Saint Lucia became an independent nation on February 22, 1979. The 38th anniversary of the country’s independence will be celebrated island-wide with festivals, religious ceremonies, food, drink and merry-making. This day is a public holiday and most businesses will be closed.
Saint Lucia changed hands between European powerhouses France and Britain from 1674 to 1803 and officially was part of the British Empire in 1814. The rest of the 19th century saw the abolition of slavery and the incorporation of the island into the British Windward Islands administration.
The early 20th century marked the beginning of self-governance in Saint Lucia. In 1924, a constitution allowed Saint Lucia its first self-represented government. Departing from the nominated positions in the legislative council, a number of members were elected. In 1951, all adult Saint Lucians were given the right to vote and the majority of members were elected instead of appointed. In 1956 a ministerial government was introduced and Saint Lucia joined the West Indies Federation in 1958, though it dissolved in 1962. After a second attempt at creating a federation with some of the smaller islands, the United Kingdom and these islands formed an associated statehood whereby Saint Lucia was self-governed but its external affairs and defence lay with the U.K. This form of government lasted 12 years until the island’s independence in 1979.
Saint Lucia is now part of the Commonwealth, which recognises Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. Our nation is part of several other Caribbean organisations (CARICOM, ECCM and OECS) whereby we co-operate with our neighbouring islands.