1‑1 Map of
Source: World Bank.
The twin island
Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis is located in the northern part of the Leeward
Islands of the Caribbean (Figures 1-1 and 1-2).
The country has
a total landmass of 267 square kilometers making it the smallest independent country
in the Western Hemisphere. St. Kitts, formally known as Saint Christopher, is the
larger of the two islands. The island of Nevis is located southeast of St. Kitts
across a two mile wide channel and can be reached by ferry in 15 minutes.
St. Kitts is divided into nine parishes, and the island of Nevis into five parishes.
The administrative capital for both islands is Basseterre located on St. Kitts with
a population of around 13,000. The capital and main town of Nevis is Charlestown.
Both St. Kitts and Nevis are fairly easy to navigate with each island having one
main road that passes through the major communities usually located on the coastline.
of St. Kitts and Nevis began in the early 17th century. In 1623 St. Kitts
became the first British colony of the Caribbean region, and was nicknamed “the
mother colony of the West Indies.”*
The island repeatedly alternated between British and French rule. The Treaty of
Paris awarded both islands to the British in 1783. In 1967 Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla
became a self-governing associated state of Great Britain. In 1980 Anguilla seceded
and became a separate territory. St. Kitts and Nevis, the only federation in the
Caribbean, gained independence on 19 September 1983. In 1998, 62 per cent of Nevisians
voted for secession but narrowly fell short of the required 67 per cent.
The most recent
estimated population was 51,970 in 2009.*
Demographic statistics from the 2001 Census are shown in the table below:*
1‑1 Demographic statistics, 2001
Caricom. National Census Report: St. Kitts & Nevis.
Population distribution (%)
Population density (per km2)
Population under 20 years (%)
The majority of
the population is of African descent and the official language is English. Some
Kittitians and Nevisians also speak an English-based creole.
has historically had high rates of emigration. This has led to a large Diaspora
residing in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. There were around
20,000 people born in St. Kitts and Nevis living in those three countries in 2000-01
or almost 40% of the country’s population.*
It is therefore no surprise that remittances account for a significant portion of
the economy. St. Kitts and Nevis accounted for 20% of all remittances among Eastern
Caribbean Currency Union members during 1991-2009 and they contributed 7.1% of the
country’s GDP in 2009.*
The literacy rate
for the federation is 98%, highest in the Eastern Caribbean (Figure 1-3). The implementation
of universal secondary school education in the 1970s—where all final grade primary
school students, irrespective of ability, are transferred to a secondary school—has
contributed to high literacy.
1‑3 Adult literacy rate (% aged 15 and above), 2010
United Nations Development Program.
There are twenty-four
public primary schools and seven public secondary schools. St. Kitts and Nevis has
the best teacher to student ratios in the Eastern Caribbean.
The Student Education
Learning Fund (SELF) provides textbooks to students at no cost and also covers secondary
school examination fees. Students may withdraw from secondary school in the fourth
form (grade 11) and enroll in a program at the National Skills Training Programme
(NSTP) or at the Advanced Vocational Centre (AVEC).
school students can pursue post-secondary studies at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant
College located in St. Kitts or the Sixth Form College in Nevis. The two-year program
prepares students for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam.
of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus provides distance education programs to students
in St. Kitts and Nevis.*
Approximately 130 students attend the Open Campus in St. Kitts and 30 on Nevis with
video conferencing to other campus sites. The country is also home to several offshore
higher educational institutions.
The economy has
traditionally been agriculture-based and particularly the production of sugar. In
July 2005, after successive losses in the sugar industry due to low global prices,
high production costs, and changes in the European Union Sugar Protocol, the government
shut down the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation and the production of sugar
for export virtually halted.
The country has
since diversified into other sectors such as light manufacturing, fishing, and non-sugar
agricultural production and the services sector particularly tourism and financial
1‑2 Map of St. Kitts and Nevis
The World Factbook.
St. Kitts has
the largest electronics assembly industry in the eastern Caribbean region. Five
electronics manufacturing companies, most established in the Government Industrial
Park, produce a range of electronic components for export.
St. Kitts and
Nevis has a well-developed offshore banking and financial services sector. It is
estimated that more than 15,000 offshore companies are registered in
Nevis alone where they are free from taxation and privacy
is protected under the 1985 Confidential Relationship Act.
There is no tax
on personal income. A 17 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in November
The IMF estimated
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita at US$ 9,918 for 2011 (12,502 in purchasing
is home to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). Established in 1985, the ECCB
is responsible for the common currency used on the region. Also located on St. Kitts
is the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange (ECSE), a regional securities market established
by the ECCB.
tourists visited St. Kitts and Nevis in 2009. Recent investment has fuelled growth
of the tourism sector with a 57 per cent increase in visitors between 2006 and 2009.*
of St. Kitts and Nevis has a unicameral National Assembly consisting of eleven elected
members and three senators. The ruling Labour Party led by Dr Denzil Douglas, the
longest-serving Prime Minister among the Eastern Caribbean islands, occupies six
of the seats and has been in power since 1995.
The island of
Nevis has its own administration, legislation and premier; three elected representatives
from Nevis serve in the National Assembly. As a member of the Commonwealth, the
Queen of England is the formal head of state of the federation.