Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Area: St. Kitts 168 sq. km. (65 sq. mi.); Nevis
93 sq. km. (36 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capital--Basseterre (pop. about
Terrain: Generally mountainous; highest
elevations are 1,156 m. (3,792 ft.) at Mt.
Liamuiga on St. Kitts and 985 m. (3,232 ft.) at
Nevis peak on Nevis.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Kittitian(s),
Population (2002 est.): 46,710.
Annual growth rate (2000): 4.8%.
Ethnic groups: Predominantly of African origin;
some of British, Portuguese, and Lebanese
Religions: Principally Anglican, with
Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic
Languages: English (official).
Education (2001): Years compulsory--9.
Health (2000): Infant mortality rate--12.7/1,000.
Life expectancy--70 yrs.
Unemployment (2001): 5%.
Type: Constitutional monarchy with
Independence: September 19, 1983.
Branches: Executive--governor general
(representing Queen Elizabeth II, head of
state), prime minister (head of government),
cabinet. Legislative--an 11-member senate
appointed by the governor general (mainly on the
advice of the prime minister and the leader of
the opposition) and an 11-member popularly
elected house of representatives. Judicial--magistrate's
courts, Eastern Caribbean supreme court (high
court and court of appeals), final appeal to
privy council in London.
Administrative subdivisions: 14 parishes.
Political parties: St. Kitts and Nevis Labor
Party (ruling), People's Action Movement (PAM),
Concerned Citizens Movement (a Nevis-based
party), and Nevis Reformation Party.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (2004): $403.9 million.
GDP growth rate (2004): 5.1%.
Per capita GDP (2004 est.): $8600.
Natural resources: Negligible.
Agriculture: Products--sugar (ending
after 2005 harvest), cotton, peanuts,
Industry (2004): Financial and business
services, tourism, construction, sugar
processing, cotton, salt, copra, clothing,
beverages, and tobacco.
Trade (2004): Exports--$54 million.
Major markets--U.K., U.S. and CARICOM.
Exchange rate: Eastern Caribbean $2.70=U.S.$1.
At the time of European discovery, Carib Indians
inhabited the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Christopher Columbus landed on the larger island
in 1493 on his second voyage and named it after
St. Christopher, his patron saint. Columbus also
discovered Nevis on his second voyage,
reportedly calling it Nevis because of its
resemblance to a snowcapped mountain (in
Spanish, "nuestra senora de las nieves" or our
lady of the snows). European colonization did
not begin until 1623-24, when first English,
then French colonists arrived on St.
Christopher's Island, whose name the English
shortened to St. Kitt's Island. As the first
English colony in the Caribbean, St. Kitts
served as a base for further colonization in the
The English and French held St. Kitts jointly
from 1628 to 1713. During the 17th century,
intermittent warfare between French and English
settlers ravaged the island's economy. Meanwhile
Nevis, settled by English settlers in 1628, grew
prosperous under English rule. St. Kitts was
ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht
in 1713. The French seized both St. Kitts and
Nevis in 1782.
The Treaty of Paris in 1783 definitively
awarded both islands to Britain. They were part
of the colony of the Leeward Islands from
1871-1956, and of the West Indies Federation
from 1958-62. In 1967, together with Anguilla,
they became a self-governing state in
association with Great Britain; Anguilla seceded
late that year and remains a British dependency.
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis attained
full independence on September 19, 1983.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
As head of state, Queen Elizabeth II is
represented in St. Kitts and Nevis by a governor
general, who acts on the advice of the prime
minister and the cabinet. The prime minister is
the leader of the majority party of the house,
and the cabinet conducts affairs of state. St.
Kitts and Nevis has a bicameral legislature: An
11-member senate appointed by the governor
general (mainly on the advice of the prime
minister and the leader of the opposition); and
an 11-member popularly elected house of
representatives which has eight St. Kitts seats
and three Nevis seats. The prime minister and
the cabinet are responsible to the Parliament.
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 Eastern
Caribbean 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 Labor Party. Labor won
seven of the 11 seats, with Dr. Denzil Douglas
becoming prime minister. In the March 2000
elections, Denzil Douglas and the Labor Party
were returned to power, winning eight of the 11
seats in Parliament. 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 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 will be
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
Like its neighbors in the English-speaking
Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis has an excellent
human rights record. Its judicial system is
modeled on British practice and procedure and
its jurisprudence on English common law. The
Royal St. Kitts and Nevis police force has about
Principal Government Officials
Chief of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Sir Cuthbert M. Sebastian
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Home Affairs, and Finance--Dr. Denzil Douglas
Ambassador to the U.S. and Permanent
Representative to the OAS--Dr. Izben Williams
Ambassador to the UN--Dr. Joseph Christmas.
Principal Nevis Island Government Official,
embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis is
located at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington,
DC 20016 (tel. 202-686-2636).
St. Kitts and Nevis was the last sugar
monoculture in the Eastern Caribbean until the
government decided to close the sugar industry
following the 2005 harvest 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
embarked on a program to diversify the
agricultural sector and stimulate the
development of other sectors of the economy.
The government instituted a program of
investment incentives for businesses considering
the possibility of locating in St. Kitts or
Nevis, encouraging both 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. Tourism
has shown the greatest growth. By 1987, tourism
had surpassed sugar as the major foreign
exchange earner for St. Kitts and Nevis.
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. Real economic
activity picked up to 5.1% in 2004 after a slow
0.75% growth rate in 2002 and a decline of 4.3 %
in 2001. Significant new investment in tourism,
including a 648-room Marriott hotel and
convention center that opened in December 2002,
as well as several other planned resort projects
are expected to improve economic performance.
Consumer prices have risen marginally over the
past few years, and the inflation rate was 3%-4%
for most of the 1990s.
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.
St. Kitts and Nevis maintains diplomatic
relations with the United States, Canada, the
United Kingdom, France, Russia, Taiwan, Cuba and
South Korea, as well as with many Latin American
countries and neighboring Eastern Caribbean
states. It is a member of the Commonwealth, the
United Nations and several of its specialized
and related agencies, the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund, the Organization of
American States, the Organization of Eastern
Caribbean States, the Eastern Caribbean Regional
Security System (RSS), and the Caribbean
Community and Common Market (CARICOM). The
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is headquartered
in St. Kitts.
As a member of CARICOM, St. Kitts and Nevis
strongly backed efforts by the United States to
implement UN Security Council Resolution 940,
designed to facilitate the departure of Haiti's
de facto authorities from power. The country
agreed to contribute personnel to the
multinational force, which restored the
democratically elected government of Haiti in
U.S.-ST. KITTS AND NEVIS RELATIONS
Since St. Kitts and Nevis attained full
independence in 1983, relations with the U.S.
have been friendly. The U.S. Embassy in
Bridgetown, Barbados, conducts bilateral
relations with St. Kitts and Nevis.
The United States seeks to help St. Kitts and
Nevis develop economically and to help
strengthen its moderate, democratic,
parliamentary form of government. St. Kitts and
Nevis is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean
Basin Initiative. U.S. assistance is primarily
channeled through multilateral agencies such as
the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB),
and the newly opened USAID office in Bridgetown,
Barbados. In addition, St. Kitts and Nevis
receives counternarcotics assistance and
benefits from U.S. military exercises and
humanitarian civic action construction projects.
St. Kitts and Nevis is strategically placed
in the Leeward Islands, near maritime transport
lanes of major importance to the United States.
St. Kitts and Nevis' location close to Puerto
Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands makes the
two-island federation attractive to narcotics
traffickers. To counter this threat, the
Government of St. Kitts and Nevis cooperates
with the U.S. in the fight against illegal
narcotics. In 1995, the government signed a
maritime law enforcement treaty with the United
States, later amended with an overflight/order-to-land
amendment in 1996. St. Kitts and Nevis also
signed an updated extradition treaty with the
U.S. in 1996, and a mutual legal assistance
treaty in 1997.
St. Kitts and Nevis is a popular American
tourist destination. In 1999, over 40% of the
84,000 stay-over visitors were from the U.S. The
majority of the 143,800 yacht and cruise ship
passengers also were from the U.S. In the
aftermath of September 11, 2001, tourism
declined by approximately 9%, according to
American Airlines officials. Government
officials cite the loss of airline connections,
including those of U.S. carriers, between the
Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and the U.S.,
Canada, and Europe as the critical factor. After
9/11 both U.S.-based and regional carriers have
reduced the number of flights to the Federation.
The number of "stay-over" visitors to the
islands suffered a 10% falloff, and even though
cruise ship arrivals increased, this situation
remains unstable. The tourism situation improved
slightly in 2002, with the number of tourist
visitors totaling 243,198, a majority of these
from within the Caribbean, followed closely by
arrivals from the U.S. Visitor expenditure
totaled $57 mil and the government is
Government officials are convinced that
continued construction of a 648 room, U.S. $200
million Marriott Royal St. Kitts Resort and
Casino and a Paradise Beach Resort and Casino at
Frigate Bay, St. Kitts are signs of confidence
in the economic future of St. Kitts and Nevis,
despite the world-wide effects of the 9/11
tragedies. Fewer than 1,000 U.S. citizens reside
on the island, although students and staff of
Ross University Veterinary School and the
Medical University of the Americas (Nevis)
constitute a significant population of U.S.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
Political/Economic Counselor--Sheila Peters
Consul General--Clyde Howard Jr.
Regional Labor Attaché--Alfred Anzaldua
Economic-Commercial Affairs--John Ashworth
Public Affairs Officer--Julie O'Reagan
Peace Corps Director--Terry Armstrong
The United States maintains no official
presence in St. Kitts and Nevis. The ambassador
and embassy officers are resident in Barbados
and frequently travel to St. Kitts and Nevis. A
U.S. consular agent residing in nearby Antigua,
however, assists U.S. citizens in St. Kitts and
U.S. Embassy in Barbados is located in
the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Building,
Broad Street, Bridgetown (tel: 246-436-4950;
fax: 246-429-5246). Consular Agent: Juliet Ryder
Hospital Hill, English Harbor, Antigua Tel: