The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis are two of the Caribbean's oldest colonized territories and the capital city and headquarters of government for the federated state is Basseterre on the larger island of Saint Kitts. The smaller island of Nevis lies about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called "The Narrows".
St Kitts and Nevis little boy in traditional costume celebrating Culturama festival
The twin-Islands of St. Kitts and Nevis which was a land originally occupied by aboriginal Kalinago Indians, was as it July 2013 has population of 51,134 people. Out of this population size, blacks or people of African ancestry constitute (92.7%) or mixed (2.2%). 2.2% of the population is white and 1.9% East Indian. In 2001, sixteen people belonged to the Amerindian population (0.03% of the total population). The remaining 0.7% of the population includes people from the Middle East (0.05%) and Chinese (0.09%).
Historically, the British dependency of Anguilla was also a part of this union, which was then known collectively as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. Saint Kitts and Nevis are considered to be geographically part of the Leeward Islands. To the north-northwest lie the islands of Sint Eustatius, Saba (the Netherlands), Saint Barthélemy, Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten and Anguilla. To the east and northeast are Antigua and Barbuda, and to the southeast is the small uninhabited island of Redonda, and the island of Montserrat, which currently has an active volcano (see Soufrière Hills).
Beautiful woman from St Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis were among the first islands in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans. Saint Kitts was home to the first English and French colonies in the Caribbean, and thus has also been titled "The Mother Colony of the West Indies". Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest nation on Earth to ever host a World Cup event; it was one of the host venues of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
St Kitts and nevis men in their African wear
Its strategic location and valuable sugar trade led to an advanced and luxurious development that was among the best in the Colonial Caribbean. By 2003, Nevis was home to around 17,000 offshore businesses operating under strict secrecy laws, making the islands a target for drugs traffickers and money launderers. Laws have been introduced to crack down on the problem.
St. Kitts is today a (growing in popularity) cruise ship destination, and the surrounding waters are a magnet for scuba divers and snorkelers.
Kids of St Kitts and Nevis celebrating their independence day
Physical characteristics (Geography)
The twin island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis consists of two islands located in the northern part of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands in the Eastern Caribbean. It has a land area of 269 sq. km. (104 sq. miles).
The larger of the two islands, St. Kitts is 176 sq. km. (68 sq. mi.) in area.
It is approximately 36.8 km (23 mi) long and is roughly oval in shape with a narrow neck of land extending like a handle from the southeastern end. Nevis has an area of 93 sq. km. (36 sq. mi), with a length of 12.3 km (7.64 mi) and a width of 9.6 km (5.96 mi) at its widest point.
- View of Nevis from Cockleshell Beach,
Topography: (a) St. Kitts
The physical landscape of St. Kitts is characterised by three volcanic centres:
§ the central northwest range, dominated by Mt. Liamuiga, which rises with a pronounced crater to 1,156 meters (3,792 ft). It is the Federation’s highest peak.
.§ the middle range, which consists of a number of irregular related peaks dominated by Vrechild’s mountain at a height of 975 meters (3,200 ft). The slopes in this range are steeper and shorter towards the leeward coast.
§ the southeast range, which consists of a number of irregular peaks, with the highest being 900 meters (2,953 feet) above mean sea level. Like the middle range, the slopes here are steeper and shorter on the leeward side.
The middle and southeast ranges are separated by a broad gently sloping saddle of about 457 meters (1,500 feet) high, known as Phillips and Wingfield levels. These ranges are complemented by the Canada hills on the northeastern part of the island, which rises to about 335 meters (1,100 feet) and are separated by a deep depression from the Morne and Conaree hills. The latter terminates in the neck of the South-east Peninsula
(SEP). The SEP is largely characterised by tied islands, about one third of a mile wide and with peaks of up to 183 – 213 meters (600 -700 feet). The southern extremity has hills with elevations up to 335 meters (1,100 feet).
The terrain from the central mountain ranges slopes down steeply from the peaks, flattening out to gentle slopes and low cliffs towards the coastal fringe. Minor domes protrude from these lower slopes at Brimstone Hill, Ottley’s Mountain, Sandy Point Hill and Monkey Hill. The slopes are characterised by deeply incised ghauts with steep sides, which act as the primary channels for drainage.
Most flat or moderately sloped land occurs near the coast, and as a result, most urban and agricultural developments have occurred there. The island’s coastline largely consists of cliffs, some 15 – 30 meters (50 to 100 feet) high. Beaches at the foot of these cliffs are narrow and the sand is coarse and black, with many
pebbles and boulders. Exceptions are in the northwest, where the cliffs are lower and some beaches have yellow sand and are wider. In Basseterre where there are cliffs, there is a narrow beach of grey sand. From Conaree, on to the southeast of the island, there are long stretches of fine yellow sand beaches.
Scenery of St. Eustatius
Topographically, Nevis is approximately circular and dominated by the central Nevis Peak, 985 m (3,232 ft.) high. Windy Hill (309m) and Saddle Hill (381m) at the head and tail of the island, respectively, align with Nevis Peak to form a north-northwest/south-south-east trending spine comparable to the more pronounced spine of St. Kitts. To the east, the spine is thickened by the bulge of Butlers Mountain (478m). Slopes vary from almost zero near the sea, to over 40 percent in the vicinity of Saddle Hill, Butlers Mountain, Nevis Peak and Windy Hill.
