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The island, with its fine natural harbor at Castries, was contested between England and France throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814 A.D.. Even after the abolition of slavery on its plantations in 1834 A.D., Saint Lucia remained an agricultural island, dedicated to producing tropical commodity crops. Self-government was granted in 1967 A.D. and independence in 1979 A.D.. English is the official language; French patois is also spoken.
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