St.Kitts & Nevis At a glance
Location: Caribbean, islands in the Caribbean Sea; Capital: Basseterre; Time difference: GMT -4; Total Area: 261 km2; Population:50,314; Age Demographics: 0-14: 22.8%, 15-64: 69.6%, 65+: 7.6%; Population growth: 0.823%; Languages: English; Religions: Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic; Government Type: Parliamentary democracy and Commonwealth realm; Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (XCD), tied to USD; Exchange rate: XCD 2.70 = 1 USD; GDP (per capita): $13,700 USD; GDP (purchasing power parity): $684 million USD (2010);
St.Kitts & Nevis History
Located in the northern section of the Eastern Caribbean Sea approximately 2,000 km Southeast from Miami St Kitts & Nevis was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. At the time of his landing on the first island it was occupied by Carib Indians and Christopher Columbus subsequently named after St. Christopher, his patron saint. On a second voyage Nevis was discovered.
European occupation did not occur until 1623-24, with initially English and then French settlers arrived on St. Christopher's Island, whose name the English shortened to St. Kitts Island. As the first English colony in the Caribbean, St. Kitts served as a base for further colonization in the region. From 1628 – 1713 the English and French jointly held St Kitts and during the 17th century, intermittent warfare between French and English settlers ravaged the island's economy. Meanwhile Nevis was settled by English settlers in 1628, and under English rule grew prosperous. St. Kitts was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The French seized both St. Kitts and Nevis in 1782. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 definitively awarded both islands to Britain. They were part of the colony of the Leeward Islands from 1871-1956, and of the West Indies Federation from 1958-62. In 1967, together with Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis became a self-governing state in association with Great Britain; Anguilla seceded late that year and remains a British dependency. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis attained full independence on September 19, 1983.
St.Kitts & Nevis Economy
St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. The ECCB has kept the EC$ pegged at EC$2.7 to U.S. $1. The Headquarters of ECCB is located in Basseterre St Kitts.
The economy experienced strong growth in the 1990's but after 2 hurricanes in 1998 and 1999 followed by the 9/11 USA terrorist attacks hurt the tourism dependent nation. Additionally after year of losses at the state run sugar company the government decided to close the sugar industry in 2005. To compensate for the loss of the sugar industry, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has begun exploring alternative energy uses for sugar cane. In recent years the country has began to experience growth again this can be partly attributed to tourism diversification such as the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Tourism has shown the greatest growth and is now a major foreign exchange earner for St. Kitts and Nevis.
St.Kitts & Nevis Government
St Kitts & Nevis is a Commonwealth country and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. Like other Commonwealth countries she is represented by a Governor General presently this position is held by Sir Cuthbert Sebastian. The prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas is the leader of the majority party of the House of Representatives, 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.