Saint Kitts and Nevis

 

First settled by the British in 1623, the islands became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971. Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983. In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. Nevis continues in its efforts to try and separate from Saint Kitts.

 

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
People:
Population: 50,726 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.8% (male 5,701/female 5,755)

15-64 years: 69.6% (male 17,740/female 17,297)

65 years and over: 7.6% (male 1,681/female 2,140) (2011 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

Government type: parliamentary democracy
Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 20,600 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 84,600 (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 2 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Royal Saint Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (includes Coast Guard), Royal Saint Kitts and Nevis Police Force; for national security, Saint Kitts and Nevis relies on the Regional Security System, headquartered in Barbados (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)

Economy:

Sugar was the traditional mainstay of the Saint Kitts economy until the 1970s. Following the 2005 harvest, the government closed the sugar industry after decades of losses of 3-4% of GDP annually. To compensate for employment losses, the government has embarked on a program to diversify the agricultural sector and to stimulate other sectors of the economy. Activities such as tourism, export-oriented manufacturing, and offshore banking have assumed larger roles in the economy and have contributed to the recent robust growth. Tourism revenues are now the chief source of the islands’ foreign exchange; about 341,800 tourists visited Nevis in 2005. The current government is constrained by a high debt burden, public debt reached 190% of GDP by the end of 2005, largely attributable to public enterprise losses.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela’s claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under UNCLOS, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea
Illicit drugs: transhipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; some money-laundering activity