Photos of Saint Kitts and Nevis

Introduction

Background

Carib Indians occupied the islands of the West Indies for hundreds of years before the British and French began settlement in 1623. During the course of 17th century, Saint Kitts became the premier base for English and French expansion into the Caribbean. The French ceded the territory to the UK in 1713. At the turn of the 18th century, Saint Kitts was the richest British Crown Colony per capita in the Caribbean, a result of the sugar trade. Although small in size and separated by only 3 km (2 mi) of water, Saint Kitts and Nevis were viewed and governed as different states until the late-19th century, when the British forcibly unified them along with the island of Anguilla. In 1967, the island territory of Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla became an associated state of the UK with full internal autonomy. The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971. The remaining islands achieved independence in 1983 as Saint Kitts and Nevis. In 1998, a referendum on Nevis to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority vote needed.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, islands in the Caribbean Sea, about one-third of the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago

Geographic coordinates

17 20 N, 62 45 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 261 sq km (Saint Kitts 168 sq km; Nevis 93 sq km)

land: 261 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 211

Area - comparative

1.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

135 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate

tropical, tempered by constant sea breezes; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)

Terrain

volcanic with mountainous interiors

Elevation

highest point: Mount Liamuiga 1,156 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

Land use

agricultural land: 23.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 19.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 3.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 42.3% (2018 est.)

other: 34.6% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

8 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

24 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

population clusters are found in the small towns located on the periphery of both islands

Natural hazards

hurricanes (July to October)

volcanism: Mount Liamuiga (1,156 m) on Saint Kitts, and Nevis Peak (985 m) on Nevis, are both volcanoes that are part of the volcanic island arc of the Lesser Antilles, which extends from Saba in the north to Grenada in the south

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

smallest country in the Western Hemisphere both in terms of area and population; with coastlines in the shape of a baseball bat and ball, the two volcanic islands are separated by a 3-km-wide channel called The Narrows; on the southern tip of long, baseball bat-shaped Saint Kitts lies the Great Salt Pond; Nevis Peak sits in the center of its almost circular namesake island and its ball shape complements that of its sister island

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Kittitian(s), Nevisian(s)

adjective: Kittitian, Nevisian

Ethnic groups

African descent 92.5%, mixed 3%, White 2.1%, East Indian 1.5%, other 0.6%, unspecified 0.3% (2001 est.)

Languages

English (official)

Religions

Protestant 74.4% (includes Anglican 20.6%, Methodist 19.1%, Pentecostal 8.2%, Church of God 6.8%, Moravian 5.5%, Baptist 4.8%, Seventh Day Adventist 4.7%, Evangelical 2.6%, Bretheren 1.8%, other .3%), Roman Catholic 6.7%, Rastafarian 1.7%, Jehovah's Witness 1.3%, other 7.6%, none 5.2%, unspecified 3.2% (2001 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.87% (male 5,357/female 5,336)

15-24 years: 13.46% (male 3,504/female 3,741)

25-54 years: 43.64% (male 12,010/female 11,477)

55-64 years: 13.03% (male 3,527/female 3,485)

65 years and over: 10% (male 2,540/female 2,844) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 36.5 years

male: 36.7 years

female: 36.3 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

Birth rate

12.43 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Death rate

7.24 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 108

Net migration rate

1.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Population distribution

population clusters are found in the small towns located on the periphery of both islands

Urbanization

urban population: 30.9% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.06% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

14,000 BASSETERRE (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 8.5 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.76 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 11.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.83 years

male: 74.37 years

female: 79.34 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 96

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.3% of population

rural: 98.3% of population

total: 98.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.7% of population

rural: 1.7% of population

total: 1.7% of population (2015 est.)

Physicians density

2.68 physicians/1,000 population (2015)

Hospital bed density

4.8 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 87.3% of population

rural: 87.3% of population

total: 87.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 12.7% of population

rural: 12.7% of population

total: 12.7% of population (2017 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 18 years

male: 16 years

female: 19 years (2015)

Environment

Environment - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion and silting affects marine life on coral reefs; water pollution from uncontrolled dumping of sewage

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 12.31 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.24 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.1 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 15.4 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 200,000 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

24 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

tropical, tempered by constant sea breezes; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)

Land use

agricultural land: 23.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 19.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 3.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 42.3% (2018 est.)

