Time difference: GMT - 4.
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (although US Dollars are widely accepted).
Language: English. A French-based creole language is spoken by many islanders.
Population: Approximately 180000.
Visa information: Holders of a British passport can stay for 90 days without a visa.
St Lucia’s main airport is Hewanorra International Airport in the south of the island, while George F. L. Charles Airport is located in the north and is a destination for inter-Caribbean flights.
There are regular direct flights to St Lucia from London Gatwick (flight time 8-9 hours) - British Airways flies daily and Virgin Atlantic flies four or five times per week.
Outbound flights leave the UK in the morning and land in St Lucia early afternoon, while return flights leave St Lucia in the evening and land in the UK the following morning. There are weekly Thomas Cook flights to St Lucia from Manchester during the winter season and Thomson will offer weekly or fortnightly flights from London Gatwick from May 2017.
Visitors to St Lucia can easily get around by taxi or local bus. It is also possible to hire a car - driving is on the left.
It is believed that the first settlers on St Lucia were the Arawaks who arrived in dugout canoes from South America in around 200AD. The remains of paintings and pottery have been found, while some words are still used today that have their origins in this native language. The Arawaks were overruled by the ferocious Caribs who arrived in about 800AD and called the island Hewanorra.
The Europeans arrived in the Caribbean in the early 1500s, wrestling with the Caribs for power over the course of the next few centuries. The Spanish, French and British all attempted to take possession of the island, with the British finally succeeding in making the island a Crown colony in the early 1800s.
By this stage the sugar trade was well established, largely due to the West African slaves that were introduced in the 1760's. For several years the island was stable and prosperous, but following emancipation in 1834, the sugar estates fell into disrepair. The economy recovered and over the next century the island became a stable democracy and multicultural society.
St Lucia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979, although the country remains part of the Commonwealth.
Tourism is St Lucia’s most important industry, while agriculture is still a major source of income.