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Saint Lucia gained independence on 22 February 1979. This module provides an overview of the key events on Saint Lucia's road to independence.

Road to Independence

Saint Lucia was named by Christopher Columbus, who sighted the island on St Lucy’s day 1502. The island has been much fought over. At some time before Columbus’s arrival, the Caribs ousted the Arawaks; and European powers contended with the Caribs and one another for control between 1660 and 1814; in that period the flag of Saint Lucia changed 14 times.

After unsuccessful early attempts by the Spanish to take control, possession of the island was disputed, often bloodily, by the French and British. A small English group made a failed attempt to settle in 1605; another English colony, started in 1638, was annihilated by the Caribs three years later.

The Caribs resisted French settlement with equal vigour, until a peace treaty (1660) with them permitted settlement, and ensured the safety of some French settlers from Martinique who had arrived during the preceding decade. The British made further attempts to gain control, and the island changed hands again and again, and was a focus for Anglo-French hostilities during the Napoleonic Wars. The British ultimately took possession under the Treaty of Paris in 1814, and Saint Lucia became a Crown colony.

A prosperous plantation economy developed; it was based on sugar, and worked by enslaved Africans until Britain abolished slavery in 1834.

The island was a member of the Windward Islands Federation until 1959. In 1959, Saint Lucia joined the West Indies Federation, under which it was proposed that the British Caribbean countries should proceed to independence as a federation. Disagreements among the larger members led to dissolution of the federation in 1962, and the larger members proceeded alone to independence.

In the West Indies Act of 1967, Saint Lucia received a new constitution, giving full internal self-government under universal franchise, as one of the states of the Federated States of the Antilles.

On 22 February 1979, Saint Lucia became independent, as a constitutional monarchy and member of the Commonwealth, with John Compton of the United Workers Party (UWP) as its first Prime Minister, and Sir Allen Montgomery Lewis as its first Governor-General.

Meaning of Independence

Saint Lucia becoming an independent nation, now meant that Britain, no longer controlled the affairs of the country. It was now the responsibility of the newly elected Prime Minister and the locally elected Cabinet. Independence also meant that a Constitution, symbols, emblems, an army, and passports had to be developed for the country. As an independent nation, Saint Lucia assigns Ambassadors overseas who represent the country. They sign treaties on behalf of Saint Lucia and become members of various international organisations. This is important, as it gives the country equal rights on various issues relating to international trade, policies and treaties.

Symbols of Independence

Since St. Lucia gained its independence in 22 February 1979, St. Lucians worldwide show their nationality and patriotism by proudly displaying or vocalizing the following which symbolizes their status and identity.

Click to enlarge The Coat of Arms of Saint Lucia

The coat of arms represents the official seal of the Government of Saint Lucia. The following is a brief description of the Coat of Arms.

The Tudor-Rose represents England

The Fleur-De-Lis represents France

The African Stool represents Africa

The Torch represents a Beacon to light the path

The Birds represent the National Bird - Amazona versicolor

The Bamboo Cross represents the National Plant

The Land, The People, The Light is The Motto

Designed by: Sydney Bagshaw

Click to enlarge The National Flag of Saint Lucia

The flag has four distinctive colours.

The cerulean blue in the flag represents fidelity. It also reflects our tropical sky and our surrounding waters, the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The gold in the flag represents the sunshine in the Caribbean as well as prosperity.

The black and white symbolize Saint Lucia's cultural influences. The white denotes our European heritage and the black denotes our African heritage. They represent the two races living and working in unity. The design represents the dominance of the African culture in relation to that of the European culture against a background of sunshine and blue sea. This is represented by the three triangles in the centre of the flag, symbolising three pitons.

The isosceles triangle is reminiscent of the island’s famous twin Pitons located in Soufriere, rising sheer out of the sea, towards the sky. They represent a symbol of the hope and the aspirations of our people.

Designed by: Dunstan St. Omer

Title Sons and Daughters of Saint Lucia
Composer Leton Felix Thomas
Lyricist Charles Jesse
Adopted 1967

Click to enlarge

The National Anthem of Saint Lucia

"Sons and Daughters of Saint Lucia" is the national anthem of Saint Lucia, first adopted in 1967 upon achieving self-government, and confirmed as the official anthem upon independence in 1979.

The lyrics were written by Charles Jesse, and the music by Leton Felix Thomas.

Sons and daughters of Saint Lucia,
love the land that gave us birth,
land of beaches, hills and valleys,
fairest isle of all the earth.
Wheresoever you may roam,
love, oh, love our island home.

Gone the times when nations battled
for this 'Helen of the West',
gone the days when strife and discord
Dimmed her children's toil and rest.
Dawns at last a brighter day,
stretches out a glad new way.

May the good Lord bless our island,
guard her sons from woe and harm,
may our people live united,
strong in soul and strong in arm!
Justice, Truth and Charity,
our ideal for ever be!

  The National Pledge of Saint Lucia

With God as my guide, I pledge allegiance to my country, Saint Lucia. I proclaim that I will serve my country with pride and dignity and will defend it with vigour and valour in the pursuit of excellence, justice and equality for all.

Written by Jeff "Pelay" Elva

Click to enlarge The National Bird of Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia's national bird is the Amazona versicolor, found only in Saint Lucia.

It is predominantly green in colour, and a typical specimen has a cobalt blue forehead merging through turquoise to green on the cheeks and a scarlet breast. There are no visible differences between the two sexes. In former times this bird was not as rare as it is today.

In 1902 it was described it as "not uncommon in the high woods of Saint Lucia." Whilst in 1928 Bond wrote about this parrot, "Occurs in some numbers in the mountains of Saint Lucia from La Sorciere, south along the backbone ridge."

In 1979 the Saint Lucia Parrot was declared the island’s National Bird and in 1980 wildlife legislation was revised.

Saint Lucia Road to Independence
Vive Saint Lucia: Footage of Pre and Post-Independent Saint Lucia
Download The Saint Lucia Constitution Order 1978
Download The Saint Lucia Termination of Association Order 1978
Download Recent Independence Addresses
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