26 Interesting Facts About Saint Lucia

by Janis on November 22, 2016

In anticipation of an upcoming visit to Saint Lucia, we wanted to learn more about this sovereign island country in the Caribbean located northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean.

Map of Saint Lucia. Created by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)26 Interesting and Fun Facts About Saint Lucia

1. Covering 238.23 square miles, Saint Lucia is three and a half times the size of Washington, DC. The island is 27 miles long and 14 miles across at its widest point.

2. About 165,000 people live in St. Lucia, most around the coastal perimeter of the mountainous island. About 60,000 people live in or near Castries, the capital city on the northern part of the island.

View of Saint Lucia from Pigeon Island.

View of Saint Lucia from Pigeon Island.

3. Saint Lucia is said to be named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by French sailors who were shipwrecked on the island on the Saint’s feast day of December 13th.

4. Saint Lucia is the world’s only country named after a woman.

5. The French were the island’s first European settlers. They signed a treaty with the native Carib Indians in 1660.

6. England took control of the island from 1663 to 1667.

7. France and England fought over Saint Lucia throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries with possession changing 14 times between the two countries. Because it switched so often between British and French control, Saint Lucia was also known as the “Helen of the West Indies“.

8. In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island.

9. From 1958 to 1962, the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. On February 22, 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations associated with the United Kingdom.

10. As a Commonwealth realm, Saint Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and shares Queen Elizabeth the II as its head of state and reigning constitutional monarch, but retains a crown legally distinct from the other 15 realms. (Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Tuvalu, Barbados and the United Kingdom are some of the other Commonwealth realms.)

Dame Pearlette Louisy at her desk at Government House in Castries, St. Lucia. Photo by Albert Sydney.

Dame Pearlette Louisy at her desk at Government House in Castries, St. Lucia. Photo by Albert Sydney.

11. As the Head of State of Saint Lucia, Queen Elizabeth II is represented on the island by an appointed Governor-General. Dame Pearlette Louisy, who took office on September 17, 1997, is the current Governor-General of Saint Lucia.

12. The Government House, located on the crest of Morne Fortune near Castries, is the official residence of the Governor-General of Saint Lucia.

13. Although slavery was abolished on it plantations in 1834, Saint Lucia remained an agricultural island focused on producing sugarcane.  In 1964, sugarcane fields were converted to banana production. Today bananas are the island’s principal agricultural crop, along with the production of coconuts, cacao, citrus, spices, cassava, yams, and a steady fishing industry.

14. Tourism — developed rapidly since 1970 — is vital to Saint Lucia’s economy. The largest number of visitors to Saint Lucia arrive by cruise ship.

15. Saint Lucia’s currency is the East Caribbean Dollar, a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECU). $1 U.S. dollar is worth about 2.70 XCD (Eastern Caribbean Dollars.)

16. While English is the official language of Saint Lucia, Saint Lucian Creole French (Kwéyòl) or Patois (“Patwa”) is spoken by 95 percent of the population.

17. More mountainous than most Caribbean islands, St. Lucia is of volcanic origin.  Rising to 3,145 feet, Mount Gimie is the island’s highest point among a ridge of wooded mountains bisecting the island from north to south.

18. Two other mountains form the Pitons, St. Lucia’s most famous landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Gros and Petit Pitons are two rock pyramids rising sharply from the sea and enclosing a small bay. They are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge.

A bottle of Piton Beer held with a view of the Gros Piton and Petit Peton twin peaks in the background. Photo by Aneil Lutchman.

A bottle of Piton Beer held with a view of the Gros Piton and Petit Peton twin peaks in the background. Photo by Aneil Lutchman.

19. Piton beer is a local pilsner lager named for the Gros Piton and Petit Piton mountains. While the Piton beer brand is owned by Heineken, it is brewed in brewed in Saint Lucia and commands more that 50 percent of the island’s lager beer market share.

20. The town of Soufrière — French for sulfur — takes its name from the boiling Sulphur Springs in the crater of an ancient volcano near Petit Piton.

21. An upheaval of lava through a weak spot in a collapsed crater 410,000 years ago created the Sulpher Springs. At their center, scalding hot boiling water creates large plumes of steam. The water coming out of the springs is blackened by a reaction between the sulfur and iron.

22. Promoted as the “world’s only drive in volcano,” tourists can literally drive up to the edge of Sulpher Springs. Up until the mid-1990s, tourists were able to walk right up to the end of the tar-colored pits. This changed after a local guide named Gabriel fell through the crust into a pit and was burned. Now, visitors are restricted to viewing “Gabriel’s Hole” from a platform a few hundred feet away.

23. The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival each May draws visitors and musicians from around the world. The Festival’s grand finale takes place on Pigeon Island, located north of the main island of St. Lucia.

