St. Lucia - Geography

St. Lucia - Geography

St. Lucia is one of many small land masses composing the insular group known as the Windward Islands (see fig. __, Caribbean Regional Map). Unlike large limestone areas such as Florida, Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula, or the Bahamas, which is a small island group composed of coral and sand, St. Lucia is a typical Windward Island formation of volcanic rock that came into existence long after much of the region had already been formed.

St. Lucia's physical features are strikingly beautiful. Dominated by high peaks and rain forests in the interior, the 616- square-kilometer island is known for the twin peaks of Gros Piton and Petit Piton on the southwestern coast, its soft sandy beaches, and its magnificent natural harbors (see fig. __, Map of St. Lucia). Mount Gimie, the highest peak, is located in the central mountain range and rises to 958 meters above sea level, a contrast that is also evident in the abrupt climatic transition from coastal to inland areas. The steep terrain also accentuates the many rivers that flow from central St. Lucia to the Caribbean. Fertile land holdings, which support banana farming, are scattered throughout the island.

St. Lucia has a tropical, humid climate moderated by northeast trade winds that allow for pleasant year-round conditions. Mean annual temperatures range from 26o C to 32o C at sea level and drop to an average of 13o C in the mountain peaks. The abundant annual rainfall accumulates to approximately 200 centimeters, with most precipitation occurring during the June to December wet season. Hurricanes are the most severe climatic disturbance in this area and have been known to cause extensive damage. Although St. Lucia has historically been spared from serious hurricane destruction, Hurricane Allen decimated the agricultural sector and claimed nine lives in 1980.

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