Map of St. Kitts and Nevis
Geology (a) St. Kitts
The islands are the summits of a submerged mountain range that forms the eastern boundary of what is known as the Caribbean Tectonic Plate. The entire island archipelago is geologically young, having begun to form probably less than 50 million years ago, during the Miocene era. Volcanic activity occurred along the ridges of this arc during the Miocene era and has continued since (Lang and Caroll, 1964).
St. Kitts has since undergone numerous and considerable changes in elevation but is now relatively stable. Newer volcanics rest on a basement of older rocks, now only exposed where the newer deposits have been denuded. Mt. Liamuiga, the most northerly volcano has a youthful appearance and was active in recent (geologic) time.
Mount Liamuiga: View into the crater
No obvious geologic faults can be observed, although several lineations have been noted which may be deeper faults masked by volcanic ejects. The island is composed almost exclusively of volcanic rocks of andesite or dacite mineralogy. Most of the deposits are pyroclastics and range in size from silt-sized particles to boulders several feet in diameter.
Although Nevis is primarily a volcanic island, the oldest rocks are of marine origin. On the southern slopes of Saddle Hill, an obscure outcrop of conglomerate yields blocks of recrystallised limestone that contain foraminiferids of mid-Eocene age. The next oldest rocks are volcanic, and much younger, being erupted during Pliocene time. The older volcanics crop out on the northwestern coast, while the youngest form Nevis Peak. Saddle Hill to the south is of intermediate age.
Soils (a) St. Kitts
The soils of both islands have been studied and described in detail by Lang and Carroll (1966). Edaphic conditions have been greatly influenced by the islands’ volcanic origins and soils of a given type are in most cases a product of the extent to which a given volcanic parent material has weathered.
Generally, the soils of St. Kitts can be placed into different groups. Lang and Carroll (1966) grouped the soils according to the clay development and weathering of primary materials and defined seven broad groups. The seven groups are Protosols Young soils, Smectoid Clay soils, Allophanoid Latosolics, Kandoid Latosolics, “Mixed clay” Latosolics and Kandoid Latosols.
The soils of the lower slopes are developed in deep, coarse textured and often gravely and bouldery volcanic
ash. They are excessively well drained with low water holding capacities, and they have a low clay and organic matter content.
At about the 150 meter (500-foot) ash contour, the soils are wetter and show greater weathering and profile development. They have low clay content but higher contents of silt and fine sand. They have a higher water-holding capacity than the younger soils down slope, and are more leached but still have a high inherent nutrient level.
The soils of the mountains above the 300-meter (1000-foot) ash contour have the greatest profile development with high clay contents and bright reddish or brownish colours due to the presence of free iron oxides. They have finer textures and high water holding capacities. They are more leached than the soils down slope, but still appear to be moderately fertile with high levels of organic matter.
The three primary soil types of Nevis are as follows:
§ A Red-Brown Earth at the summit of Nevis Peak. This soil is mature, but strongly acidic and of little agricultural importance.
§ A Brown-Yellow Earth, which encircles the area of the Red-Brown Earth type. This is good agricultural soil but contains many boulders that limit mechanised methods of cultivation.
§ A “shoal” soil, which occurs in low-lying areas. Lying on volcanigenic sediments, this soil is loamy by clayey and difficult to cultivate.
Forest (a) St. Kitts
The vegetation of St. Kitts provides evidence of great disturbance by human activity. In the lowland areas, intensive land use has removed all vestiges of the natural vegetation. Although the mountain peaks are still covered by forest, they do not have virgin forest characteristics. Lower slopes are covered by secondary growth on abandoned farms. The vegetation, which comprises about 243 species of trees (Beard, 1949), supports wildlife. Beard (1949), described five (5) forest type remnants of the original vegetative cover, viz:
§ Rain Forest - dominated by the mountain cabbage palm, with large trees of gumlin (Dacryodes excelsa) and burrwood (Solanea spp). There are 600 - 700 acres of this formation in St. Kitts on either side of the Olivees range.
§ Dry Evergreen Forest - secondary forest occupying the lower margins of the forest, usually on land thrown out of cultivation. This group includes the useful sweetwood (Lauraceae spp.) and small-leaf (Myrtaceae spp.) families. The undergrowth consists of densely growing shrubs and vines such as Piper spp. and
various coffee type plants. The formation is of limited area.
§ Palm Brake - covering land between an elevation of 1200 and 1800 feet. The forest consists mainly of the mountain cabbage palm (Euterpe globosa), with a few treeferns and small trees.
§ Elfin Woodland - appearing on peaks and ridges above 2000 feet. This is a low, tangled and windswept growth, loaded with epiphytes and mosses. This, together with Palm Brake, forms the vegetation of the summits of the ridges and peaks.
§ Dry Scrub Woodland - of the SEP. Beard suggests that this type has been heavily impacted by the past. The SEP and its extension into the Canada Hills were probably once forested with deciduous seasonal forest, but now supports a xerophytic scrub of acacia, agave, columnar and Turk’s Head cacti.
