Island nation, second largest of the Windward Island s, in the West Indies between Martinique and St.Vincent. It was probably discovered by Columbus in 1502. In the early 17th century the English tried to colonize it, but the Carib Indians beat them off. The French settled here in 1650 and 10 years later made a treaty with the Caribs. The French and British fought over St. Lucia until the early 19th century; it became permanently British in 1803. During World War II Great Britain leased a naval base here to the United States.
From 1958 to 1962 the island was part of the Federation of the West Indies, and in 1967 it became one of the six Associated States of the West Indies with internal self-government. St. Lucia became independent, and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, in 1979. John Compton of the conservative United Workers’ Party was the first prime minister from 1982 to 1996. Kenny Anthony of the Labor Party has been prime minister since 1997. French culture remains strong. The population, mostly of black African descent, speak a French patois. Castries is the capital.