Saint Kitts, also known more formally as Saint Christopher Island, is an island in the West Indies. The west side of the island borders the Caribbean Sea, and the eastern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean. Saint Kitts and the neighbouring island of Nevis constitute one country: the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Saint Kitts and Nevis are separated by a shallow channel known as "The Narrows".
Saint Kitts became home to the first Caribbean British and French colonies in the mid-1620s. Along with the island nation of Nevis, Saint Kitts was a member of the British West Indies until gaining independence on September 19, 1983.
The island is one of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. It is situated about southeast of Miami, Florida, US. The land area of Saint Kitts is about , being approximately long and on average about across.
Saint Kitts has a population of around 40,000, the majority of whom are of African diaspora. The primary language is English language, with a literacy rate of approximately 98%. Residents call themselves Kittitians.
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest fortress ever built in the Western Caribbean. The island of Saint Kitts is home to the Warner Park Cricket Stadium, which was used to host 2007 Cricket World Cup matches. This made Saint Kitts and Nevis the smallest nation to ever host a World Cup event. Saint Kitts is also home to several institutions of higher education, including Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, Windsor University School of Medicine, and the University of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Saint Kitts is away from Sint Eustatius to the north and from Nevis to the south. St. Kitts has three distinct groups of volcanic peaks: the North West or Mount Misery Range; the Middle or Verchilds Range and the South East or Olivees Range. The highest peak is Mount Liamuiga, formerly Mount Misery, a dormant volcano 1,156 m high.
St. Kitts was originally settled by pre-agricultural, pre-ceramic "Archaic people", who migrated south down the archipelago from Florida. In a few hundred years they disappeared, to be replaced by the ceramic-using and agriculturalist Saladoid people around 100 BC, who migrated to St. Kitts north up the archipelago from the banks of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. Around 800 AD, they were replaced by the Igneri people, members of the Arawak peoples group.
Around 1300, the Kalinago, or Carib people arrived on the islands. These agriculturalists quickly dispersed the Igneri, and forced them northwards to the Greater Antilles. They named Saint Kitts "Liamuiga" meaning "fertile island", and would likely have expanded further north if not for the arrival of Europeans.
A Spain expedition under Christopher Columbus arrived and claimed the island for Spain in 1493.
The first England colony was established in 1623, followed by a France colony in 1625. The English and French briefly united to massacre the local Kalinago," Top 10 attractions in St Kitts". The Guardian. October 1, 2013. and then partitioned the island, with the English colonists in the middle and the French on either end. In 1629, a New Spain sent to clear the islands of foreign settlement seized St. Kitts. The English settlement was rebuilt following the 1630 peace between England and Spain.
The island alternated repeatedly between English (then British) and French control during the 17th and 18th centuries, as one power took the whole island, only to have it switch hands due to treaties or military action. Parts of the island were heavily fortified, as exemplified by the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Brimstone Hill and the now-crumbling Fort Charles.
Since 1783, Saint Kitts has been affiliated with the Kingdom of Great Britain, which became the United Kingdom.
The purchasing of enslaved Africans was outlawed in the British Empire by an Act of Parliament in 1807. Slavery was abolished by an Act of Parliament which became law on 1 August 1834. This emancipation was followed by four years of apprenticeship, put in place to protect the planters from losing their labour force.
August the 1st is now celebrated as a public holiday and is called Emancipation Day. In 1883, Saint Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla were all linked under one presidency, located on Saint Kitts, to the dismay of the Nevisians and Anguillans. Anguilla eventually separated out of this arrangement, in 1971, after an armed raid on Saint Kitts.
Sugar production continued to dominate the local economy until 2005, when, after 365 years of having a mono-culture, the government closed the sugar industry. This was due to huge losses and European Union plans to greatly cut sugar prices.
For hundreds of years, Saint Kitts operated as a sugar monoculture, but due to decreasing profitability, the government closed the industry in 2005. Tourism is a major and growing source of income to the island, although the number and density of resorts is less than on many other Caribbean islands. Transportation, non-sugar agriculture, manufacturing and construction are the other growing sectors of the economy.
Saint Kitts is dependent on tourism to drive its economy. Tourism has been increasing since 1978. In 2009, there were 587,479 arrivals to Saint Kitts compared to 379,473 in 2007, which represents an increase of just under 40% growth in a two-year period. As tourism grows, the demand for vacation property increases in conjunction.
Saint Kitts & Nevis also acquires foreign direct investment from their unique citizenship by investment programme, outlined in their Citizenship Act of 1984. Interested parties can acquire citizenship if they pass the government's strict background checks and make an investment into an approved real estate development. Purchasers who pass government due diligence and make a minimum investment of US$400,000, into qualifying government approved real estate, are entitled to apply for citizenship of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Many projects are approved under the citizenship by investment programme, and the main qualifying projects of interest can be found within the Henley Estates market overview .
The country hosts an annual St. Kitts Music Festival.
The Basseterre Ferry Terminal facilitates travel between Saint Kitts and sister island Nevis.
The narrow-gauge (30 inches Schwartzman, M. T. "St. Kitts Railway: One Sweet Ride," Cruise Travel, December 2005, accessed 15 December 2012.) St Kitts Scenic Railway circles the island and offers passenger service from its headquarters near the airport, although the service is geared more for tourists than as day-to-day transportation for residents. Built between 1912 and 1926 to haul sugar cane from farms to the sugar factory in Basseterre, since 2003 the railway has offered a 3.5 hour, 30-mile circle tour of the island on specially designed double-decker open-air coaches, with 12 miles of the trip being by bus. Saint Kitts Scenic Railway, official site, accessed 15 December 2012.