St Kitts and its smaller sister island, Nevis, were inhabited first by Arawak and Carib Indian tribes. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493, it was he who supposedly named the larger of the two islands after St.Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. Later on, as the story goes, island's name was shortened by passing British sailors to St. Kitts.
British settlers arrived in 1623 and were joined shortly thereafter by the French, and between the two, they eventually eliminated the original Indian population (some native Islanders left on their own accord due to warfare and other factors). In the 1700s, Spanish refugees and Dutch traders found the islands the perfect place for growing sugar cane, and a hugely profitable industry was born. Soon after, the islands became a magnet for privateers, pirates, and ne'er-do-wells from throughout the Caribbean. Fortunes were made and the island's populations swelled with the influx of African slave labor for the sugar-cane industry.
As a result of the huge amounts of wealth, the islands were under constant attack. Warfare between the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch governments continued for years, finally ending in 1783 with the islands falling under British rule as part of the Treaty of Versailles. But, by the time slavery was abolished in 1834, the sugar-cane heyday was winding down and the islands suffered economic losses. In 1983, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. Since then, the islands have experienced an economic turn-around as eco-tourism destinations and as a vacation playground for Europeans and Americans.
Where is St. Kitts?
St. Kitts is located in the eastern Caribbean and is a 45-minute plane ride from Puerto Rico. St. Kitts is only about 69 square miles with a population of around 32,000, and Nevis is just 36 square miles with approximately 12,000 residents. Both islands are of volcanic origin with St. Kitts having the highest elevation of the two islands. At 3,792 feet, the summit of Mt. Liamuiga, a long since dormant volcano, is now a vast tropical forest. The islands are separated by a narrow, two-mile wide channel. Check out infoplease.com, geographica.com and stkittstourism.com for more information and maps of St. Kitts.
St. Kitts and Nevis benefit from the northeast trade winds most of the year. This helps to lower the humidity, but their location is also in the path of possible tropical storms from June to October. For more on St.Kitts weather conditions check out stkittsguide.com or weather.com.
Plan your travel accordingly:
- Temperatures average 75 to 88 degrees year-round
- Rarely temperatures can reach into the 90s, but humidity is low
- Rainfall varies by elevation and can be as low as 50 inches per year to more than 200 inches during May-October
- January to April is the driest season
- Average water temperatures hover around 80 degrees