Before the visitor influx, banana exports sustained St Lucia, especially after 1964 when it stopped producing sugar cane.
with other Caribbean producers it benefited from preferred access to
European markets, at the expense of Latin American growers. The World
Trade Organisation has ruled that the practice should be phased out.
The volcanic peaks of the Pitons feature on the national flag
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Pearlette Louisy
Prime minister: Stephenson King
Stephenson King was sworn in as prime minister in September 2007, following the death of veteran leader Sir John Compton.
Mr King served as acting prime minister for several months during Sir John's illness.
King was chosen as successor by MPs of his ruling United Workers Party
(UWP). Under the constitution, the Governor General appoints as prime
minister the MP who commands the confidence of the majority of elected
members of parliament.
Sir John Compton helped guide St Lucia
to independence from Britain and infuriated China by restoring ties
with Taiwan. He was prime minister three times, from 1964 to 1979, 1982
to 1996 and from December 2006 until his death at the age of 82.