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Saint Kitts: Country and Foreign Investment

Population, Language and Culture

In 1493, Christopher Columbus was so impressed by the central mountain of Nevis, circled in white mist resembling snow that he named the island “Nuestro Senora del las Nieves” (“Our Lady of the White Snows”). In the course of time this name became abbreviated to Nevis. The name Saint Kitts is a shortened form of its official name, St. Christopher, also given by Christopher Columbus. The inhabitants call themselves Kittitians.

Saint Kitts became Britain's first colony in the West Indies with the founding of a settlement in 1623. Nevis was settled by the British in 1628, after which there followed a period of intermittent warfare between the British, French and Spanish, with the French taking possession in 1706. The island was ceded to Britain by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, but fighting continued until 1782, when it was once again captured by the French. Nevis was officially returned to Britain in 1783 under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Following this, Saint Kitts and Nevis was governed as part of the colony of the Leeward Islands and then of the West Indies Federation until 1967 when it became a governing state in association with Great Britain.

The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis finally attained full political independence in 1983 and, in order to relieve the anxiety of Nevisians, Nevis acquired autonomy within the Federation, together with its own Legislature and Cabinet. In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.

Population of the Federation is approximately 50,700 (July 2012 est), mostly descended from African slaves brought to the islands to work sugar and tobacco crops and indentured servants and small farmers who stayed on after the world drop in sugar prices in the mid-1800s made plantation farming less than lucrative.

Nevis's desire for independence is not dead: On January 1st, 2004, Federation Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas proposed Round Table talks with the Cabinets of the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration, major social partners and key operatives, to examine the options and ramifications of the posible secession of Nevis from the Federation. However, he said that his preference was for both islands to stay together.

Vance Amory, Former Prime Minister of Nevis, said in a televised statement in June 2006 that independence for his island was still a goal of his government. Amory was replaced as the Nevisian leader by Joseph Parry of the Nevis Reformation Party after an election in July 2006 and there have since been signs of rapprochement between the two islands.

Nevis has created separate 'offshore' legislation parallel to Federation legislation, and many Nevisians believe that its economic progress has been due to having greater control over its own affairs.



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