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St. Kitts & NevisAlso known as St. Christopher and Nevis, the island of St. Christopher is obviously named after St. Christopher, the patron saint of traveling. The island was originally named St. James by Christopher Columbus, but due to mapping mistakes, the island was marked as San Cristobal (the name Columbus gave to the island of Sabo, which in English is St. Christopher) and that name has stuck. In the 1600s the name St. Kitts became popular, Kitt being a nickname for Christopher at the time. Nevis, originally named San Martin, but also mismarked on the map got the name Nevis from the Spanish Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, which means "Our Lady of the Snows." This name refers to a story of snowfall in fourth century Rome.

Introduction:

The islands of both St. Kitts & Nevis are mountainous and people only live along the coasts. However, the islands get a fair amount of rain and this forms rivers from the mountains, meaning life on the islands is quite sustainable as farming and fishing provide most food. This reliance on agriculture and fishing, today and in the past, is at the core of the lifestyle of the people on the islands, although the culture of the people has changed quite significantly over time.

Prior to European arrival, the islands were home to the Carib people. However, the British, who were the first Europeans to truly settle the islands, came into great conflict with the local Carib people, driving them out of the islands entirely and ending any form of traditional culture on the islands. Although this destroyed the past culture, the lifestyle remained somewhat similar as the British as relied on the lands and seas to sustain life and prosper.

Next came the French; both the British and French sought to gain financial gain from the sugarcane industry on the islands, which were well situated for growing this crop. This led to a need for labor and the beginning of the slave trade from Africa to these islands. Much like the British and French changed the culture upon their arrival, so too did the arrival of the Africans. However, since the Europeans maintained control, the French and British cultures dominated in many ways, although African influences were also introduced.

Eventually the conflicts between the French and British ended with the British taking full control and today many aspects of British culture are well engrained into the national psyche. Even today the people of St. Kitts & Nevis speak English and most of the population is Anglican Christian.

Although many aspects of the culture, including many of the more obvious cultural aspects like language and religion, are based on British roots, today the culture of St. Kitts & Nevis is more focused on the majority, who are the descendants of the African slaves. With these people comes a distinct culture rooted in Africa with vibrant music, dance, art, and foods. However, their lifestyle also reflects the lifestyle of the islands for centuries as the people still work primarily in the agricultural industry, but the services industry is rapidly expanding as tourism is increasing and ever-changing the people, country, and culture.

The green on the flag of St. Kitts & Nevis symbolizes the land's fertility; the red represents the struggles of the people from slavery; yellow symbolizes year round sunshine; and black represents the African heritage of the people. The two white stars represent the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, but also symbolize hope and liberty or independence and optimism.

Name: Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis
Independence: September 19, 1983
Capital: Basseterre
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar
Population: 51,134 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: African & others
Language: English
Religion: Anglican, Protestant, & Catholic

Information for St. Kitts & Nevis was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks