The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis (also known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis) is a federal two-island nation located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, in the West Indies.
With coastlines in the shape of a baseball bat and ball, the two volcanic islands are separated by a 3-km-wide channel called The Narrows; on the southern tip of long, baseball bat-shaped Saint Kitts lies the Great Salt Pond; Nevis Peak sits in the center of its almost circular namesake island and its ball shape complements that of its sister island
It is the smallest sovereign nation in the Americas, in both area and population.The capital city and headquarters of government for the federated state is on the larger island of Saint Kitts.
The smaller state of Nevis lies about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called "The Narrows".
Carib Indians occupied the islands for hundreds of years before the British began settlement in 1623.
The islands became an associated state of the United Kingdom with full internal autonomy in 1967.
The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971.
Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983.
In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. Nevis continues in its efforts to try and separate from Saint Kitts.
Geographic Coordinates: 17 20 N, 62 45 W
Area: 261 sq km (Saint Kitts 168 sq km; Nevis 93 sq km)
Coastline: 135 km
Maritime Claims: Territorial sea: 12 nautical miles; contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; continental shelf: 200 nautical miles or to the edge of the continental margin
Natural Hazards: Hurricanes (July to October)
Terrain: Volcanic with mountainous interiors. The highest point is Mount Liamuiga (1,156 meters).
Climate: Tropical, tempered by constant sea breezes; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)
Ecology and Biodiversity
Due to the small size of the Leeward Islands, the forests are particularly important. The forests of the Leeward Islands moist forests ecoregion, including the forested cores and their peripheral edges, have provided the downslope communities with a wide variety of useful goods and services such as building materials, fuelwood, natural medicines, wild fruits, and a habitat for game species and other wildlife. By far however, the most important service provided by the forests is as a reliable source of domestic water for each respective island. Except for the more remote, inaccessible areas characterized by high relief, many of the forests on different islands in this ecoregion suffer from similar human-related pressures, i.e., agricultural encroachment, hunting, and limited enforcement of wildlife and environmental legislation. Increased communication, networking and effort of conservation on a regional basis are needed to ensure that these rich forests and their wildlife are maintained and protected.
People and Society
Population: 50,726 (July 2012 est.)
Ethnic groups: predominantly black; some British, Portuguese, and Lebanese
0-14 years: 22.8% (male 5,701/female 5,755)
15-64 years: 69.6% (male 17,740/female 17,297)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 1,681/female 2,140) (2011 est.)
Population Growth Rate: 0.806% (2012 est.)
Birthrate: 13.9 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death Rate: 7.08 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net Migration Rate: 1.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Life Expectancy at Birth: 74.84 years
male: 72.46 years
female: 77.26 years (2012 est.)
Total Fertility Rate: 1.79 children born/woman (2012 est.)
Urbanization: 32% of total population (2010) growing at a 1.8% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
At the time of European discovery, Carib Indians inhabited the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Christopher Columbus landed on the larger island in 1493 on his second voyage and named it after St. Christopher, his patron saint. Columbus also discovered Nevis on his second voyage, reportedly calling it Nevis because of its resemblance to a snowcapped mountain (in Spanish, "nuestra senora de las nieves" or our lady of the snows). European settlement did not officially begin until 1623-24, when first English, then French settlers arrived on St. Christopher's Island, whose name the English shortened to St. Kitts Island. As the first English colony in the Caribbean, St. Kitts served as a base for further colonization in the region.
The English and French held St. Kitts jointly from 1628 to 1713. During the 17th century, intermittent warfare between French and English settlers ravaged the island's economy. Meanwhile Nevis, settled by English settlers in 1628, grew prosperous under English rule. St. Kitts was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The French seized both St. Kitts and Nevis in 1782. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 definitively awarded both islands to Britain. They were part of the colony of the Leeward Islands from 1871-1956, and of the West Indies Federation from 1958-62. In 1967, together with Anguilla, they became a self-governing state in association with Great Britain; Anguilla seceded late that year and remains a British dependency. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis attained full independence on September 19, 1983.
Government Type: parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
As head of state, Queen Elizabeth II is represented in St. Kitts and Nevis by a governor general, who acts on the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party of the House of Representatives, and the cabinet conducts affairs of state. St. Kitts and Nevis has a bicameral legislature: An 11-member Senate appointed by the governor general (mainly on the advice of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition); and an 11-member popularly elected House of Representatives which has eight St. Kitts seats and three Nevis seats. The prime minister and the cabinet are responsible to the Parliament.
St. Kitts and Nevis has enjoyed a long history of free and fair elections, although the outcome of elections in 1993 was strongly protested by the opposition and the Eastern Caribbean Regional Security System (RSS) was briefly deployed to restore order. The elections in 1995 were contested by the two major parties, the ruling People's Action Movement (PAM) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party. Labour won seven of the 11 seats, with Dr. Denzil Douglas becoming prime minister. In the 2010 elections, Denzil Douglas and the Labour Party were returned to power, winning six of the eight seats allotted to St. Kitts in the Parliament. The Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) won two seats, the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) won one seat, and the PAM party won two seats. The next elections are constitutionally due by November 2015.
