Saint Kitts And Nevis - Tips

Saint Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Saint Kitts and Nevis

The flag of St. Kitts and Nevis is 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


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 15,000).
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.
Climate: Tropical.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Kittitian(s), Nevisian(s).
Population (2006): 42,696 (31,515 on St. Kitts and 11,181 on Nevis).
Annual growth rate (2005): 2.1%.
Ethnic groups: Predominantly of African origin; some of British, Portuguese,
and Lebanese descent.
Religions: Principally Anglican, with Evangelical Protestant and Roman
Catholic minorities.
Languages: English (official).
Education (2005): Adult literacy--97.8%.
Health (2006): Infant mortality rate--18/1,000. Life expectancy--men 66
years; women 73 years.
Unemployment (2006): 5.1%.

Type: Parliamentary democracy; independent sovereign state within the
Constitution: 1983.
Independence: September 19, 1983.
Branches: Executive--governor general (representing Queen Elizabeth II, head
of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet.
Legislative--bicameral Parliament. 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 Labour Party (ruling), People's Action
Movement (PAM), Concerned Citizens Movement (a Nevis-based party), and Nevis
Reformation Party.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

GDP (2005): $453.0 million.
GDP growth rate (2006): 4.6%.
Per capita GDP (2005): $8,210.
Inflation (2005): 3.6%.
Natural resources: Negligible.
Agriculture: Sugarcane, rice, yams, bananas, fish, cotton, peanuts,
Industry: Financial and business services, tourism, construction, clothing,
footwear, beverages, and tobacco.
Trade (2005): Exports--$34 million (merchandise) and $139 million (commercial
services). Major markets--United States (91.9%), EU (3.0%), Trinidad and
Tobago (2%), Netherlands Antilles (0.8%), St. Vincent and the Grenadines
(0.3%). Imports--$210 million (merchandise) and $87 million (commercial
services). Major suppliers--United States (57.9%), Trinidad and Tobago
(14.1%), European Union (9.3%), Japan (3.8%), and Barbados (2.8%).
Official exchange rate: EC$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. Kitts Island. As the first English colony in the Caribbean,
St. Kitts served as a base for further colonization in the region.

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.

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
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.

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 Labour Party. Labour won seven of the 11 seats, with Dr.
Denzil Douglas becoming prime minister. In the March 2000 elections, Denzil
Douglas and the Labour 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.

The constitution gives Nevis considerable autonomy. Nevis 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. In
the July 10, 2006 Nevis elections for the Nevis Island Administration, the
NRP won three of the five seats; the CCM won two. The NRP's Joseph Parry
assumed the premiership of Nevis. 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 association. 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.

Principal Government Officials
Chief of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Sir Cuthbert M. Sebastian
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Sustainable Development, Information
and Technology, Tourism, Culture and Sport--Dr. Denzil Llewellyn Douglas
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Dr. Timothy Sylvester Harris
Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the OAS--Dr.
Izben Williams
Ambassador to the UN--Delano Bart
Principal Nevis Island Government Official, Premier--Joseph Parry

The embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis is located at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW,
Washington, D.C. 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 in 2005, 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 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. Economic growth picked up in
2004, with a real GDP growth rate of 6.4%, followed by 4.1% growth in 2005.
Tourism has shown the greatest growth and is now a major foreign exchange
earner for St. Kitts and Nevis, as evidenced by an 83% increase in foreign
direct investment in a range of tourism-related projects. Significant new
investment included a 648-room Marriott hotel and convention center that
opened in December 2002, as well as other resort projects. In 2006, the
economy of St. Kitts and Nevis posted growth of 4.6%, mostly as a result of
diversification into tourism and construction related to the Cricket World
Cup. The government instituted a program of investment incentives for
businesses considering the possibility of locating in St. Kitts or Nevis,
encouraging 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.

However, the debt of public enterprises has increased, and total public debt
is projected to reach 180% in the coming year. Consumer prices have risen
marginally over the past few years. The rate of inflation, as measured by the
change in the CPI, rose on average by 3.6% in 2005, compared with 2.3% in
2004 and 2.2% in 2003.

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.

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, 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.

Since St. Kitts and Nevis attained full independence in 1983, relations with
the United States have been friendly. 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 and
the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), as well as the USAID office in
Bridgetown, Barbados. In addition, St. Kitts and Nevis 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 United
States 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 United States in 1996, and a
mutual legal assistance treaty in 1997.

St. Kitts and Nevis is a popular American tourist destination. In the
aftermath of September 11, 2001, tourism declined, but the islands have seen
growing numbers of visitors in recent years. 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. citizens.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Mary M. Ourisman
Deputy Chief of Mission--Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
Political/Economic Counselor--Martina Strong (Acting)
Consul General--Clyde Howard Jr.
Regional Labor Attaché--Martina Strong
Economic-Commercial Affairs--Anthony Eterno
Public Affairs Officer--Julie O'Reagan
Peace Corps Director--Kate Raftery

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 Nevis.

The U.S. Embassy in Barbados is located in the Wildey Business Park, Wildey,
St. Michael (tel: 246-436-4950; fax: 246-429-5246). Consular Agent: Rebecca
Simon, Hospital Hill, English Harbor, Antigua Tel: (268) 463-6531.

Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at For
additional information on international travel, see

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
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