The vegetative zones of Nevis follow the pattern typical of small, volcanic Caribbean islands. Nevis has, according to Beard (1949), six vegetation zones. They are:
§ Rain Forest and Humid Forest - The only substantial stand of tall trees is on the northwestern side of the mountain above Jessups. The dominant species are the mountain cabbage palm (Euterpe globosa), gumlin (Dacryodes excelsa) and burrwood (Solanea spp).
§ Elfin Woodland - The summit of Nevis Peak is covered with low, gnarled tangled growth. This forest is usually under three metres high and laden with moss and epiphytes and matted with lianas.
§ Monthane Thicket - A very thin belt located just above the rain forest on the west side of the mountain. This area is dominated by weedee (Podocarpus coriceus) and mountain cabbage palm.
§ Palm Brake - This is a band of montane forest located on very steep slopes, or in areas exposed to high winds. This zone is dominated by mountain cabbage palm and the rest of the forest consists of tree ferns (Cyathea arborea).
§ Dry Scrub Woodland - The low hills of Nevis (e.g. Round Hill and Saddle Hill) consist of a patchy, scrub woodland. The prominent trees are various species of acacia and cassia, together with century plant (Agave americana), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia rubescens) and pope’s head or barrel cactus (Euphorbia pulcherrima). Most of the southern coast of the island from Baths Plain to Indian Castle consists of cactus scrub woodland.
§ Dry Evergreen Forest - The lower slopes of Nevis Peak that extend north and east are covered with an evergreen forest of small trees. The most prominent trees are white cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla), black mast (Diosyros ebenaster) and loblolly (Pisonia fragans).
Coastal Ecosystems (a) St. Kitts
The coastal and marine ecosystems in St. Kitts include coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves, salt ponds, diverse aquatic life and the coastline. As an island territory, St. Kitts has a fragile 78.1 km long coastline consisting of 34.7 km cliff (rocks), 10.8 km cobble, 6.3 km boulders and rocks, 13.1 km black volcanic sand, and 13.2 km golden sand.
Both coral reef and sea grass communities contribute to the following environmental processes:
§ Provide habitat for commercially important fish species for example spiny lobster and queen conch depend upon both habitats at certain periods in their life cycles.
§ Produce nutrients that are important in sustaining the life of fish species and other organisms. The reefs also act as barriers during periods of heavy wave attack, and are important contributors to white sands.
Mangroves are not abundant. The main and most extensive mangrove habitat in St. Kitts occur in the SEP. Hawksbill and green sea turtles are found around the entire coast. In addition, there is a large number of resident and migratory birds that depend on the mangrove and pond communities for feeding and nesting.
Shoreline features of Nevis include sandy beaches, fresh water lagoons, rocky shores and massive sea cliffs. The most prominent sandy beach is a 4 km section of the coastline that stretches north from Charlestown to Cades Bay, called Pinneys Beach. It is composed of both coral fragments and terrestrial soils that give it a yellow appearance and is typical of a number of beaches found along the leeward coast of the island.
Another feature associated with the leeward coastline of Nevis is its system of freshwater lagoons. These may be the result of either mountain ghaut run-off, as is the case for the Pinneys Estate lagoons, or underground springs as evidenced at Nelson Springs in Cotton Ground.
Rocky shores are often associated with an impressive array of marine life from algae and snails to juvenile fishes of all description. Sea cliffs are found where strong wave energy undercuts rocky ledges and erodes soil from agglomerate and unconsolidated rock. These rugged habitats can be found on the southern and eastern coasts of Nevis.
Three coastal habitats -- freshwater lagoons, coral reefs, and seagrass beds -- are of critical importance to the nearshore tropical marine ecosystems of Nevis. There are many direct and indirect links between the productivity of these habitats and the health of inshore fisheries.
The climate of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is classified as tropical marine. Generally, it is influenced by steady northeast trade winds and tropical oceanic and cyclonic movements.
The relative humidity is fairly high all year round - approximately 75% - 80%. It is usually low in the dry season and high in the wet season. The mean value is 76%, but it ranges from 70% in March, to 78% in September, October and November.
Rainfall is mainly cyclonic and orographic and increases in amount and frequency with altitude. Mean annual rainfall ranges from about 890 – 1000 mm (35 - 40 inches) in the coastal areas, to about 2500 – 3800 mm (100 - 150 inches) in the central mountain ranges. The rainfall is unevenly distributed between years and between months, but there is a reliable wet period from August to September and a dry period from January - April.
Temperatures average approximately 270 Celsius. Seasonal and diurnal variations in temperature are small.
Hurricanes and Other Natural Hazards
The Federation is particularly vulnerable to damage from tropical storms. Since 1989, eight storms have affected the country - Hugo, Felix, Gilbert, Iris, Luis, Marilyn, Bertha and Georges. Damage from Hurricane Hugo (1989) has been estimated at E.C. $117 million (US$43 M), from Hurricane Luis and Marilyn (1995) at E.C. $149 million (US$55M), and from Hurricane Georges (1998) at E.C. $200 million (US$74M).
These costs underestimate the actual magnitude of the economic impacts, as they do not account for private expenditures, as when private insurance claims are paid, or restoration and repairs are done with insurance. Nor do they account for repairs that are not done, as when buildings are left abandoned and derelict. They also do not account for the revenues lost to business, or lost tourist dollars, and they do not reflect the costs in human suffering and grief that accompany major storms.
Earthquakes in the Federation are derived directly from the tectonic interaction of the Caribbean and Atlantic Plates, and indirectly from volcanic activity also associated with these tectonic plates. A secondary concern is that of earthquake (and volcanic) driven tsunamis (“tidal waves”), which could cause considerable damage and loss of life in low lying, densely populated coastal areas.
(c) Volcanic Activity
There is no historic record of major volcanic eruption with attendant loss of property and life. Nevertheless, the islands are geologically young, and experience minor activity at their Mt. Liamuiga and Nevis Peak outlets.
Mount Liamuiga, St. Kitts
The Origin of The Name St Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts was named "Liamuiga" by the Kalinago Indians who inhabited the island. This name, roughly translated, in English means "fertile land," a testimony to the island's rich volcanic soil and high productivity.
Nevis's pre-Columbian name was "Oualie," which translates to "land of beautiful waters," presumably referring to the island's many freshwater springs and hot volcanic springs.
Christopher Columbus, upon sighting what we now call Nevis in 1493, gave that island the name San Martin (Saint Martin). However, the confusion of numerous, poorly charted small islands in the Leeward Island chain, meant that the name ended up being accidentally transferred to another island, the one which we now know as the French/Dutch island Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten.
The current name "Nevis" is derived from a Spanish name Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (The original name was the archaic Spanish "Noestra Siñora delas Neves"), by a process of abbreviation and anglicisation. This Spanish name means Our Lady of the Snows. It is not known who chose this name for the island, but it is a reference to the story of a fourth-century Catholic miracle: a snowfall on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. Presumably the white clouds which usually wreathe the top of Nevis Peak reminded someone of the story of a miraculous snowfall in a hot climate. The island of Nevis, upon first British settlement, was referred to as "Dulcina," a name meaning "sweet one." Its original Spanish name, "Nuestra Señora de las Nieves," was eventually kept however, though it was soon shortened to "Nevis."
There is some disagreement over the name which Columbus gave to St. Kitts. For many years it was thought that he named the island San Cristobal, after his patron saint Saint Christopher, the saint of travelling. However, new studies suggest that Columbus named the island Sant Yago (Saint James). The name "San Cristobal" was apparently given by Columbus to the island now known as Saba, 20 miles northwest. It seems that "San Cristobal" came to be applied to the island of St. Kitts only as the result of a mapping error.
No matter the origin of the name, the island was well documented as "San Cristobal" by the 17th century. The first English colonists kept the English translation of this name, and dubbed it "St. Christopher's Island." In the 17th century Kit, or Kitt, was a common nickname for the name Christopher, and so the island was often informally referred to as "Saint Kitt's island," which was further shortened to "Saint Kitts."
Today, the Constitution refers to the state as both "Saint Kitts and Nevis" and "Saint Christopher and Nevis," but the former is the one most commonly used.
All the inhabitants speak English, and all the Afro-Caribbean residents have access to a local dialect based partly on English and partly on several West African languages. English is the language of business, religion, and tourism and is the medium of instruction in schools. The local dialect, referred to as Kittitian on Saint Kitts and Nevisian on Nevis, is used in the family, at social gatherings, and among men socializing together. It also is employed by Nevisians to communicate with one another without being understood by tourists.
Five thousand years prior to European arrival, the island was settled by Native Americans. The last wave of Native American arrivals, the Kalinago people, arrived approximately three centuries before the Europeans. The islands were discovered by the Europeans through a Spanish expedition under Columbus in 1493. In 1538, French Huguenots established a settlement on St. Kitts but the settlement was destroyed by the Spanish soon afterwards and the survivors were deported. In 1623, an English settlement was established, which was soon followed by French settlements, the island being divided by agreement. Dissimilar to many other islands, the local Kalinago people on the island allowed Europeans to colonise Saint Kitts. In 1626, the Anglo-French settlers massacred the Kalinago, pre-empting a plan by the Kalinago to drive the foreigners from the island.
Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh flanked by (l-r) Nevis Premier Hon. Vance Amory, Federations First Governor-General Sir Clement Arrindell, Lady Arrindell, Lady Simmonds and first Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Sir Kennedy A Simmonds.
A Spanish expedition, sent to enforce Spanish claims, destroyed the English and French colonies and deported the settlers back to their respective countries in 1629. As part of the war settlement in 1630, the Spanish permitted the re-establishment of the English and French colonies.
As Spanish power went into decline, Saint Kitts became the premier base for English and French expansion into the Caribbean, as the islands of Antigua, Montserrat, Anguilla and Tortola for the English, and Martinique, the Guadeloupe archipelago and St. Barts for the French were colonised from it. During the late 17th century, France and England battled for control over St Kitts. It was ceded to Britain in 1713.
Although small in size, and separated by only 2 miles (3 km) of water, the two islands were viewed and governed as different states until the late 19th century, when they were forcibly unified along with the island of Anguilla by the British. To this day relations are strained, with Nevis accusing Saint Kitts of neglecting its needs.