24. Saint Lucia’s cuisine includes flavors from West Africa, Great Britain, France and East India. Hearty fish soups, macaroni pie, and stewed chicken are popular dishes. Common ingredients include potatoes, onions, celery, thyme, coconut milk, spicy scotch bonnet peppers, flour and cornmeal.

25. The island is also home to fried or baked dough referred to as ‘Johnny Cake’ and often served with salt fish sauteed with peppers and onions.

26. With two Nobel prize winners, Saint Lucia boasts the world’s second highest ratio of Nobel laureates compared to the total population. Sir Arthur Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979, and poet Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.

What fun fact about St. Lucia can you add to this list? Please share your thoughts in comments below, or by interacting with us on TwitterFacebookPinterest or Instagram.

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Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol HotelIn July, we spent the last night of our 3-night post-cruise visit in the Netherlands at the new Hilton Amsterdam Schiphol Airport hotel. As with previous stays, we find this airport hotel very convenient for a 1-night stay before a morning flight out of Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol airport.

The reverse is also true: the new hotel is an oasis for travelers with late-night arrivals into Schiphol.

Hilton sign from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol directing travelers to Hilton HotelTo reach the Hilton hotel, you just follow the signs along an enclosed walkway from the baggage claim area of the Schiphol airport.

Alternatively, if you are transferring to the hotel from downtown Amsterdam, your driver will deliver you to the hotel’s front door.

In our case, we used Uber to transport us from the Hilton Amsterdam Hotel (where we had stayed two nights) to the Hilton airport hotel for our last night in Amsterdam.

view looking up to the sky at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport SchipholWhen you first walk into the new Hilton Amsterdam hotel at Schiphol airport, the light draws your eyes upward where you can see the sky through a glass roof.

looking down over lobby, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel Once checked into our room, we took a moment to look down over the hotel lobby. In the upper left-hand corner of the photo above you can see the Axis Lobby & Cocktail Bar, where we later enjoyed a light meal and cocktails.

Axis is clearly not your standard airport hotel bar, as evidenced by the detailed Gin and Jenever menu that includes gin tasting flights. It’s nice to experience a little Dutch culture at the airport.

King bed, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel We stayed in a King Executive Room, with access to the 11th floor Executive Lounge. The rooms have a bright, contemporary design.

desk and sitting area, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel Each detail, whether the desk or the sitting area or the corner coffee station are designed with a frequent traveler’s needs in mind. Yet the stylish decor is far from your standard airport hotel.

view from diamond-shaped window, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel While the view from our room’s diamond-shaped windows showed just how close we were to Schiphol’s busy runways, we could not hear a sound. Excellent sound-proofing is invaluable when you only have a few hours for sleeping before an early flight.

bathroom, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel Another surprise: behind the gold door was a sizable bathroom, compared to most airport hotels.

shower, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel Complete with an over-sized glassed-enclosed shower, complete with a rain head.

If this shower doesn’t provide enough stress relief, the hotel also offers a full range of massages, facials and other treatments at the Eforea Spa.

Or guests can fit in a workout at the hotel’s 24-hour Fitness Center.

Dutch art, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel We also appreciated the art throughout the public spaces of the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel.

colorful flowers, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel Impressive bouquets of colorful, fresh flowers are another reminder that you are in the Netherlands, the world’s flower trading powerhouse. The world’s largest flower market is at Aalsmeer, a Dutch town only eight miles from Amsterdam.

view from enclosed walkway to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol After a good night’s sleep, we walked about 15 minutes via the enclosed walkway from the Hilton hotel directly into the Schiphol Airport to catch our departing flight. It was a relaxing experience compared to leaving a downtown hotel in the early dawn hours to reach the airport.

Staying at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel with Hilton HHonors Points

We stayed at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel using Hilton HHonors Points. As a Category 7 hotel, a single night costs 30,000-60,000 Hilton HHonors points, depending on the time of year as well as supply versus demand. Even at the high end of this point range, we consider this hotel to be a good use of HHonors points.

Our bottom line on the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel:

  • The hotel has a terrific location for travelers arriving into Amsterdam Schiphol late in the evening or needing to depart on an early morning flight. From the airport arrivals area, you simply walk to the hotel via an enclosed walkway by following signs to the Hilton hotel.
  • The new hotel features stunning design and contemporary decor with all of the latest amenities.
  • The Executive Lounge provides terrific views for enjoying evening appetizers and cocktails. Breakfast is offered to Hilton Diamond members in the lounge or in at the first floor Bowery Restaurant.
  • The soundproofing at this hotel, crucial for one so close to a busy airport, is impeccable.
  • The only downside we found was that hotel temperature was a little warm for a sunny, July day.

Have you stayed in the new Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel? How would you rate it?

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