1. Castries is both the capital and the largest city of Saint Lucia, a sovereign island country in the Caribbean.
2. Saint Lucia is divided into 11 quarters. One of those quarters is named Castries, sharing the same name as the capital city located with its boundaries.
3. While about 20,000 people live in the city of Castries, between 60-70,000 live in the Castries quarter, an area that covers an area of 31 square miles.
4. The city of Castries is built in a grid pattern on reclaimed land.
5. Castries was founded by the French in 1650 when St. Lucia was purchased by Jacques Dyel du Parquet, the governor of Martinique. The quarter was named “Carénage” meaning “safe anchorage.”
6. In 1756, the Carenage quarter of the island was renamed “Castries” after Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix de Castries, who commanded the French expeditionary force sent to St Lucia.
7. While France and England fought over Saint Lucia throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, it was the British who built Castries into a major navel port between 1803 and 1844. The British protected this port with major fortifications on Morne Fortune, the hilltop overlooking the Castries harbor.
8. By 1900, Castries had become a major coaling station because it was the only Caribbean port capable of accommodating the British Royal Navy.
9. Castries saw action during During World War II. In 1942, a German U-boat sailed into the Castries harbor and sank two allied ships in 1942, including the Canadian ocean liner RMS Lady Nelson.
10. Today, Castries is a port of call for cruise ships bringing approximately 600,000 visitors to Saint Lucia each year. The cruise ship passengers arrive through Pointe Seraphine, a duty-free shopping center at at the Castries Cruise Terminal.
11. While Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State of Saint Lucia, she is represented on the island by an appointed Governor-General. The Government House, located on Morne Fortune near Castries, is the official residence of the Governor-General of Saint Lucia.
12. In addition to being the capital city of Saint Lucia, Castries hosts the secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
13. A number of international embassies and consulates are headquartered in Castries including the British High Commission and the Embassies of Brazil, France, Mexico, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Venezuela. The Dominican Republic Consulate, Italian Vice Consulate, Jamaican Consulate, Netherlands Consulate and the Norwegian Consulate are also located in Castries.
14. The former Columbus Square at the center of downtown Castries was renamed Derek Walcott Square to honor the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Derek Walcott. Born in Castries on January 23, 1930, Mr. Walcott is a Saint Lucia poet and playwright whose works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros.
15. Castries is also the birthplace of Arthur Lewis, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Economics.
16. Castries is served by George F. L. Charles Airport, also known as Vigie Airport. When cruise ships sail by, the airport’s runway must be closed. Hewanorra International Airport, near Vieux-Fort, is the island’s major international airport.
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