St Kitta and Nevis people celebrating Emancipation Day
The British mostly imported slaves from West Africa to work in the sugarcane plantation as well as other human labour. Slaves were imported from West African coast, mostly Ghana, Bight of Biafra (Nigeria), Dahomey and others. Out of African imported to Caribbean Islands of St Kitts and Nevis, majority were Akans (mostly Fantes) from Ghana, followed by Yoruba, Igbo and Fons. In fact, the demands for slave labour in St Kitts and Nevis was in high demand that by 1700, Nevis had 8000 African slaves, outnumbering the whites five to one.
Saint Kitts and Nevis, along with Anguilla, became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. Anguillians rebelled, and separated from the others in 1971. St. Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983. It is the newest sovereign state in the Americas. In August 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from St. Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. In late September 1998, Hurricane Georges caused approximately $458,000,000 in damages and property and limited GDP growth for the year and beyond. Georges was the worst hurricane to hit the region in the century.
St Kitts and Nevis girl
(a) St. Kitts
The settlement pattern in St. Kitts consists of a series of small villages along the island main road, which passes very close to the coastline. There is a concentration in the Basseterre capital region, where about 40% of the population resides. There is a general preference for living near the coastline, primarily because most of the upland interior land is very rugged and steep with some sections being under the forest reserve and the remaining areas are intensely cultivated with sugar cane.
The rural landscape is dominated by sugar cane plantations, with settlements interspersed in between. The increasing demand for agricultural land has, in recent decades, resulted in many small farmers clearing forested land in the upper slopes for farming. Such encroachment results in deforestation, soil erosion, and pollution of stream rivers and coastal waters.
The rural areas are characterized by ribbon developments, none of which can be said to have occurred as part of a planned physical development strategy, although there are a handful of locations where planned developments have been implemented.
The major urban areas are Basseterre - the capital city, Sandy Point and Cayon. The drift from rural to urban areas over the past two decades has led to Basseterre becoming overcrowded. Sandy Point and Cayon are also experiencing expansion related problemsThe city centre is, for the most part, well planned, being laid out on a grid-iron pattern. Near to the city centre, there are some other areas of well-planned low-to medium-density suburbs (Shadwell, Wades Garden, Ponds Pasture and Fortlands). Interspersed amongst
these, are a few areas of high density residential developments.
Aerial View of the Basseterre Valley, St.Kitts.
In recent years, the city centre has become increasingly congested and its infrastructure is approaching saturation levels. There is scope however to expand outwards, with the availability of 10 hectares (25 acres) of land newly reclaimed from the sea and the construction of a new sea port (Port Zante) in the close vicinity.
In the last 10 years, Basseterre has experienced significant growth of dormitory suburbs at Mattingley, Bird Rock and Earl Morne. In addition, it is also experiencing commercial and industrial expansion on the margins of the town. The traditional suburbs of the capital, Mc Knight, Irish Town and Newtown, where the great majority of the city’s population live, are for the most part poorly planned and present formidable challenges in terms of adequate housing, services and infrastructure provision. Urban renewal programmes appear to be necessary in these areas.
Brimstone Hill Fortress - St. Kitts
Other major land uses in the urban zone include:
§ the Robert L. Bradshaw Airport, which lies close to the urban area;
§ a variety of social infrastructure and institutions including schools, hospitals and churches;
§ significant areas of urban open spaces including park, square, playing fields;
§ cemeteries; and
§ major infrastructure installations, including the power station.
Like St. Kitts, the population is concentrated in the capital, Charlestown. Most villages follow ribbon-style development along the island main road. There is more evidence of dispersed settlement patterns than in St. Kitts, primarily due to the construction of large homes on large land plots mostly by the expatriate community.
St. Kitts and Nevis
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.
Former sugar plantations still dominate the St. Kitts landscape, however many of the cane fields are being burned to make room for land development, especially on the northern side of the island, in the parishes of Saint John Capisterre and Christchurch. The agricultural, tourism, export-oriented manufacturing, and offshore-banking sectors are being developed and are now taking larger roles in the country's economy.
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. The growth of the tourism sector has become the main foreign exchange earner for Saint Kitts and Nevis.
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 $290,740,000 in 2006. Consumer prices have risen marginally over the past few years. The rate of inflation, as measured by the change in the CPI, rose on average by 5.3% in 2006, compared with 3.6% in 2005 and 2.3% in 2004.
St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) 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.
Social Problems and Control
The United States and other countries in the Caribbean are concerned that the islands could come under increasing pressure from drug cartels. While there is very little crime against persons or property, in the last ten years there have been increasing problems, especially on Saint Kitts, with drug smugglers who wish to use the islands for transshipment to the United States. Both Saint Kitts and Nevis maintain small police forces that seldom carry arms. Saint Kitts also maintains a coastal watch program in an effort to impede drug smuggling. If the islands become independent of one another, many observers fear that their size would make them vulnerable to outside pressures for illegal activities.
