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languages: English (official),
French patois Prime minister: Stephenson King
supports several small- and medium-sized
In the 1960s, just before establishment of the
European Economic Community (EEC), about 80% of
the island's income derived from banana-crop
exports to the United Kingdom. By the time the
EEC was being phased into the European Union in
1993, that bloc's agricultural committees had
announced their intention to eliminate preferred
access of Windward Islands crops to the United
Kingdom, which will cause considerable reduction
in the prices which banana crops previously
In order to mitigate the impact of such income
reductions, the island's governments have
announced several efforts to diversify the
island's agricultural production. They have
encouraged the establishment of tree crops such
as mangos and avocados.
The island's banana output was heavily impacted
in 2007 by the passage of Hurricane Dean. In
2006 the Governor stated:
While living standards have improved for many, a
large number of persons has been pushed to the
margin of economic activity especially in the
areas which once depended heavily on the banana
industry for a livelihood.
In addition to banana production for export, a
variety of crops are produced on the island for
Tourism is the main source of income for St Lucia and the industry is its biggest employer.
The tropical eastern Caribbean island boasts beaches, mountains, exotic plants and the Qualibou volcano with its boiling sulphur springs.
Before the visitor influx, banana exports sustained St Lucia, especially after 1964 when it stopped producing sugar cane.
Along with other Caribbean producers it benefited from preferred access to European markets, at the expense of Latin American growers. The World Trade Organisation has ruled that the practice should be phased out.
The volcanic peaks of the Pitons feature on the national flag
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Pearlette Louisy
Prime minister: Stephenson King
Stephenson King was sworn in as prime minister in September 2007, following the death of veteran leader Sir John Compton.
Mr King served as acting prime minister for several months during Sir John's illness.
Mr King was chosen as successor by MPs of his ruling United Workers Party (UWP). Under the constitution, the Governor General appoints as prime minister the MP who commands the confidence of the majority of elected members of parliament.
Sir John Compton helped guide St Lucia to independence from Britain and infuriated China by restoring ties with Taiwan. He was prime minister three times, from 1964 to 1979, 1982 to 1996 and from December 2006 until his death at the age of 82.