St. Lucia island History
The first people to settle on St. Lucia island were an Indian group native to South America, who paddled across the Caribbean to St. Lucia island in the early 2nd century. While successive seafaring tribes took turns controlling St. Lucia island over the next thousand years or so, the first Europeans colonists didn't make their way to St. Lucia island until nearly the 17th century. An opportunistic pirate nicknamed Jambe de Bois (Wooden Leg) set up camp on Pigeon Island, just off the northern shore of St. Lucia island, as a base from which to attack and plunder gold-laden ships passing through en route to Europe. Further attempts to colonize St. Lucia island, this time by a more honest bunch of English drifters, were thwarted by the Arawak Indians who remained there and wanted to keep St. Lucia island free of European occupation. The first permanent colony on St. Lucia island was finally established after it was purchased by the French West India Company in 1651.
St. Lucia island changed hands fourteen times between the English and the French before the British gained ultimate control of the island in 1814. Sugar plantations allowed St. Lucia island to prosper economically for several years, until the abolishment of slavery sent the industry into a steady decline. St. Lucia island's economy only rebounded in the 1960s, when booming banana plantations and increasing tourist revenue spurred economic growth. Stability led to a move for independence, which was achieved in 1979 when St. Lucia island became a country on its own under the British Commonwealth. Today, nearly 200,000 people inhabit St. Lucia island, most descendent from the country's original 19th century African laborers. Though St. Lucia island is officially English in language, law, and custom, remnants of its French past can be seen in many elements of the culture here.
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