Fatisha Anita Imo - Miss World Saint Kitts and Nevis 2010
Gender Roles and Statuses
Generally, gender roles owe far more to the pattern of the colonial British then to that of West Africa, with one exception. While the male status has more rights and privileges than the female, especially in the public arena, women have significant rights and, as they approach middle age, may even have authority. Some of the better known and more successful entrepreneurs and political figures are women.
During most of the period before independence, the "respectable" pattern was for men to be the breadwinners and women to tend children at home and confine their social activities to the church and the marketplace. However, many families were matricentric, with the woman and extended kin providing much of the material and affective needs of children. With increased education, women have found new ways to realize their potential and gain public respect.
Ladies of St. Kitts and Nevis
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Marriage is undertaken as both a social responsibility and a sign of adulthood. The reasons given for marriage emphasize love, though parents pressure children, especially females, who are old enough to marry but are not involved in socializing. Sexual experimentation is reluctantly accepted, and that has resulted in 20 percent of the children on Saint Kitts/Nevis being born out of wedlock.
A newly married couple may reside with either set of parents at first but will prefer to live in their own domicile, though usually close to other relatives. With the high percentage of educated citizens living abroad, there are an increasing number of mixed marriages. However, the kinship ties between off-islanders and residents continue to be strong.
Child Rearing and Education. Mothers are differentially involved in child care. Child rearing tends to be mild, with both males and females kept close until boys begin to explore at about school age. Both genders learn appropriate skills and are taught to respect their parents and elders.
Education is valued, and nearly all young people complete primary school. Most then attend secondary school system modeled on that of Great Britain, and a number of the better students obtain scholarships to study in the United States, Great Britain, or other Commonwealth countries.
School kids of St. Kitts and Nevis
Politics of Saint Kitts and Nevis
The politics of Saint Kitts and Nevis takes place in the framework of a federal parliamentary democracy. Saint Kitts and Nevis is an independent Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, represented by a governor-general. He acts on the advice of the prime minister, who is the majority party leader in the National Assembly, and who, with a cabinet, conducts affairs of state.
St Kitts and Nevis has a single National Assembly responsible for making laws, and comprising 14 or 15 members depending upon circumstances. 11 of these are directly elected representatives whilst three are senators appointed by the governor-general (two on the advice of the prime minister and the third on the advice of the leader of the opposition). If the attorney general isn't appointed as a senator then he automatically gets a seat as one, increasing the number of senators to four. Of the 11 elected members, eight represent constituencies in St Kitts and the remaining three represent Nevis seats.
Dr Denzil Douglas prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
The prime minister is appointed from the representatives by the governor-general, who has a constitutional duty to select someone who is likely to command the support of the majority of the representatives. In practice this would normally mean the leader of the majority party or coalition. If there is no suitable candidate, then the governor-general can dissolve the assembly and trigger a general election. Other ministers are also appointed by the governor-general, on the advice of the prime minister (and so effectively by the prime minister). The prime minister can be removed from office by the assembly, or by the governor-general if he feels that the prime minister no longer enjoys the support of the majority of representatives. The assembly is elected every five years unless the governor-general dissolves it before the end of this period, which he may do on the advice of the prime minister.
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 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 March 2000 elections, Denzil Douglas and the Labour Party were returned to power, winning eight of the 11 seats in the House. The Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) won two seats and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) won one seat. The PAM party was unable to obtain a seat.
Under the constitution, Nevis has considerable autonomy and 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. The March 2000 election results placed Vance Armory, as head of the CCM, the leader of the country's opposition party. In the September 7, 2001 elections in Nevis for the Nevis Island Administration, the CCM won four of the five seats available, while the NRP won one. In 2003, the Nevis Island Administration again proposed secession and initiated formal constitutional procedures to hold a referendum on the issue, which was held in early 2004. While opposing secession, the Government acknowledged the constitutional rights of Nevisians to determine their future independence. Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. The most recent elections in Nevis took place on July 10, 2006. Amory's CCM was defeated by the NRP of Joseph Parry, winning only two out of the five elective seats. Parry was sworn in as the third Premier of Nevis a day later.
Like its neighbours in the English-speaking Caribbean, St Kitts and Nevis has an excellent human rights record. Its judicial system is modelled on British practice and procedure and its jurisprudence on English common law. The Royal St Kitts and Nevis Police Force has about 370 members.
As head of state, Queen Elizabeth II is represented by a governor-general who acts on the advice of the prime minister. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor-general. All other ministerial appointments, including that of deputy prime minister, are made by the governor-general, but acting upon the advice of the prime minister.
The National Assembly of Saint Kitts and Nevis consists of one house with eleven elected members, and three appointed Senators—two on the advice of the Prime Minister, one on the advice of the Opposition Leader. If the Attorney General is not appointed as a Senator, he sits in the Assembly as an ex officio member. Despite the difference in titles, Senators do not form a separate house.
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based on Saint Lucia); one judge of the Supreme Court resides in Saint Kitts.
The country is divided in 14 parishes: Christ Church Nichola Town, Saint Anne Sandy Point, Saint George Basseterre, Saint George Gingerland, Saint James Windward, Saint John Capisterre, Saint John Figtree, Saint Mary Cayon, Saint Paul Capisterre, Saint Paul Charlestown, Saint Peter Basseterre, Saint Thomas Lowland, Saint Thomas Middle Island, Trinity Palmetto Point.
