The island of St. Lucia is situated approximately 100 miles north west of Barbados, just north of St. Vincent. Since 1979 St. Lucia is a stable and independent parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth. St. Lucia is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, which issues its currency the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD). The ECD is pegged to the USD at 1 USD = ECD 2.63. St. Lucia has a population of approximately 172'800 people and encompasses an area of approximately 240 square miles. The industry of St. Lucia has traditionally been based on agriculture. However, tourism has become a very developed sector in St. Lucia and accounts now for approx. 29% of the island's GDP while the service sector as a whole accounts for almost 75%. Several international hotel groups have opened hotels on St. Lucia and are serving an upmarket tourism industry.