St Lucia profile
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.
At a glance
- Politics: Prime Minister Kenny Anthony from the St Lucia Labour Party won elections in late 2011
- Economy: Tourism is the largest economic sector. There is an offshore banking industry
- International: St Lucia has flip-flopped between diplomatic relations with China and Taiwan. Since 2006 it has maintained ties with Taiwan
Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
The World Trade Organisation has ruled that the practice should be phased out.
Crops such as mangoes and avocados are also grown, but bananas are the biggest source of foreign exchange after tourism.
Most St Lucians are the descendants of African slaves, brought in by the British in the 19th century to work on sugar plantations.
Although St Lucia is a former British colony, the French settled in the 17th century. Their influence lives on in the patois spoken in the country.