Economics

What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Saint Lucia?

Beautiful natural scenery is Saint Lucia's biggest natural resource.

Saint Lucia is an island country in the West Indies located in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The island is part of the Lesser Antilles and is bordered by Saint Vincent to the south, Barbados to the southeast, and Martinique to the north. Saint Lucia is a volcanic island and is more mountainous than most of the islands in the Caribbean. The country’s highest point is Mount Gimie at an elevation of 3,120 feet above the sea level. Saint Lucia has a total land area of approximately 238 square miles, making it the 178th most extensive country in the world. As of 2010 census, it has a population of 165,595. The capital and the largest city on the island is Castries where about 32% of the population lives. Other major towns include Vieux Fort, Soufriere, and Gros Islet. Saint Lucia experiences tropical climate, moderated by the northeast trade wind.

Overview Of The Economy And Natural Resources

Saint Lucia is categorized as a Small Island Developing State by the United Nations. This designation is a developing nation with the difference being the fact that Saint Lucia is an island nation. The largest sector in the country is the service sector which accounts for 82.8% of the GDP, followed by industry and agriculture. The country’s educated labor force, improved infrastructure, water supply, and the availability of port facilities have attracted foreign investment, especially in tourism and petroleum sectors. Its manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean. Saint Lucia does not have a lot of natural resources, considering its size and location. Actually, its major resource is its natural beauty. The country also has extensive forests, wind, and mineral springs. Here are some of Saint Lucia’s natural resources.

Beaches

Tourism and agriculture are the major components of the economy of Saint Lucia. Like most countries in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia does not have large deposits of minerals. However, its greatest asset is scenic beauty. Amid environmental concerns, tourism has become more important to the growing economy. Located in the Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean, Saint Lucia has a 158 km long coastline dotted with some of the most beautiful, white, sandy beaches and coral reefs, making it a tourist hub. The country attracts about one million visitors annually, with the majority of the visitors coming to explore the tropical climate and the soft sandy beaches. Saint Lucia’s beaches are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Jalousie Bay in Soufriere was ranked among the Top 50 Central American and Caribbean Beaches by the FlightNetWork, one of the largest online travel publications in the world. Other popular beaches in Saint Lucia include the Reduit Beach, Anse Chastanet, Pigeon Island National Landmark, Grand Anse, Anse Louvert, and Marigot Bay. Some of the common activities along these beaches include sunbathing, sandbathing, strolling and swimming.

Banana Farming

Apart from tourism, Saint Lucia’s economy also depends on agriculture, especially banana farming. Like in most of the Windward Islands, the banana industry in Saint Lucia developed in the early 1950s following the collapse of the sugar industry. The banana industry is important in Saint Lucia, employing about 30,000 people directly or indirectly. The country has been the largest banana exporter in the Windward Islands. The island country accounts for over 40% of the Windward Islands production. Banana is cultivated throughout the island country with some sources estimating that 750 farmers are actively involved in the production that is mainly concentrated in the Mabouya Valley. The areas are well suited for banana production because of adequate rainfall. The area under banana plantation is approximately 6,000 hectares or 50% of the agricultural land. Banana, which is the main crop in Saint Lucia, accounts for 96% of the total agricultural export and about 60% of the domestic production. In 2016, Saint Lucia’s banana exports were approximately US$ 7 million. However, between 2010 and 2017, the country has experienced a decline in banana export from US$ 26 million to US$ 7 million. Saint Lucia mainly exports its bananas to the UK

Forestry

Saint Lucia is a fairly forested country with a rain forest which provides a rich habitat for species endemic to the island. According to FAO, 77% of the country or approximately 47,000 hectares of land is forested. Of the forested land, 12,000 hectares is classified as primary forest, with 7,487 hectares contained within the protected area. Between 1990 and 2010, Saint Lucia lost about 0.34% of forest per year. The country’s natural vegetation is classified into seven groups namely Elfin woodland, secondary forest, montane thicket, rainforest, lower montane rainforest, savannah and grazing land, and dry scrub woodland. The east coast of Saint Lucia is covered with well-developed mangroves. The forests are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic species. There are approximately 201 amphibians, mammals, and birds in Saint Lucia of which 6.5% are endemic and 6.5% are threatened. The forests host about 1,025 species of vascular plants, of which 1% are endemic.

Sulfur Springs

Sulfur springs in Saint Lucia are the only drive-in volcano in the world. It is situated on the southwestern side of the island towards Soufriere (which is a French word for places where sulfur is produced). Sulfur mine was operated in the area between 1836 and 1840, with maximum production occurring in 1836. During this period, about 540 tons of sulfur were exported. The sulfur spring was created from a weak spot on the crust of a large collapsed crater. The water at the center of the spring boils at about 170 Celsius, creating plumes of steam. The spring water is often darkened by a chemical reaction between the high iron and sulfur contents. The spring water also contains elements such as copper, alkaline lead, iron oxide, carbon, and calcium oxide. The sulfur springs are major tourist destinations in Saint Lucia since tourists can drive right up to the edge. A few yards downstream, the water is cool enough for the visitors to enter and have a mud bath.

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