St.Lucia is one of the Windward Islands, between Martinique (33km to the north) and St Vincent (41 km south), and 177 km north-west of Barbados. Since 1979 it has been an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.
St.Lucia has experienced recent economic growth. Its main agricultural exports are bananas, coconuts and cocoa. It has the largest and most diversified manufacturing sector in the Windward Islands, with the main growth in the textile and apparel and electronic assembly subsectors. Tourism is also strong, with several new developments. There are two free trade zones on St Lucia, both near the town of Vieux-Fort. Some tax concessions are available.
St.Lucia has no railways. There are two major ports (Castries and Vieux-Fort), the latter being upgraded to a full container port, and three minor ports (Soufriere, Marigot Bay and Rodney Bay). Hewanorra International Airport is located outside Vieux-Fort, and there is a smaller regional airport at Vigie, 3 km from Castries.