St. Lucia (pronounced LOO-sha) is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, with some of its finest resorts. The heaviest tourist development is concentrated in the northwest, between the capital, Castries, and the northern end of the island, where there's a string of white-sand beaches.
The rest of St. Lucia remains relatively unspoiled, a checkerboard of green-mantled mountains, valleys, banana plantations, a bubbling volcano, wild orchids, and fishing villages. The island has a mixed French and British heritage, but there's a hint of the South Pacific about it as well.
A mountainous island of some 623 sq. km (240 sq. miles), St. Lucia has about 120,000 inhabitants. The capital, Castries, is built on the southern shore of a large harbor surrounded by hills.
Writer Derek Walcott was born in Castries. His father was an unpublished poet who died when Walcott was just a year old, and his mother was a former headmistress at the Methodist school on St. Lucia. In 1992, Walcott won the Nobel Prize for literature. He prefers, however, not to tout the charms of St. Lucia, telling the press, "I don't want everyone to go there and overrun the place." Alas, his warning has come too late.
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