Capital city: Castries
Population: 178,015 (Est 2016)
GDP growth: 1.6% (Est 2017)
Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Monarch: HM Queen Elizabeth II
Governor-General: Neville Cenac
Prime Minister: Allen Chastanet
Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Dialling code: 1 758
Ease of doing business index: 91st
Saint Lucia at a glance
Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean, part of the Lesser Antilles. The varied landscape and tropical climate, moderated by northeast trade winds, has something to offer all visitors. From the vast expanses of sandy beaches to the towering Piton mountains, a world heritage site, Saint Lucia makes for a sensational setting.
The French were the island’s first European settlers, signing a treaty with the Carib Indians in 1660. After that, rule of the island switched many times between France and Britain. Saint Lucia became an independent state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1979, and consequently, its a legal system is based on both the civil law and English common law.
The year typically features a dry season from December until the end of May, and a wet season from June until the end of November. The average daytime temperature is an estimated 29°C. As the island is located near to the equator, the temperature does not vary greatly throughout the year.
Between 1667 and 1814, control switched between French and British hands a total of 14 times. Due to the development of the sugar industry, Saint Lucia was considered an attractive colony to hold. The official language of Saint Lucia is English, however, Saint Lucian Creole French is widely spoken.
Saint Lucia is a two-party parliamentary democracy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State; her presence is represented by a Governor-General. The Prime Minister is usually the head of the party that holds the majority in the House of Assembly. There are 17 seats in the House of Assembly, and eleven seats in the second chamber of Parliament, the Senate.
As well as being a member of the Commonwealth, Saint Lucia is a member of the Caribbean community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). It maintains friendly relations with all of the active major powers in the Caribbean – the US, Canada, France and the UK.
The country’s gross domestic product in purchasing power parity was estimated at US$2,384 in 2017, ranking 194th internationally. The services sector accounted for 82.8% of GDP, followed by industry and agriculture at 14.2% and 2.9%, respectively.
The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, enticed by a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure, an educated workforce, improved roads, an upgraded communications system, port facilities, and a business-friendly entrepreneurial climate. Tourism is Saint Lucia’s main source of jobs and income – accounting for 65% of GDP – and the island’s main source of foreign exchange earnings. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area. Crops such as bananas, cocoa, coconuts, avocados and mangos are grown for export.
The popular tourist season tends to be January to April due to the weather. The island currently attracts over 900,000 visitors annually, most of which are stopping off as part of a cruise. As well as the twin peaks of “The Pitons”, other attractions include a drive-in volcano, the rainforests, the Sulphur Springs, Fort Rodney in Pigeon Island National Park and boat and fishing trips.
Saint Lucia implemented a 15% Value Added Tax in 2012, but decreased it to 12.5% in February 2017.
Major export and import partners are France, US, UK, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Netherlands.
Citizenship by Investment
Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Programme was established following the enactment of Citizenship by Investment Act in 2015 (Act No 14 2015) making it the newest programme to join the other citizenship by investment programmes (CIP) in the Caribbean region. Saint Lucia has inherited decades of experience in this regard from its Caribbean neighbours.
How to qualify
Those wishing to secure a Saint Lucian passport through the Citizenship By Investment Programme must be at least 18 years of age, have no criminal record and be in good health. Furthermore, in order to qualify for citizenship in Saint Lucia, investors must fulfil one of the four following investment options.
1) National Economic Fund (NEF)
Saint Lucia National Economic Fund is a fund established to receive cash investments from the citizenship programme that will be used in the funding of government-sponsored projects. The Finance Minister must seek approval from Parliament for the allocation of funds for his chosen purposes.
Once an application for citizenship through investment in the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund has been approved, an investment as follows is required:
2) Real estate projects
The Cabinet of Ministers will evaluate proposed real estate projects for the possibility of citizenship. Approved real estate projects can come under two categories:
The applicant must enter into a binding purchase and sales agreement for an investment in an approved real estate project. Investments, totalling the agreed purchase price, are deposited in an escrow account managed both by the property developer as well as the Saint Lucia based Citizenship by Investment Unit.
3) Enterprise projects
The Cabinet will evaluate enterprise projects to appear on the approved list for the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Approved enterprise projects come under seven categories:
Once approved, the enterprise project becomes available for further investments from other applicants for citizenship by investment. The following minimum investment is required:
Option 1 – A sole applicant
Option 2 – More than one applicant (joint venture)
4) Government bonds
Citizenship by investment may be made through the purchase of non-interest-bearing Government bonds. These bonds must be registered and remain in the name of the applicant for a five year holding period from the date of first issue and not attract a rate of interest.
Once an application for citizenship by means of an investment in government bonds has been approved, the following minimum investment is required:
Sole applicant: US$500,000
Posted in Country Spotlights.