An island country in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean.
Saint Kitts is an oval-shaped volcanic island crossed by rugged mountains. In the south-east a narrow isthmus enlarges to a knot of salt ponds. Three kilometres (2 miles) to the south-east, Nevis, is a smaller island. Both have an equable, tropical climate. The tiny island, Sombrero, is included in the group.
Agriculture has been replaced by tourism as the main source of revenue, and both manufacturing and service industries are developing. The chief crops are sugar cane, coconuts, and fruit, and the leading industries are food-processing, electronics, and clothing.
Originally inhabited by Caribs, the islands were visited by Christopher Columbus in 1493, who named the larger island Saint Christopher. English settlers in the early 17th century shortened the name to Saint Kitts; this was the first successful English colony in the Caribbean. The islands, together with Anguilla, were united as a single colony in 1882. In 1958, they joined the West Indies Federation. Anguilla became a separate British dependency in 1980, while Saint Kitts and Nevis gained independence within the British Commonwealth in 1983. Nevis has its own legislature and retains the right to secede from Saint Kitts at any time should it so choose. In 1998 a referendum was held in which 60% of the voters favoured secession, which fell short of the two-thirds majority required for independence.
Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)
269.4 sq km (104.0 sq miles)
1 East Caribbean dollar = 100 cents
Anglican 25.2%; Methodist 25.2%; Pentecostal 8.4%; Moravian 7.6%; Roman Catholic 6.7%
Black 90.5%; mixed 5.0%; East Indian 3.0%; White 1.5%
UN; OAS; Commonwealth; CARICOM; WTO
Subjects: World History.