The Economy of St. Lucia

The economy of St. Lucia has been agricultural until recent years

Photo credit: © Aliaksandr Nikitsin |

St. Lucia's Economy

St. Lucia's economy didn't really get started until the Europeans wrested control of the island from the Carib Indians. However, even then the island changed hands between the British and French for more than a century, and the island's economy took some time to settle.

Early Options

The earliest trade on St. Lucia was, in fact, piracy. French pirate Jambe de Bois made his home on an island just off the northern coast of St. Lucia. However, the first commerce of the island came from sugarcane production.

Slaves from West Africa were imported for use on sugar plantations until the British emancipated them in the early 1800s. Later, East Indian indentured servants were imported for work on the sugar plantations. However, the population of the island is still 90% of African descent.

Banana Trade


In 1925 bananas became an important part of the island's economy. Exporting bananas came to be the most important trade of St. Lucia, but didn't fully take hold until the mid-1900s. In the 1950s, the sugar trade also began to decline, and the rise in the banana trade quickly began to bolster the island's economy.

In the mid-1990s, the banana trade on St. Lucia took a knock from the European Union. The EU announced that it would no longer offer preference to Windward Island bananas for purchasing. This preference was scheduled to be phased out by 2006.

Tourism Takeover

Tourism has been on the increase to this beautiful island. However, the events of September 11, 2001, as well as several hurricanes, have caused some setbacks in the tourism industry.

However, eco-tourists greatly enjoy everything St. Lucia has to offer. Its beauty is seen everywhere from the iconic Pitons to the offshore coral reefs. However, resorts have not always followed environmentally sound guidelines.

St. Lucia's economy also includes other fruiting trees and some international banking. However, the island has gotten some negative comments for its banking and commerce laws, which it vows to clean up by 2006.

The economy of St. Lucia is balanced between many different industries. However, the growth of its tourism industry is tied to the island's natural beauty.


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