A chronology of key events:
1501 - St Lucia sighted by Christopher Columbus.
1635 - The French establish a colony on St Lucia.
Castries, the capital, boasts a natural deepwater harbour
Founded by the French in 1650
Castries population: 63,000 (2000 estimate)
1660 - The French sign a treaty with the indigenous Carib people.
1814 - France cedes St Lucia to Britain following the Treaty of Paris; Britain proclaims the island a crown colony and brings in African slaves to work on the sugar cane plantations.
1834 - Slavery abolished.
1871-1956 - St Lucia a member of the Leeward Islands Federation.
1924 - St Lucia granted representative government.
1936 - St Lucia given a constitution providing for a majority of elected representatives in the legislative council.
1951 - St Lucia granted universal adult suffrage.
1958-62 - St Lucia a member of the Federation of the West Indies.
1964 - St Lucia ceases sugar cane production.
1967 - St Lucia becomes fully self-governing in internal affairs, with Britain remaining in charge of external matters and defence.
1979 - St Lucia becomes independent with John Compton, leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) as prime minister.
1979 - Allan Louisy becomes prime minister after his St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) wins the general election.
Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1992
Poet, playwright, writer, visual artist
Plays embedded in folk tradition
Poems celebrate beauty of Caribbean
1981 - Louisy resigns following a split in the SLP and is replaced by the attorney-general, Winston Cenac.
1982 - John Compton returns to power after his UWP wins a decisive victory in the general election.
1987 - The UWP wins a narrow victory in the general election.
1992 - The UWP wins another general election.
1992 - Derek Walcott, a native of the capital, Castries, wins the Nobel Prize for literature.
1993 - Fall in the price of bananas leads to unrest and strikes by farmers and agricultural workers.
1996 - John Compton resigns and is succeeded by Vaughan Lewis as prime minister.
Kenny Anthony elected
1997 - Kenny Anthony becomes prime minister after his SLP-led coalition wins the country's biggest ever landslide in the general election.
2002 September - Tropical Storm Lili destroys about half of the banana crop. In some places entire plantations are wiped out.
2003 July - Parliament amends constitution to replace oath of allegiance to British monarch with pledge of loyalty to St Lucians.
FATHER OF THE NATION
Sir John Compton's political career spanned many decades
Steered country towards independence
Served as prime minister several times
2003 November - New criminal code passed, with controversial clauses on imprisonment for spreading "false news" and legalisation of abortion in some circumstances.
2004 July - Volcanic twin peaks - the Pitons - are declared a Unesco world heritage site.
2006 December - Sir John Compton's UWP wins general elections.
2007 April - St Lucia says it will re-establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan, 10 years after it broke off relations in favour of China.
2007 September - Prime minister Sir John Compton dies, is replaced by Stephenson King.
2011 December - Kenny Anthony becomes prime minister after his SLP wins a snap general election.