Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saint Lucia – Christopher Columbus

This FDC commemorates the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of Saint Lucia by the famous Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus. This cover was given to me by Maria. Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 620 km2 (238 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 173,765 (2009 census). Its capital is Castries. The island nation has been the home of two Nobel laureates, Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott. It is the nation with the second most such honorees per capita after the Faroe Islands.
St. Lucia was first settled by Arawak Indians around 200 A.D., though by 800 their culture had been superceded by that of the Caribs. These early Amerindian cultures called the island "Iouanalao" and "Hewanorra," meaning "Island of the Iguanas." The history of the island's European discovery is a bit hazy. It was long believed that Christopher Columbus had discovered St. Lucia in 1502, but recent evidence suggests that he merely sailed close by. Many Islanders still believe that it was Columbus who discovered the Island, and hence, this FDC to mark the 500th Anniversary of that momentous occasion. An alternative discoverer is Juan de la Cosa, a lesser-known explorer who had served at one time as Christopher Columbus' navigator. There are some indications that de la Cosa may have discovered the island in 1499, although there is also evidence suggesting that he didn't find the island until 1504. In any case, there was no European presence established on the island until its settlement in the 1550s by the notorious buccaneer Francois le Clerc, a.k.a. Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg. Peg-Leg le Clerc set up a fine little base on Pigeon Island, from whence he issued forth to prey upon unwitting and treasure-laden Spanish galleons. Around 1600, the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort.

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