Recommend July 2018 - 24

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, located in Derek Walcott Square in Castries.

Inspiring History
Ancient Arawaks and Caribs inhabited Saint Lucia long before the
arrival of the Europeans. Some archaeological finds have been
dated back to 1000 B.C. The Caribs arrived around A.D. 800,
conquering the peaceful Arawaks and assimilating them into
Carib culture. The Caribs would live on Saint Lucia through the
ferocious 16th century piracy period with Francois le Clerc. Even
though their numbers dwindled, they lived in Saint Lucia until well
into the 18th century. While local lore often points to Christopher
Columbus having touched land here, actual records show that
during his four visits to the New World, Saint Lucia was not on his
navigational charts. However, 67 English settlers arrived here in
1605, blown off course on their journey to Guyana. Within a few
weeks, the Caribs had massacred most of them, only allowing 19
survivors to leave the island in a dug-out canoe. Over the next two
centuries, England and France battled over possession of Saint
Lucia, with the island changing flags 14 times. It was the French,
however, who secured the first lasting European settlement at
Soufriere in 1746. Capitalizing on the area's fertile soil, estates
were swiftly established and slaves were brought in from Africa
to work the land, starting with cotton and tobacco plantations
and later adding sugar, which became the most profitable export.
(Today, bananas dominate the plantation landscapes.)
Saint Lucia's colonial history, however, continued to seesaw
back and forth between conquering powers, as a British invasion
succeeded in 1778, establishing naval bases at Gros Islet and
10

Pigeon Island. England finally got the permanent upper hand in 1815,
under terms of the Treaty of Paris. And under the British, the 1838
Emancipation freed the slaves, giving them the right to own their
own property, although many families chose to remain at the estates
as free men. Fast-forward over a century to 1967 when Saint Lucia
gained internal autonomy, and then to February 22, 1979, when
the island achieved full independence, with the official status of an
independent state within the British Commonwealth.
Taking a close look at the Saint Lucia we know today-measuring
approximately three times the land mass of Washington, D.C. or
one-sixth of Rhode Island-we find that: while Great Britain
contributed the official language, political structure, educational and
legal systems, it is the French and African influence that dominates
this island-nation's cultural grass roots-its village names and villager
surnames, its French patois created by African slaves, Catholicism,
cuisine, music and the arts in general. Tune into the heart and soul of
the country, and you discover a colorful and homegrown melange
of English, French, African, Carib-Indian and East Indian cultures.
And for today's visitors, Saint Lucia presents many captivating
reminders-from Arawak inscriptions to military sites and plantation
estates-of her often turbulent, colorful and multi-cultural past.
Consider an essential sampling:
✦ Jutting out from the northwest coast, Pigeon Island was used
by the French in the mid-16th century as a base for raiding passing
Spanish ships. Two centuries later, British Admiral George Rodney



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