Some 95 percent of islanders are Protestants, principally Anglican and Methodist, though there are a number of smaller Protestant sects. Religion remains a very important institution in the society and culture. It is a major vehicle for maintaining community solidarity and providing guidelines to and reinforcing the importance of respectable behavior.
While virtually all islanders identity themselves as Christians, many older and some younger islanders believe in obeah , a form of witchcraft in which an individual can be supernaturally harmed by another person for reasons ranging from a perceived wrong to simple envy.
Rastafarian from St. Kitts and Nevis
Culture of St. Kitts and Nevis
The culture of St. Kitts and Nevis, two small Caribbean islands forming one country, has grown mainly out of the West African traditions of the slave population brought in during the colonial period. France and British colonists both settled the islands, and for a period of time the British imported indentured Irish servants.
St Kitts and Nevis ladies in their African wear
The native Caribs, skilled warriors, defended their lands by attacking the colonies. But by 1782, the British had gained control of St. Kitts and Nevis, which they retained until granting the islands their independence in 1983. British influence remains in the country's official language, English, while some islanders speak an English-based Creole. The influence of the French, Irish, and Caribs seems less pronounced.
The people of St. Kitts and Nevis are devoutly religious. Several historic Anglican churches remain on Nevis, and fifty percent of the country's population still practices the religion. Most other people belong to another Christian denomination, though there are some Rastafarians and Bahá'í followers. An old Jewish cemetery on Nevis proves that there was once a Jewish population as well, but currently there is no active Jewish community in the country.
As in other Caribbean nations, the culture on St. Kitts and Nevis is festive and vibrant. Carnivals and celebrations play an important role in island life. At Christmas time, Carnival is in full swing on St. Kitts. The opening gala takes place in mid-December, with events going on until a few days after New Year's. Among these events, crowd favorites include the Miss Caribbean Talented Teen Pageant, the Junior Calypso Show, and the National Carnival Queen Pageant. Of course, there are also plenty of parades full of people wearing colorful, spangled costumes.
Kittitian masquerade dance by leyghan
Another very popular aspect of Carnival, Masquerade (or Mas) evolved over the past three centuries from a mix of African and European traditions. Masquerade performers wear brightly patterned long-sleeved shirts with trousers, all embellished with bangles, mirrors, and ribbons. Topping off their costumes are masks and headdresses decorated with peacock feathers. Their dances combine elements of waltzes, jigs, wild mas, fertility dances, quadrilles, and other traditional African and European dances.
Stilt-walkers called Moko-Jumbies wear similar but simpler costumes. The word "Moko" may come from the name for a vengeance god in West Africa, where the tradition originated. Or it may derive from the Macaw tree, a tall palm with thorns - headdresses worn by the Moko-Jumbies are said to be patterned after a Macaw in bloom. Wearing stilts six to eight feet high, Moko-Jumbies dance to entertain the crowds.
Clown troupes also perform at this time of year. In groups of about fifty, they dance while a live band plays music. Bells on their baggy, vivid costumes jingle as they move. Pink masks meant to represent Europeans cover their faces.
The music of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The music of Saint Kitts and Nevis is known for a number of musical celebrations including Carnival (December 17 to January 3 on Saint Kitts). The last week in June features the St Kitts Music Festival, while the week-long Culturama on Nevis lasts from the end of July into early August.
In addition, there are other festivals on the island of Saint Kitts. There is Inner City Fest in February in Molineaux Green Valley Festival usually around Whit Monday in village of Cayon, Easterama around Easter (April) in village of Sandy Point, Fest-Tab, around July-August in the village of Tabernacle, and La festival de Capisterre, around Independence Day in Saint Kitts and Nevis (19 September), in the Capisterre region. These celebrations typically feature parades, street dances and salsa, jazz, soca, calypso and steelpan
St Litts and Nevis Culturama festival
The most well-known kind of traditional music is probably seasonal Christmas songs, though there also chanteys and other songs. Music is also a part of the Tea Meetings which are common on the island, featuring a pair of stentorian male singers in a competitive kind of performance in which hecklers play an important role.
Carnival in Saint Kitts and Nevis features music quite prominently. Big Drum and string bands accompany folk performers. Other instruments include shack-shack (a tin can with beads inside), baha (a blown metal pipe), triangle, fife, guitar and quarto.
St Kitts-Nevis National Carnival – Parade Day
Iron bands were introduced to Saint Kitts and Nevis' Carnival in the 1940s, when bands used makeshift percussion instruments from the likes of car rims. Ensembles of local, collaborative musicians formed during this era, playing drums, saxophones, bass guitars and trumpets; these included the Silver Rhythm Orchestra, Brown Queen, Music Makers, Esperanza and Rhythm Kings. The following decade saw the introduction a Trinidadian style called steelpan, brought by Lloyd Matheson, C.B.E., then an Education Officer. The first steelpan band was Roy Martin's Wilberforce Steel Pan. Other bands included the Eagle Squadron, Boomerang, Casablanca, Boston Tigers and The Invaders. Modern Carnival in Saint Kitts and Nevis did not begin until the late 1950s. In the 1960s, brass bands dominated first Carnival, then much of popular music.
