An island nation in the eastern Caribbean, Saint Lucia is unique in that two Nobel laureates, the economist Arthur Lewis and the poet and playwright Derek Walcott, have come from the island. The culture of the island is also distinctive because of the way in which the island changed hands over the course of the 17th and 18th century between the British and French, who each ruled the island seven different times. It was eventually settled by the British in 1814, but the island still reveals traces of the French influence. The British developed the sugar industry on the island and brought in African slaves to work on the plantations, the descendants of whom make up a majority of the current population. The sugar trade has now diminished and been replaced by tourism, which has funded an improvement in infrastructure and a construction boom.
Saint Lucia was originally populated by Carib people although little remains of their indigenous culture on the island. The culture of the island is a synthesis of African, British and French influences, and as with many neighbouring countries, it has developed into a distinctive mixture unique to the Caribbean region. The island hosts various festivals throughout the year in which traditional customs are celebrated. The influence of Creole culture is evident in both the prevalence of a particular form of Saint Lucian Creole, a French patois which reveals the continued influence of French on the island, and the annual Creole Day Festival, which celebrates the syncretic culture of Saint Lucia.
The contemporary cultural scene in Saint Lucia is dominated by the figure of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who came to international prominence in the early 1960s with his 1962 collection of poetry In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960. He has gone on to a prolific and widely celebrated career which reached a pinnacle with the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. His work has been cited for its postcolonial themes and the way in which it interprets the history of African slavery. Some of his most celebrated collections of poetry are White Egrets, Collected Poems, 1948-84 and Omeros. Other prominent Saint Lucian writers include Jane King, Kendel Hippolyte and Garth St Omer.In the art world Dunstan Gerbert Raphael St. Omer occupies a prominent position, and has been knighted by the Queen for his services to art.