About St. Kitts

A BRIEF HISTORY

Originally called Liamuiga (the Fertile Isle) by the native Indians who lived here before the arrival of the Europeans, the island was reputedly named “St. Christopher” by Christopher Columbus after the Patron Saint of Travellers.

St. Christopher (commonly called St. Kitts) and Nevis, separated by just two miles, are two islands in the north eastern Caribbean totalling 261 square kilometres with a population of 45,000.

Despite their small size there is much natural diversity, ranging from forested volcanic mountains soaring to more than 1,000 metres, to coastal plains, dry scrub, golden beaches and vibrant coral reefs in the warm waters offshore.

This welcoming environment no doubt attracted the first settlers from the South American mainland nearly 5,000 years ago and continues to attract settlers and visitors ever since. Christopher Columbus sailed by on his second voyage in 1493.

Permanent European settlement was not made until the early 1600′s when the French Huguenots lived among the aboriginal Arawakan people and cultivated tobacco and food crops. In the 1620′s more organised settlements were made in St. Kitts first by the English, followed shortly by the French who both shared the island between them after defeating the native people.

St. Kitts became a successful colony of France and England and served as a base and a model for the establishment of other English and French colonies in the Caribbean.

African people were brought to the islands from the 1630′s to toil on the tobacco, cotton and then sugar plantations. This infamous trade and exploitation of humans continued into the 19th. century.

The history of the islands, then, like the history of all peoples everywhere, was at times violent and brutal. Nevertheless despite , and even as a result of the the tensions created by slavery, colonialism and economic hardship, a rich culture combining elements from Africa, Europe and native America has evolved.

St. Christopher and Nevis is today an independent country with close historical, economic and institutional ties to other islands in the Caribbean. it is a parliamentary democracy (with general electons constitutionally due every 5 years); and the major economic activities are agriculture (with sugar dominating in St. Kitts), tourism, banking and light manufacturing.

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