Tranquil island lifestyle in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is a small island located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It boasts a typical island lifestyle of sand, sea, and a laidback attitude. Despite its small size, the island possesses a special diversity when it comes to geography and biodiversity. Living in Saint Lucia comes with the perks of enjoying excellent beaches, scenic waterfalls, mountains, rainforests, and countless exotic flora and fauna. The twin mountain peaks of Les Piton drop dramatically to the water’s edge on the island’s western coast. In the south, one encounters lava pools and vents steaming sulfur-based gases at the Sulphur Springs Volcano. Other points of interest include the Diamond Waterfall and the Mineral Baths.
The turquoise waters that surround the island of Saint Lucia mean that visitors to the island and those living in Saint Lucia can engage in a variety of water activities like fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, snub, sea trekking, snorkelling, and swimming, to their hearts’ content. Those after an adrenaline rush can ride or hike along the coast or up into the mountains; something which can also be performed on horseback. Food lovers can indulge in their food and drink pleasures at several different bars and restaurants, through which one can take a trip down Saint Lucia’s history.
Newcomers living in Saint Lucia are more often than not welcomed with open arms by the charming locals. The island’s history is exemplified in the authentic cultural activities one may choose to partake in when living in Saint Lucia. These include, under the auspices of the local communities, traditional dances and cassava making. The Saint Lucian carnival includes costuming, parades, Calypso contests, queen contests, and other celebrations. There is also the Creole Day, a week-long festival celebrating traditional music, dance, storytelling, costuming, crafts, and the intriguing Creole language. Then there are colourful flower festivals like La Rose and La Marguerite, observed annually in many villages on feast days dedicated to patron saints Saint Rose de Lima and Saint Marguerite d'Youville.
Furthermore, Saint Lucia’s good diplomatic relations with other states and membership of multiple international organisations such as the Commonwealth of Nations, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the International Francophone Organisation ensure that the tiny island is seldom alone on the international plane.
Saint Lucia’s Economy
Agriculture, specifically the banana industry, were historically the main source of income for the Saint Lucian populace. However, the focus on commercial export-driven manufacturing has resulted in consumption of local produce suffering in recent years, leaving it at a paltry 2.9% share of the country’s GDP.
Industry and tourism have consequently risen in importance contributing to 14% and 83% of GDP respectively. This is a result of US and EU trade preferences, and the government’s interest in economic diversification with well-developed manufacturing. The offshore financial services sector is also gaining steam due to its sound regulation. Import and export trade, totalling more than 100% of GDP, are subject to the average tariff rate of 7.8%. However, there are some barriers that impinge on trade due to excessive red tape that acts as a deterrent. The banking sector is also limited, and access to financing can be quite difficult.
Vigorous Real Estate market in Saint Lucia
Because of an increase in tourism and the government’s introduction of the citizenship by investment program, Saint Lucia’s property market is booming. Most buyers come from the US, Canada, and the UK. Aside from an increased interest from foreign property buyers, developers and investors are also starting to turn their eyes towards Saint Lucia. This has diversified the property market from a buyers’ market to a sellers’ one. Residential property prices vary from USD 700,000 to USD 15,000,000. Most luxury homes are in the USD 2,000,000 range. On the lower end of the market, there has been a constant demand and strong property prices, with prices of certain condominiums ranging from USD 200,000 to USD 550,000.
Living in Saint Lucia- Health
Saint Lucia has two public hospitals: St Jude’s Hospital and Victoria Hospital. There are district hospitals at Vieux Fort, Dennery, and Soufriere that offer primary healthcare services and limited secondary healthcare and emergency services. To the benefit of those living in Saint Lucia, there are also more than thirty smaller health centres. Saint Lucia only has one privately run hospital, besides several other private facilities that provide specialised medical and dental services. The situation however, is improving, with the total expenditure on healthcare being 6.7% of the GDP. This is still relatively low when compared to other states’, nonetheless, the WHO gave Saint Lucia’s healthcare system an upper-middle classification. This is testament to the system’s good standing.
Living in Saint Lucia- Education
Saint Lucia’s education system is based on its British counterpart, with ample schooling options consisting of 150 preschools, 33 day-care centres, 75 primary schools, 24 secondary schools, 5 special education schools, 7 private primary schools, and 3 private secondary schools. For those living in Saint Lucia, education is compulsory up until the age of 16.
At the end of the seventh grade, students take the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) to determine their placement for additional compulsory schooling. Students choose which secondary school they wish to enrol at, and the higher the CEE scores, the wider their choice of schools is.
Many students continue at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College which offers two-year certificated degrees in several areas. The University of the West Indies has a branch in Saint Lucia which provides for the first two years of a degree program. Afterwards, students can complete their studies at the main campuses in either Jamaica or Barbados.
Security in Saint Lucia
Corruption is not rampant in Saint Lucia’s justice system. In fact, it sits at 48th place out of 180 in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). However, there is a serious backlog of ongoing cases. Such delays exacerbate prison overcrowding, with almost half of detainees on remand or being detained pending trial. In the security sector, while the police force enjoys a high public confidence, there are some concerns about police abuse. When combined with the judiciary’s inefficiencies, these have hindered Saint Lucia’s efforts to tackle crime. To the government’s credit, the police force is undergoing modernisation, with improvements to police conduct, vetting procedures, and assisting measures to cut the judicial backlog. These are all aimed at the improvement of institutional capacities.