other: 34.6% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Urbanization

urban population: 30.9% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.06% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 32,892 tons (2015 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis

conventional short form: Saint Kitts and Nevis

former: Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis

etymology: Saint Kitts was, and still is, referred to as Saint Christopher and this name was well established by the 17th century (although who first applied the name is unclear); in the 17th century a common nickname for Christopher was Kit or Kitt, so the island began to be referred to as "Saint Kitt's Island" or just "Saint Kitts"; Nevis is derived from the original Spanish name "Nuestra Senora de las Nieves" (Our Lady of the Snows) and refers to the white halo of clouds that generally wreathes Nevis Peak

note: Nevis is pronounced neevis

Government type

federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Basseterre

geographic coordinates: 17 18 N, 62 43 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the French name translates as "low land" in English; the reference is to the city's low-lying location within a valley, as well as to the fact that the city is on the leeward (downwind) part of the island, and is thus a safe anchorage

Administrative divisions

14 parishes; Christ Church Nichola Town, Saint Anne Sandy Point, Saint George Basseterre, Saint George Gingerland, Saint James Windward, Saint John Capesterre, Saint John Figtree, Saint Mary Cayon, Saint Paul Capesterre, Saint Paul Charlestown, Saint Peter Basseterre, Saint Thomas Lowland, Saint Thomas Middle Island, Trinity Palmetto Point

Independence

19 September 1983 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 19 September (1983)

Constitution

history: several previous (preindependence); latest presented 22 June 1983, effective 23 June 1983

amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires approval by at least two-thirds majority vote of the total Assembly membership and assent of the governor general; amendments to constitutional provisions such as the sovereignty of the federation, fundamental rights and freedoms, the judiciary, and the Nevis Island Assembly also require approval in a referendum by at least two thirds of the votes cast in Saint Kitts and in Nevis

Legal system

English common law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 14 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Samuel W.T. SEATON (since 2 September 2015); note - SEATON was acting Governor General from 20 May to 2 September 2015

head of government: Prime Minister Timothy HARRIS (since 18 February 2015); Deputy Prime Minister Shawn RICHARDS (since 22 February 2015)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by governor general in consultation with prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by governor general

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (14 or 15 seats, depending on inclusion of attorney general; 11 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 3 appointed by the governor general - 2 on the advice of the prime minister and the third on the advice of the opposition leader; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 5 June 2020 (next to be held on 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - Team Unity (PAM, CCM,PLP) 56.4%, SKNLP 34.5%, NRP 9%; seats by party - PAM 4, SKNLP 2, CCM 3, PLP 2

Judicial branch

highest courts: the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the superior court of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; the ECSC - headquartered on St. Lucia - consists of the Court of Appeal - headed by the chief justice and 4 judges - and the High Court with 18 judges; the Court of Appeal is itinerant, traveling to member states on a schedule to hear appeals from the High Court and subordinate courts; High Court judges reside in the member states, with 2 assigned to Saint Kitts and Nevis; note - the ECSC in 2003 replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) as the final court of appeal on Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Kitts and Nevis is also a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice

judge selection and term of office: chief justice of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court appointed by Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, an independent body of judicial officials; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62

subordinate courts: magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Concerned Citizens Movement or CCM [Mark BRANTLEY]
Nevis Reformation Party or NRP [Joseph PARRY]
People's Action Movement or PAM [Shawn RICHARDS]
People's Labour Party or PLP [Dr. Timothy HARRIS]
Saint Kitts and Nevis Labor Party or SKNLP [Dr. Denzil DOUGLAS]

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, MIGA, OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Dr. Thelma Patricia PHILLIP-BROWNE (since 28 January 2016)

chancery: 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016

telephone: [1] (202) 686-2636

FAX: [1] (202) 686-5740

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Saint Kitts and Nevis; the US Ambassador to Barbados is accredited to Saint Kitts and Nevis

Flag description

divided diagonally from the lower hoist side by a broad black band bearing two white, five-pointed stars; the black band is edged in yellow; the upper triangle is green, the lower triangle is red; green signifies the island's fertility, red symbolizes the struggles of the people from slavery, yellow denotes year-round sunshine, and black represents the African heritage of the people; the white stars stand for the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, but can also express hope and liberty, or independence and optimism

National symbol(s)

brown pelican, royal poinciana (flamboyant) tree; national colors: green, yellow, red, black, white

National anthem

name: Oh Land of Beauty!

lyrics/music: Kenrick Anderson GEORGES

note: adopted 1983

This is an audio of the National Anthem for Saint Kitts and Nevis. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.:

Economy

Economic overview

The economy of Saint Kitts and Nevis depends on tourism; since the 1970s, tourism has replaced sugar as the economy’s traditional mainstay. Roughly 200,000 tourists visited the islands in 2009, but reduced tourism arrivals and foreign investment led to an economic contraction in the 2009-2013 period, and the economy returned to growth only in 2014. Like other tourist destinations in the Caribbean, Saint Kitts and Nevis is vulnerable to damage from natural disasters and shifts in tourism demand.

