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Long before Europeans claimed the island of St. Lucia, the Arawak Indian tribe was living off the land as well as many others in the West Indies/Caribbean. The capital city of St. Lucia, Castries was officially founded in 1650 by the French. The name "Castries" did not come about until 1750 to honor the French Navy Minister, the Marquis de Castries; before that it was called "Carenage" meaning "safe anchorage." Despite this name however, the city had a bad reputation. Castries was known as an unhealthy city until the early 1760s when new plans were implemented to clean it up.
Throughout the ages, Castries has seen its fair share of turmoil and war. Misfortune has also struck in the form of fire, destroying many of the original buildings of Castries' past. Two major fires wiped out much of the city landscape in the years 1927 and 1948. For this reason, the city is one of the most modern in the West Indies.
By 1814 the British beat out the French for control of the island after the Battle of Cul-de-Sac. During the 19th century, Castries was continued under British rule but the French culture and heritage remain strong to the present, including the Creole dialect. The port became an important one during the 19th century, for refueling military and cargo ships and has continued to grow since. Recently the beauty of the island has drawn more of a tourist industry to the city.