The constitution gives Nevis considerable autonomy. Nevis has an island assembly, a premier, and a deputy governor general. Under certain specified conditions, it may secede from the federation. In accordance with its rights under the Constitution, in 1996 the Nevis Island Administration under the Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM) of Premier Vance Amory initiated steps towards secession from the Federation, the most recent being a referendum in 1998 that failed to secure the required two-thirds majority for secession. Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. Like its neighbors in the English-speaking Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis has an excellent human rights record. Its judicial system is modeled on British practice and procedure and its jurisprudence on English common law. In the July 10, 2006 Nevis elections for the Nevis Island Administration, the NRP won three of the five seats; the CCM won two. The NRP's Joseph Parry assumed the premiership of Nevis. While opposing secession, the government acknowledged the constitutional rights of Nevisians to determine their future independence. Premier Parry won reelection in the July 2011 poll. The opposition challenged the results in court and on March 21, 2012, a lower court invalidated the 2011 House of Assembly election in a key Nevis constituency. If upheld, the ruling will require new elections, which could change the Nevis government. The ruling likely will be appealed.
Capital: Basseterre - 13,000 (2009)
Basseterre. Source: J. Stephen Conn/Wikimedia Commons
Administrative divisions: 14 parishes; Christ Church Nichola Town, Saint Anne Sandy Point, Saint George Basseterre, Saint George Gingerland, Saint James Windward, Saint John Capesterre, Saint John Figtree, Saint Mary Cayon, Saint Paul Capesterre, Saint Paul Charlestown, Saint Peter Basseterre, Saint Thomas Lowland, Saint Thomas Middle Island, Trinity Palmetto Point.
Independence Date: 19 September 1983 (from the UK)
Legal System: English common law. St Kitts and Nevis has not submitted an International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction declaration; but, accepts International criminal court (ICCt) jurisdiction
International Environmental Agreements
St. Kitts and Nevis is party to international agreements on: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Whaling.
Annual average yields for St Kitts are 3.6 million cubic meters (m3) for surface sources and 20 million m3 for groundwater sources. Currently the island experiences water shortages in some rural communities during the dry season. Nevis experiences lower annual rainfall than St. Kitts, and has lower yielding water sources.
Total Renewable Water Resources: 0.2 sq km (2008)
Freshwater Withdrawal: (domestic, industrial, agricultural)
Per Capita Freshwater Withdrawal:
Irrigated Land: 0.2 sq km (2008)
Natural Resources: arable land
arable land: 19.44%
permanent crops: 2.78%
other: 77.78% (2005)
St. Kitts and Nevis was the last sugar monoculture in the Eastern Caribbean until the government decided to close the sugar industry in 2005, after decades of losses at the state-run sugar company. To compensate for the loss of the sugar industry, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has begun exploring alternative energy uses for sugar cane. The United States and Brazil have agreed to develop biofuels programs in the region.
The economy of St. Kitts and Nevis experienced strong growth for most of the 1990s, but hurricanes in 1998 and 1999 and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks hurt the tourism-dependent economy. Economic growth picked up in 2004, with a real GDP growth rate of 6.4%, followed by 4.1% growth in 2005. The GDP growth rate rose to 5.8% in 2006, mostly as a result of diversification into tourism and construction related to the Cricket World Cup. Tourism has shown the greatest growth and is now a major foreign exchange earner for St. Kitts and Nevis, as evidenced by an 83% increase in foreign direct investment in a range of tourism-related projects. Recent significant investment included a 648-room Marriott hotel and convention center that opened in December 2002, as well as 2007 plans for "Christophe Harbor," a U.S. investor-funded $500 million resort project. The government instituted a program of investment incentives for businesses considering the possibility of locating in St. Kitts or Nevis, encouraging domestic and foreign private investment. Government policies provide liberal tax holidays, duty-free import of equipment and materials, and subsidies for training provided to local personnel.
However, the debt of public enterprises has increased, and total public and publicly guaranteed debt reached $290,740,000 in 2006. Consumer prices have risen marginally over the past few years. The rate of inflation, as measured by the change in the CPI, rose on average by 5.3% in 2006, compared with 3.6% in 2005 and 2.3% in 2004.
Roughly 200,000 tourists visited the islands in 2009, but reduced tourism arrivals and foreign investment led to an economic contraction in 2009 and 2010. Like other tourist destinations in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis is vulnerable to damage from natural disasters and shifts in tourism demand. A mild recovery began in 2011. The current government is constrained by one of the world's highest public debt burdens -equivalent to roughly 200% of GDP in 2011 - largely attributable to public enterprise losses.
St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. The ECCB has kept the EC$ pegged at EC$2.7 to U.S. $1.
GDP: (Purchasing Power Parity): $918 million (2011 est.)
GDP(official exchange rate): $700 million (2011 est.)
GDP- per capita (PPP): $16,400 (2011 est.)
GDP- composition by sector:
services: 74.8% (2011 est.)
Industries: tourism, cotton, salt, copra, clothing, footwear, beverages
Currency: East Caribbean dollars (XCD)