The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis,located in the Leeward Islands, is a federal two-island state in the West Indies. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, in both area and population.
The capital city and headquarters of government for the federated state is Basseterre on the larger island of Saint Christopher. The smaller island of Nevis lies about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called "The Narrows".
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.
The country has two main islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis. The highest peak, at 1,156 metres, is Mount Liamuiga.
The islands are of volcanic origin, with large central peaks covered in tropical rainforest; the steeper slopes leading to these peaks are mostly uninhabited. The majority of the population on both islands lives closer to the sea where the terrain flattens out. There are numerous rivers descending from the mountains of both islands, which provide fresh water to the local population. St. Kitts also has one small lake.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a twin-island federation whose economy is characterised by its dominant tourism, agriculture and light manufacturing industries. Sugar was the primary export from the 1640s on, but rising production costs, low world market prices, and the government's efforts to reduce dependence on it have led to a growing diversification of the agricultural sector. In 2005, the government decided to close down the state-owned sugar company, which had experienced losses and was a significant contributor to the fiscal deficit.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is known for a number of musical celebrations including Carnival (18 December to 3 January 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.
Additional festivals on the island of Saint Kitts include Inner City Fest, in February in Molineaux; Green Valley Festival, usually around Whit Monday in village of Cayon; Easterama, around Easter in village of Sandy Point; Fest-Tab, in July or 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 music.
Popular destinations in St. Kitts
- Frigate Bay