Calypso is a style of music from Trinidad and Tobago, consisting of highly lyrical songs that frequently makes topical comments on the ruling classes and social issues of the day.
Calypso music originated in West Africa, and was introduced in the Caribbean during the slave trade by slaves who lived on the sugar plantations.
During slavery, calypso was used for commentary against the oppression and brutal treatment suffered by the slaves at the hands of their masters. This form was called Caiso (Ka-ee-sow) meaning "the town cry", while the singer/composer was called the "Caisonian". This singing was then nicknamed "calypso" by the European slave masters, who called it after the mythological sea nymph calypso because of its melodic ability to captivate its listeners.
The caisonians were then pressured by their masters to sing songs to entertain them in return for certain privileges and an ease of tasks, and for money during the post-emancipation period.
Calypso was subsequently commercialized in Trinidad, where it was sung mainly for entertainment in shows called "calypso tents" during the Trinidad carnival celebrations.
From Trinidad, calypso spread across the Caribbean, and became a major part of Kittitian (or Kittian) music with the introduction of formal calypso competitions in the 1950s. Prominent early calypsonians from this period included Mighty Kush, Lord Mike, Elmo Osborne, Lord Harmony, King Monow and the Mighty Saint. By the 1980s, calypso had begun to peak in popularity on Saint Kitts and Nevis, while the two dominant performers were the rivals Starshield and Ellie Matt.
With its rich soil, St. Kitts and Nevis grow a wide variety of fresh produce. Abundant seafood and meats such as goat add to the diet. The style of cooking is fairly simple, flavored much like other West Indian cuisine. Goat water stew, perhaps the country's most well-known dish, mixes goat, breadfruit, green pawpaw (papaya), and dumplings (also known as "droppers") in a tomato-based stew.
St Kitts and Nevis National dish. It is Stewed saltfish served with spicy plantains, coconut dumplings and seasoned breadfruit. It is a tasty blend of locally available vegetables, spices, coconut and salted cod fish prepared with a distinct St Kitts-Nevis flavor.
Another favorite dish is cook-up, or pelau, which combines chicken, pig tail, saltfish and vegetables with rice and pigeon peas. Conkies bear a large similarity to tamales, though instead of having filling rolled inside the dough, the cornmeal is mixed together with grated sweet potato, pumpkin, coconut, and a few other ingredients; after wrapping the dough in banana leaves, they're boiled rather than steamed. Sweets tend to be simply made, sometimes with nothing more than fruit, like tamarind or guava, and sugar.
Rum is as popular on St. Kitts and Nevis as it is throughout the Caribbean. The Brinley Gold Company manufactures rum on St. Kitts, with such distinctive flavors as coffee, mango, and vanilla. But the national drink is actually Cane Spirits Rothschild (often abbreviated to CSR), distilled from fresh sugar cane. Belmont Estate and St. Kitts Rum also make rum on the island. In addition several of the beach bars will provide moonshine rum produced by individuals with homemade stills.
Many villages on Nevis hold cookouts on Friday and Saturday nights, where people come together to eat, drink, play games like dominoes, and have a good time.
The World Famous Four Season's Resort . Recently named among the top 10 Resorts in the Caribbean by Conde Naste Traveller Magazine Reader's Choice.
A section of the resort is picture here with the beautiful Nevis Peak in the background.
Arts and crafts
Artists of St. Kitts and Nevis create works inspired by their own native traditions, life on the islands, and African roots. Pottery is especially notable, both red clay pieces and pieces fired with colorful glazes and indigenous designs. Paintings often depict tropical landscapes, portraits of islanders, or cultural traditions like clowns performing. Other crafts include rug weaving, wooden items such as carvings, batiks and sculptures, and leather work.
Sports and games
Hearkening back to its British occupation, the country's most loved sport is cricket. Local, regional, and even international matches are played. Horse racing is also popular, particularly on Nevis. The monthly races are festive events, with music and barbecue adding to the fun spirit. Mountain biking, golf, and soccer are other pastimes. St. Kitts also hosts an annual triathlon, which has become increasingly popular since its inception seven years ago. There is also an annual swim across the channel between St. Kitts and Nevis. A local hash association exists as well, with hashes occurring roughly every third Saturday.
Kim Collins, the 2002 Commonwealth and 2003 World Championship 100m winner, is from St. Kitts and Nevis.
Caribbean and ST Kitts and Nevis sprint legend Kim Collins and his family with the staff at Nisbett Plantation in Nevis. Nisbet Plantation was recently awarded the Reader Choice Award for favourite Resort in the Caribbean .
On the island that time forgot is a hotel you will always remember. Nestled in 30 lush tropical acres on Nevis, sister island to St. Kitts, is Nisbet Plantation – the Caribbean’s only historic plantation inn located directly on the beach.
2013- 2014 National Carnival Queen, Kaeve Armstrong
Left to right: Brijesh Lawrence of Saint Kitts and Nevis, London 2012
South East Peninsula, St. Kitts
St Kitts and Nevis Sprint Sensation Tameka Williams
St. John's Anglican Church in Belle Vue, St. Kitts