Official name: Saint Lucia
Area: 620 square kilometers (239 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Gimie (950 meters/3,117 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Northern and Western
Time zone: 8 A.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 43 kilometers (27 miles) from north to south; 23 kilometers (14 miles) from east to west
Land boundaries: None
Coastline: 158 kilometers (98 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
1 LOCATION AND SIZE
Saint Lucia, located in the eastern Caribbean Sea between Martinique and Saint Vincent, is the second-largest of the Windward Islands. With an area of 620 square kilometers (239 square miles), Saint Lucia is almost three-anda-half times as large as Washington, D.C.
2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES
Saint Lucia has no territories or dependencies.
Saint Lucia's tropical climate is moderated by trade winds off the Atlantic Ocean. The mean temperature year-round is about 27°C (80°F). Hurricanes are a hazard in the late summer months of June, July, and August.
Average annual rainfall ranges from about 127 centimeters (50 inches) in the coastal areas to as much as 381 centimeters (150 inches) at higher elevations in the interior. The wet season lasts from June to September, and the dry season runs from February to May.
4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS
The volcanically formed island consists of mountains and hills in the interior, surrounded by a coastal strip.
5 OCEANS AND SEAS
Saint Lucia is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Seacoast and Undersea Features
The harbor waters at the port of Castries are 8 meters (27 feet) deep, but the underwater geography around the island varies drastically. There are extensive coral reefs, underwater cliffs, walls, and mountains in the waters surrounding Saint Lucia.
Sea Inlets and Straits
Saint Lucia is separated from Martinique to the north by the Saint Lucia Channel, and from Saint Vincent to the south by the Saint Vincent Passage.
Islands and Archipelagos
Other than the main island, Saint Lucia also includes the Maria Islands, located off the southeast coast. The Maria Islands contain a nature reserve.
Saint Lucia has two major ports: Castries and Vieux Fort. The eastern coast has many small indentations, while the western coast is mostly smoother, with major indentations at the port of Castries in the northwest and Soufrière Bay in the southwest, at which the mountain peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton are located. The island has two major capes, Cap Point at its northern tip and Cape Moule à Chique at its southern one. Saint Lucia is known for its many scenic beaches, some of which are covered with black volcanic sand.
6 INLAND LAKES
Saint Lucia has no sizable lakes.
7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
A number of small rivers flow outward from the central highlands to the coast. The principal ones are the Cul de Sac, Canelles, Dennery, Fond, Piaye, Doree, Canaries, Roseau, and Marquis Rivers.
There are no deserts on Saint Lucia.
9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN
A narrow strip of coastal plains fringe the exterior perimeter of Saint Lucia, giving way to foothills further inland. The northern half of the island is hillier, while the southern half is more mountainous.
10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES
The cone-like twin summits of Gros Piton and Petit Piton are Saint Lucia's outstanding natural feature. Mountains occupy much of the country's interior, spanning the island from north to south. Although the highest elevation is in the south-central part of the island, where Mt. Gimie reaches a height of 950 meters (3,117 feet), the country's best-known peaks are Gros Piton and Petit Piton. These pyramids of volcanic rock rise out of the ocean at Soufrière Bay on the southwest coast, at elevations of 798 meters (2,619 feet) and 750 meters (2,461 feet), respectively.
11 CANYONS AND CAVES
There are underwater caves carved out of Saint Lucia's coral reefs, which are a popular site for divers.
12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS
Saint Lucia has no plateaus and no significant monoliths.
13 MAN-MADE FEATURES
The 91-meter- (300-foot-) deep Roseau Dam, completed in 1995, has a capacity of more than 2.6 billion liters (700 million gallons) of water. The Castries/Cul de Sac highway tunnel, completed early in 2000 and nicknamed the Millennium Highway, connects the city of Castries with the valley of the Cul de Sac River.
14 FURTHER READING
Eggleston, George Teeple. Orchids on the Calabash Tree. New York: Putnam, 1962.
Ellis, G. Saint Lucia: Helen of the West Indies . London: Macmillan, 1988.
Kingsolver, Barbara. Homeland and Other Stories . Rockland, MA: Wheeler Publishing, 1989.
Nieminen, Raija. Voyage to the Island . Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1990.
Philpott, Don. Saint Lucia. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1996.
Lonely Planet: Destination St. Lucia. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/caribbean/saint_lucia/obt.htm (accessed May 5, 2003).
"Saint Lucia: Simply Beautiful." Interknowledge Corporation. http://www.st-lucia.com (accessed May 5, 2003).