St. Lucia - The Island
Spartan Health Sciences University, School of Medicine, is located in the former British Colony of St. Lucia. St. Lucia gained her independence from the British on February 22, 1979. The population of St. Lucia at the end of 2004 was approximately 163,000. The people of Saint Lucia are English speaking, friendly and very accommodating.
Before becoming a British Colony, Saint Lucia changed hands 14 times between the French and the British. The island became a British possession in 1814. Hence, French and British mannerisms among the people are not uncommon. The local language is Creole (or Patois, an adulterated French) emerged as a result of British and French influences with English as the official language.
The island is the only East Caribbean territory with two commercial airports. Hewanorra International Airport, at the south of the island, just outside the town of Vieux Fort, has an asphalted runway of 9,000 feet with the capacity to accommodate long-range jet aircraft of the 747 and Tri-Star category. The runway is fully lit and the airport possesses facilities for all weather landing. Scheduled flights are maintained by Virgin Atlantic Airways, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, British Airways and U.S. Airways. George F.L. Charles Airport (Vigie) is within limits of the capital city of Castries. It has an asphalted runway of 5,700 feet with facilities for night landing. Scheduled flights to this airport are maintained by LIAT and American Eagle. Shuttle service between this airport and Hewanorra is also regularly available. "Vigie" is also used by some air-cargo carriers like Amerijet.
Saint Lucia's beauty has drawn many people to its shores, since the sound of military cannon has ceased to reverberate through its valleys; and this English-speaking but French oriented island continues to be a favorite for vacationers. Among the resorts mostly visited are: Coconut Beach Resort, Sandals, Windjammer, Rex St. Lucian, Club St. Lucia, Marigot Bay, Ladera Resort (ranked #3 honeymoon resort in the world and pictured in the big screen movie "Superman II"), Hyatt Resort (now under Sandals) and Jalhousie Hilton. One of the major attractions for visitors to Saint Lucia is the Sulphur Springs Volcano which has been compared to the Soufriere of Onzendaki in Japan and the famous Solfatara of Pozzuoli in Italy.This wonder of nature has been found to be the "most interesting; perhaps the most potentially active; possibly the most highly curative, and certainly, the most accessible of them all". It is known as the "drive in volcano"because you actually drive through it! You must also visit Morne Fortune, the most historic spot, and the Pigeon Island National Park.
Transportation Services provided by the University
Hewanorra International Airport is approximately 3 miles from the University. The University provides free transportation for all new incoming students with prior arrangement.
George F.L. Charles Airport is one and a one half (1 1/2) hours drive from the University. The University can make arrangements for the pick up. The cost of transportation is approximately $55.00 (U.S.) paid directly to the transportation service provider.
Saint Lucia's Telecommunications Service is provided by a wholly owned subsidiary of Cable and Wireless (West Indies) Ltd.: Saint Lucia Telephones. The domestic telephone service embraces all the major residential areas through 11 exchanges with cable and microwave links. International telecommunication is provided through Cable and Wireless's international network. Micro-wave radio telephone, cable and telex services are available and are kept under constant review to cope with demand. A new system for direct dialing to the main overseas went into operation in 1982. Currently, Cable & Wireless provides Cable TV and cellular phone services.
There are nine commercial banks operating in Saint Lucia. The main center of business is the capital of Castries, but some of the banks have branches in the towns of Soufriere and Vieux Fort which are areas of agricultural and commercial activity.
The banks are:
- Bank of Nova Scotia
- First Caribbean International Bank
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
- Royal Bank of Canada
- National Commercial Bank of St. Lucia Ltd.
- St. Lucia Co-operative Bank
- Caribbean Banking Corporation Ltd.
- Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
- St. Lucia Development Bank
The island's currency is the East Caribbean dollar, which is pegged to the United States Dollar at the parity of EC $2.6882 to U.S. $1.00. The currency is controlled by the East Caribbean Currency Authority, a regional body with its headquarters in St. Kitts.