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St Lucia

ST LUCIA, the largest of the British Windward Islands, West Indies, in 14 N., 61 W., 24 m. S. of Martinique and 21 m. N.E. of St Vincent. Its area is 233 sq. m., length 42 m., maximum breadth 1 2 m., and its coast-line is 1 50 m. long. It is considered one of the loveliest of all the West Indian islands. It is a mass of mountains, rising sheer from the water, their summits bathed in perpetual mist. Impenetrable forests alternate with fertile plains, and deep ravines and frowning precipices with beautiful bays and coves. Everywhere there is luxuriant vegetation.

Les Pitons (2720 and 2680 ft.) are the chief natural feature two immense pyramids of rock rising abruptly from the sea, their slopes, inclined at an angle of 60, being clad on three sides with densest verdure. No connexion has been traced between them and the mountain system of the island. In the S.W. also is the volcano of Soufnere (about 4000 ft.), whose crater is 3 acres in size and covered with sulphur and cinders. The climate is humid, the rainfall varying from 70 to 120 in. per annum, with an average temperature of 80 F. The soil is deep and rich; the main products are sugar, cocoa, logwood, coffee, nutmegs, mace, kola-nuts and vanilla, all of which are exported. Tobacco also is grown, but not for export. The usine or central factory system is established, there being four government sugar-mills. Snakes, formerly prevalent, have been almost exterminated by the introduction of the mongoose. Only about a third of the island is cultivated, the rest being crown land under virgin forest, abounding in timber suitable for the finest cabinet work. The main import trade up to 1904 was from Great Britain; since then, owing to the increased coal imports from the United States, the imports are chiefly from other countries. The majority of the exports go to the United States and to Canada. In the ten years 1898-1907 the imports averaged 322,000 a year; the exports 195,000 a year. Bunker coal forms a large item both in imports and exports. Coal, sugar, cocoa and logwood form the chief exports.

Education is denominational, assisted by government grants. The large majority of the schools are under the control of the Roman Catholics, to whom all the government primary schools were handed over in 1898. There is a government agricultural school. St Lucia is controlled by an administrator (responsible to the governor of the Windward Islands) , assisted by an executive council. The legislature consists of the administrator and a council of nominated members. Revenue and expenditure in the period 1901 1907 balanced at about 60,000 a year. The law of the island preserves, in a modified form, the laws of the French monarchy.

Castries, the capital, on the N.W. coast, has a magnificent landlocked harbour. There is a concrete wharf 650 ft. long with a depth alongside of 27 ft., and a wharf of wood 552 ft. in length. It is the principal coaling station of the British fleet in the West Indies, was strongly fortified, and has been the military headquarters. (The troops were removed and the military works stopped in 1905.) It is a port of registry, and the facilities it offers as a port of call are widely recognized, the tonnage of ships cleared and entered rising from 1,555,000 in 1898 to 2,627,000 in 1907. Pop. {1901) 7910. Soufriere, m the south, the only other town of any importance, had a population of 2394. The Canbs have disappeared from the island, and the bulk of the .inhabitants are negroes. Their language is a French patois, but English is gradually replacing it. There is a small colony of East Indian coolies, and the white inhabitants are mostly Creoles of French descent. The total population of the island (1901) is 49.833- History. St Lucia is supposed to have been discovered by Columbus in 1502, and to have been named by the Spaniards after the saint on whose day it was discovered. It was inhabited by Caribs, who killed the majority of the first white people (Englishmen) who attempted to settle on the island (1605). For two centuries St Lucia was claimed both by France and by England. In 1627 the famous Carlisle grant included St Lucia among British possessions, while in 1635 the king of France granted it to two of his subjects. In 1638 some 130 English from St Kills formed a selllemenl, bul in 1641 were killed or driven away by Ihe Caribs. The French in 1650 senl seltlers from Martinique who concluded a treaty of peace with the Caribs in 1660. Thomas Warner, natural son of the governor of St Kills, allacked and overpowered the French selllers in 1663, bul the peace of Breda (1667) restored it to France and it became nominally a dependency of Martinique. The British still claimed the island as a dependency of Barbadoes, and in 1722 George I. made a granl of il lo the duke of Monlague. The year following French Iroops from Martinique compelled the British settlers to evacuate the island. In 1748 both France and Great Brilain recognized the island as " neutral." In 1762 its inhabitanls surrendered lo Admiral Rodney and General Moncklon. By the Ireaty of Paris (1763), however, the British acknowledged the claims of France, and steps were taken lo develop the resources of the island. French planlers came from Si Vincenl and Grenada,collon and sugar plantations were formed, and in 1772 the island was said to have a population of 15,000, largely slaves. In 1778 it was captured by the British; its harbours were a rendezvous for the British squadrons and Gros Ilet Bay was Rodney's starting-point before his victory over the Comte de Grasse (April 1782). The peace of Versailles (1783) restored St Lucia to France, but in 1 794 it was surrendered to Admiral Jervis (Lord St Vincent). Viclor Hugues, a partisan of Robespierre, aided by insurgent slaves, made a strenuous resistance and recovered the island in June 1795. Sir Ralph Abercromby and Sir John Moore, at the head of 1 2,000 troops, were sent in 1796 to reduce the island, but it was not until 1797 that the revolutionists laid down their arms. By the trealy of Amiens Si Lucia was anew declared French. Bonaparte intended to make it the capital of the Antilles, but it once more capitulated to the Brilish (June 1803) and was finally ceded lo Greal Brilain in 1814. In 1834, when the slaves were emancipated, there were in Si Lucia over 13,000 negro slaves, 2600 free men of colour and 2300 whites. The developmenl of the island half ruined by the revolutionary war has been retarded by epidemics of cholera and smallpox, by the decline of the sugarcane industry and other causes, such as the low level of education. The depression in the sugar Irade led to the adoption of cocoa cultivalion. Efforts were also made lo planl settlers on the crown lands with a fair amount of success. The colony successfully surmounted the financial stringency caused by the withdrawal of the imperial troops in 1905.

Pigeon Island, formerly an importanl mililary port, lies off the N.W. end of Si Lucia, by Gros Ilel Bay.

See Sir C. P. Lucas, Historical Geography in the British Colonies, vol. ii., " The West Indies " (2nd ed. revised by C. Atchley, Oxford, 1905), and the works there cited; also the annual reports on St Lucia issued by the Colonial Office.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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