European settlement in Saint Lucia gained a foothold in the early 1700s. In 1763, under French rule, sugar cane was introduced as a commercial crop and the first sugar factory opened in Vieux Fort on April 15th, 1763. Sugar remained the main product of this quarter until WWII. The years following the introduction of this crop have been noted by some historians as the most prosperous of Saint Lucian history with hundreds of sugar mills springing up island-wide.
Previous crops were economically low-end, while sugar was premium. As the sugar fields became larger, spreading throughout many of the islands, the demand for labour increased, and thus the transatlantic slave trade triangle developed.