ABOUT St. Lucia is part of the Windward Island chain, a sub-group of islands within the West Indies. This 238-square-mile island is 21 miles from its nearest neighbour, Martinique, a French department; 24 miles north of St. Vincent and 100 miles northwest of Barbados. St. Lucia possesses some of the finest natural harbours in the Caribbean, and is centrally located within easy reach of the rest of the region and North America. It was as a result of this strategic location that the French and British fought endlessly for possession of the island. St. Lucia changed hands 14 times between the two colonial powers. A tug-of-war that inspired one British historian to give St. Lucia the sobriquet “Helen of the West Indies”, comparing the island to Helen of Troy, a mythical Greek character whose beauty mobilised an entire navy. The main language in St. Lucia is English. A French-based Creole is also spoken, a result of St. Lucia’s dual British-French heritage. Electricity is available for the most part at 220 volts, 50 cycles AC, and unless you are coming from Europe, you will need an adapter for your travel appliances. Taxis are a popular means of getting around. Drivers are well informed and friendly and are familiar with the points of interest. Before you hire a taxi, settle on the price. Fares are standard to all destinations. All authorised taxis have special number plates.

CLIMATE The climate is tropical, with temperatures ranging from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties 25 to 30 Celsius. During the hottest time of the year, from June to August, temperatures can reach the mid-nineties 32 Celsius. Things are kept pretty cool, however, by the constant trade-winds. Average rainfall ranges from 60 inches in the coastal regions to 160 inches in the interior rain forests. The rainy season is from June to October.

BEWARE Incidents of violent crime, including murder tend to occur within the local community but can sometimes affect tourists. Muggings and thefts from hotels, yachts or holiday homes do occur, and are occasionally accompanied by violence, and there have been a number of serious assaults involving tourists and residents in recent years. There have been armed robberies at waterfalls in the Anse La Raye area in the past and these sites should be avoided. Take particular care at popular late night street parties and "jump-ups". Be extremely cautious about accepting lifts and use only licensed taxis. Do not carry large amounts of cash and jewellery. Valuables and travel documents should be left, where possible, in safety deposit boxes or hotel safes. If staying in a residential/holiday villa, take precautions to secure your valuables, and lock doors and windows. There are regular mini bus services, which provide relatively cheap, but sometimes dangerously fast, travel between all main towns. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations but you should clarify the fare with the driver before the beginning of the journey. There are severe penalties for all drug offences. A number of British nationals have been arrested for trafficking of cocaine. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else. It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.