St. Lucia was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, although the island had been inhabited by Amerindians and visited by others for thousands of years.

The island changed hands over 14 times between the British and the French over the centuries, before finally being retained by the British, and then gaining its independence in 1979.

The European colonists largely eliminated the indigenous population through diseases and conflict, and imported slaves from Africa for the purposes of agriculture. Workers were also imported from India as "indentured servants".

The island's fertile soil and tropical climate was ideal for growing valuable crops such as cotton, sugar and tobacco which were highly valued in Europe.

Language and Culture

The official language of St. Lucia is English, although most St. Lucians also speak Patois or French Creole, which derives from the French, African and English language.

The influence of the African, Indian, Amerindian, European and other cultures combine to make St. Lucia what it is today and can be seen in its ethnicity, language, cuisine, architecture and customs. St. Lucia is a truly multicultural society and has be described as a cultural melting pot.

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