Columbus may have sighted the island on his 1502 voyage. The British failed in their first attempts at colonization in the early 17th cent. The island was later settled by the French, who signed a treaty with the local Caribs in 1660. Thereafter Saint Lucia was much contested by the two European powers until the British secured it in 1814. It was part of the British Windward Islands colony, and joined the West Indies Federation (1958–62) when the colony was dissolved. In 1967, Saint Lucia became one of the six members of the West Indies Associated States, with internal self-government, and in 1979 it gained full independence under Sir John Compton. Compton, of the conservative United Workers party (UWP), was again prime minister from 1982 to 1996, when he was succeeded by Vaughn Lewis. Kenny Anthony of the Labor party was prime minister from 1997 to 2006, when the UWP, again led by Compton, won control of parliament. In May, 2007, after Compton suffered a series of ministrokes, Finance and External Affairs Minister Stephenson King became acting prime minister and then, after Compton died in Sept., 2007, prime minister. The Nov., 2011, elections brought Anthony and Labor back into office.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.