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St Lucia

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Summary Article: St Lucia from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide
Stretching for 3200km (2000mi), the island chain...
Image from: Stretching for 3200km (2000mi), the island chain... from Philip's Encyclopedia [cite image]

Country in the West Indies, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, one of the Windward Islands.

Government St Lucia has a multiparty parliamentary political executive. Its constitution dates from independence in 1979. Its formal head of state is a governor-general, appointed by and representing the British monarch. The governor general appoints a prime minister and cabinet, drawn from and responsible to the lower house of the two-chamber parliament.

The legislature comprises an upper house, the Senate, with 11 appointed members, and a lower house, the House of Assembly, with 17 members, elected from single-member constituencies by universal suffrage. Six senators are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister, three on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and two after wider consultation. Parliament has a life of up to five years.

History The original inhabitants were Carib Indians. Columbus arrived in 1502. The island was settled by the French in 1635, who introduced slavery, and ceded to Britain in 1803.

It became a crown colony in 1814.

Independence St Lucia was a colony within the Windward Islands federal system until 1960, and acquired internal self-government in 1967 as a West Indies associated state. The leader of the right-of-centre United Workers' Party (UWP), John Compton, became prime minister. In 1975 the associated states agreed to seek independence separately, and in February 1979, after prolonged negotiations, St Lucia achieved full independence within the Commonwealth, with Compton as prime minister. It joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1974 and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on its creation in 1981.

The centre-left St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) came to power in 1979 led by Allan Louisy, but a split developed within the party, and in 1981 Louisy was forced to resign, being replaced by the attorney general, Winston Cenac.

Soon afterwards, Louisy's deputy, George Odlum, left with two colleagues to form a breakaway Progressive Labour Party. The Cenac government was unpopular and, after demonstrations and a general strike, Cenac resigned in January 1982.

Led by Compton, the UWP won the May 1982 general election and secured re-election in 1987 and 1992. It followed conservative, pro-Western and anti-communist policies. Aged 70, Compton retired as prime minister in April 1996 and was replaced by his chosen successor Vaughan Lewis. But the UWP lost the May 1997 general election to the SLP, whose leader, Kenny Anthony, became prime minister. The SLP was re-elected in 2002.

Compton returned to politics in March 2005 and led the UWP to victory in the December 2006 general election. But he fell ill in May 2007 and died in office in September 2007. He was succeeded as prime minister by Stephenson King, the health and labour relations minister who had been acting prime minister from May 2007. King appointed himself also finance minister and despite the country's tourism sector being hit by the world recession, he pledged to increase youth employment through training. He also sought to address the country's gang culture. However, the UWP suffered a crushing defeat in the November 2011 general election, with the SLP winning 51% of the vote and 11 of the 17 lower house seats and Kenny Anthony returned as prime minister.

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