Did you know…?
- Did you know that the very first settlers to discover and inhabit the island of St. Lucia were the Arawak Indians around the year 200 A.D.? The famous explorer Christopher Columbus was in fact not the initial discoverer of the this Helen of the West, which he stumbled upon in the year 1502, long after the native Indians had been defeated by the Hewanorra and Iouanalao (Island of Iguanas) Indians. Till this day some stories claim that even then the explorer merely sailed by. Evident European presence was not established until Francois le Clerc, the notorious buccaneer also known as Jambe de Bois, settlement at Pigeon Island in 1550. It was at this location that Peg-Leg le Clerc set up a fine base from which he spied and awaited unwitting and treasure-laden Spanish galleons.
Christopher Columbus Francois le Clerc
- Did you know that the island of St. Lucia is the only country in the world named after a woman? The name Saint Lucia was given to her by French colonists in the 1600’s, after St. Lucy of Syracuse. She is the patron saint of the blind, martyrs, epidemics, salesmen, throat infections and writers. St. Lucy is often illustrated in holy cards and statues holding a dish with a pair of eyes on it. The legend behind these portraits declares that she had them removed with a fork by Diocletian’s guards, where she then plucked them out herself because her suitor admired them so much. The legend goes on to say that St. Lucy’s sight was restored by God at the end of her life.
St. Lucy Catholic Parish, Ohio U.S.A St. Lucy, Patron Saint of Blindness
- Did you know that St Lucia is the second largest of the Windward Islands located in the eastern Caribbean Sea? The island was created because of volcanic activity and is 43 km (27 miles) long and 23 km (14 miles) wide.
- Did you know that St. Lucia’s main export is Bananas? In recent years, St. Lucia has mainly been engaged in the export of bananas, clothing, vegetables, cocoa and coconuts. In the past, St. Lucia’s biggest cultivation was of sugarcane, which was replaced by the cultivation of banana during the mid 1960’s. At present, it also has a strong tourism and fishing industry giving strength to this island nation’s economy.
- Did you know that Mount Gimie is the highest mountain in St Lucia at 950m, but it isn’t even the island’s second most famous peak? The two most famous are the stunningly dramatic Pitons. These two volcanic plugs, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, adorn countless tourist brochures and offer some of the most dramatic views in the Caribbean.
- Did you know that around the year 1600, the Dutch were the first to build Vieux Fort (or the old fort)? In the second half of the 18th century, the town was the center of St Lucia’s sugar industry; today it is more industrial. Part of Vieux Fort is called Black Bay. It got its name because legend has it that the infamous pirate Blackbeard used this part of the country to stash his ill-gotten gains. During the Second World War, Vieux Fort became a base for American troops. Some of the evidence can still be seen around town, such as the underground tunnel that runs from Clark Street all the way to St. Judes Hospital in Augier. This tunnel was used for storage of supplies and also a quick route to the hospital. Many people who reside in Vieux-Fort today have no idea about such a tunnel.
- Did you know that the island was heavily contested for 150 years by England and France? St. Lucia was battled over for fourteen (14) years, seven (7) times British, seven (7) times French. The period of these great and persistent battles was eventually won over and settled by England.
- Did you know that the official language of the nation is English? However, a creole dialect developed from historical times between the English an the French. This language is still widely spoken across St. Lucia today.
- Did you know that this small island-Saint Lucia has a mighty big history when it comes to producing Nobel Laureates? In fact per capita, we are second in the world of Nobel prizes with our two esteemed winners, Sir Arthur Lewis [Economics 1979] and Mr. Derek Walcott [Literature 1992]. Ironically, Sir Artur Lewis was awarded his Nobel prize in the same year that St. Lucia received her independence. Every year in January, the achievements of these two island scholars are celebrated during Nobel Laureates Week, under the patronage of Dame Pearlette Louisy, Saint Lucia’s Governor General.
Sir Arthur Lewis Sir Derek Walcott
- Did you know that St. Lucia is home to one of the most remarkable distilleriesin the region? Roseau Valley; famous for producing more than 25 types of rum and rum products to sample and purchase, from premium rums and liqueurs to traditional pouring rums. Although St. Lucia Distillers was established in the year 1932, our rum production has a rich history, dating back to the historical period of the Sugar Revolution in the seventeenth century. When sugar was introduced to the island in the late 1700’s, it revolutionized not only St. Lucian society, but the Caribbean as a whole. It was from then that these African slave labourers and Indian Indentured labourers who were brought to tend the labour intensive crop became the primary consumers for the island’s rum. The product was manufactured by the many small plantation distilleries from molasses, the by-product of their sugar production.
- Did you know that the Amazona Versicolor, also known as the St. Lucia Parrot or Jaquot, is endemic to St. Lucia and is the country’s national bird? These precious birds inhabit subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. The species had declined from around 1000 parrots in the 1950s to 150 parrots in the late 1970s. At that point a conservation program was established to save the species, which encouraged popular support, and by the year 1990 there was an increase 350 birds. Despite the small population in St. Lucia, the numbers of the Jaquot are still slowly expanding.