Saint Kitts and Nevis Overview
|Federation of Saint
Kitts and Nevis
|Form of government
||Parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth
||East Caribbean dollar
|Telephone area code
The island state in the eastern Caribbean
(officially: Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,
officially English: Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis)
consists of the two islands of St. Kitts (officially:
St. Christopher) and Nevis, which belong to the Leeward
Islands, an archipelago of the Lesser Antilles. The
state borders on Antigua and Barbuda in the southeast,
and the Netherlands Antilles in the northwest.
Saint Kitts (169 km², 37 km long, up to 8 km wide) is
separated by a 3 km wide strait from Nevis (93 km²).
Both islands are of volcanic origin and characterized by
mountains. On St. Kitts, a central mountain range runs
from the northwest to the southeast, which is cut by
deep gorges and reaches up to 1 156 m in Mount Liamuiga
(formerly Mount Misery). There is a crater lake in the
more than 700 m deep crater. The second highest mountain
is Mount Verchilds at 893 m. Sulfur springs indicate
continued volcanism, earthquakes also occur. In the
south of St. Kitts there is a peninsula with many bays
and white sandy beaches, while the sand of the beaches
in the north of the island is black.
Nevis is located in the southeast of St. Kitts, here
the extinct volcano Nevis rises up to a height of 985 m.
The capital, Basseterre, is on the island of St. Kitts.
Saint Kitts and Nevis have a tropical climate, which
is tempered by the northeast trade wind. The
temperatures are almost constant all year round with an
average of 27 ˇăC. The annual rainfall is up to 1,500 mm
on the windward east coast, but it can be more on the
mountain slopes. Up to 800 mm are measured on the west
coast. Much of the rainfall falls from July to November.
Cyclones can also occur during this time.
Flora and fauna
In the drier regions of the islands there is sparse
dry forest that had to give way to plantations and
grasslands in many places. Evergreen rainforest with its
great variety of plants grows on the mountain slopes. At
higher altitudes, the rainforest changes into mountain
Due to the island location there are only a few
mammals on St. Kitts and Nevis, for example monkeys and
mongooses were introduced. The bird life is rich in
species, including various hummingbirds, parrots,
pelicans and frigate birds. The coastal waters are very
rich in fish.
Around 45,000 people live in the island nation, a
good three quarters of them on the larger island of St.
Kitts. Around a third of the total population lives in
the capital, Basseterre. The largest settlement on Nevis
is Charlestown (1,800 residents). The average population
density is 172 people per square kilometer. Population
growth is low at 0.8% despite the significant birth
surplus due to the high emigration rate.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 85% of the population are descendants of black
African slaves, mulattoes (hybrids of blacks and
Europeans) make up about 11% of the population, whites
mostly of British origin about 2%. A small Asian
minority lives on the islands. Most residents profess
Christianity: around 34% are Anglicans, 30% Methodists,
9% Moravians and 10% Catholics.
The official language is English, Creole English is
used as the colloquial language. The population's
medical care is good, and there are hospitals on both
islands. The average life expectancy is around 72 years.
School attendance is compulsory for children, so 97% of
the island's residents can read and write.
Based on the 1983 constitution, Saint Kitts and Nevis
is a parliamentary monarchy within the British
Commonwealth of Nations. The head of state is the
British monarch Elizabeth II (since 1952), who is
represented on the island by a governor general (since
January 2013 Edmund Lawrence). The governor-general
appoints the prime minister as head of government of the
country, who is usually the leader of the strongest
party in parliament (since July 1995 Denzil Douglas).
The legislature lies with the parliament, which
consists of a chamber (national assembly) with 15 seats.
Eleven of the MPs are elected by the people for a
five-year term (eight from St. Kitts, three from Nevis),
three are appointed by the Governor General, one member
is "ex officio".
The island state is divided into 14 municipalities.
Nevis has its own island parliament ("Nevis Assembly")
and the status of a state with the right to later
In the meantime, tourism has become the most
important economic factor in the island state. The
financial sector is also of increasing importance. The
capital, Basseterre, is home to the Central Caribbean
Central Bank and an Eastern Carbbean Securities Exchange
for the eight Eastern Caribbean countries.
The long cultivation of sugar cane was supplemented
by rice, jams, fruits and vegetables. Cyclones always
lead to severe crop losses and large-scale destruction.
The industry is only moderately developed and focuses
on the processing of agricultural products. The
loss-making sugar industry was shut down in 2005.
Machines, textiles and electrical goods (assembly from
prefabricated parts) are also manufactured.
The USA is the most important trading partner for
both exports (agricultural products) and imports.
The road network of both islands covers a total of
around 320 km, half of which are paved. The islands are
connected by ship and air traffic. Basseterre on St.
Kitts is a deep-sea port and there is an international
airport near the capital.
The currency is the East Caribbean dollar.