Following the 2005 harvest, the government closed the sugar industry after several decades of losses. To compensate for lost jobs, the government has embarked on a program to diversify the agricultural sector and to stimulate other sectors of the economy, such as export-oriented manufacturing and offshore banking. The government has made notable progress in reducing its public debt, from 154% of GDP in 2011 to 83% in 2013, although it still faces one of the highest levels in the world, largely attributable to public enterprise losses. Saint Kitts and Nevis is among other countries in the Caribbean that supplement their economic activity through economic citizenship programs, whereby foreigners can obtain citizenship from Saint Kitts and Nevis by investing there.

Real GDP growth rate

2.1% (2017 est.)

2.9% (2016 est.)

2.7% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.396 billion (2019 est.)

$1.358 billion (2018 est.)

$1.319 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 203

GDP (official exchange rate)

$964 million (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$26,438 (2019 est.)

$25,902 (2018 est.)

$25,360 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 77

Gross national saving

19.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

19.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

15.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 106

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 30% (2017 est.)

services: 68.9% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 41.4% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 25.9% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 30.8% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 62.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -60.4% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 54.6 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 85.9 (2020)

Trading score: 81 (2020)

Enforcement score: 65.5 (2020)

Agricultural products

coconuts, tropical fruit, roots/tubers nes, vegetables, sweet potatoes, pulses nes, watermelons, carrots/turnips, eggs, tomatoes

Industries

tourism, cotton, salt, copra, clothing, footwear, beverages

Budget

revenues: 307 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 291.1 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

62.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

61.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 67

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$97 million (2017 est.)

-$102 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Exports

$57.4 million (2017 est.)

$53.9 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 203

Exports - partners

United States 69%, Germany 8%, Italy 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

low-voltage protection equipment, broadcasting equipment, measuring instruments, electric motor parts, electrical transformers (2019)

Imports

$335.3 million (2017 est.)

$307.9 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 203

Imports - partners

United States 59%, Peru 6%, Germany 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, jewelry, ships, cars, poultry meats, cement (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$365.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$320.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Debt - external

$201.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$187.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 187

Exchange rates

East Caribbean dollars (XCD) per US dollar -

2.7 (2017 est.)

2.7 (2016 est.)

2.7 (2015 est.)

2.7 (2014 est.)

2.7 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 17,766

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33.23 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 78,970

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 147.71 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 197

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: good interisland and international connections; broadband access; expanded FttP (Fiber to the Home) and LTE markets; regulatory development; telecom sector contributes greatly to the overall GDP; telecom sector is a growth area (2020)

domestic: interisland links via ECFS; fixed-line teledensity about 33 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity is roughly 148 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 1-869; landing points for the ECFS, Southern Caribbean Fiber and the SSCS submarine cables providing connectivity for numerous Caribbean Islands (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

the government operates a national TV network that broadcasts on 2 channels; cable subscription services provide access to local and international channels; the government operates a national radio network; a mix of government-owned and privately owned broadcasters operate roughly 15 radio stations

Internet users

total: 42,852

percent of population: 80.71% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 16,400

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 31 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2 (2019)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

Railways

total: 50 km (2008)

narrow gauge: 50 km 0.762-m gauge on Saint Kitts for tourists (2008)

country comparison to the world: 132

Roadways

total: 383 km (2002)

paved: 163 km (2002)

unpaved: 220 km (2002)

country comparison to the world: 200

Merchant marine

total: 218

by type: bulk carrier 4, container ship 3, general cargo 35, oil tanker 52, other 124 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 65

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Basseterre, Charlestown

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Ministry of National Security: St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force (SKNDF), St. Kitts and Nevis Coast Guard, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (2021)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the SKNDF has approximately 300 personnel (2019)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SKNDF is lightly armed with equipment from Belgium, the UK, and the US (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service (under 18 with written parental permission); no conscription (2021)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; some money-laundering activity