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The nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis is officially named the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis but is commonly known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. The country is a commonwealth realm. Independence was granted to the country in 1983. The monarch of Britain is the head of state for all commonwealth member nations. An appointed governor-general represents the British Crown. A prime minister works with the other ministers and is a member of the cabinet as well as the head of government.

The country is made up of two islands in the West Indies: the island of Saint Kitts and the island of Nevis. They are situated in the leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles and are approximately 2 miles from one another.

The capital is Basseterre, which is on Saint Kitts. More than 90% of the population is black, 5% Mulatto, 3% Indian, 1% white, and 0.6% other. The official language is English. Today, its economy is dependent upon tourism and their offshore financial companies.

St. Kitts is roughly oval in shape. It is approximately 23 miles long and 5 miles wide at its widest point. Nevis is round and is about 36 square miles.

Sugarcane was, at one time, a nationalized industry and the main means of income for the country. This stopped in 2005 after the overseas markets declined.Now, the crops are vegetables and fruits. Other items that sustain the economy include batik-dyed fabric, electronic equipment, and furniture.

Christopher Columbus visited Saint Kitts in 1493 on his second voyage, when the Caribs still inhabited it. He named the island Saint Christopher in honor of his patron saint.

Englishman Sir Francis Drake made a stop on Saint Christophers over Christmas of 1585; Captain Bartholomew Gilbert, also from England, visited both islands in 1603; and Captain John Smith stayed on Nevis for five days on is way to establish Jamestown Colony, the first permanent English settlement in North America in 1607.

The island's name was shortened to Saint Kitts by Sir Thomas Warner and settlers who travelled with him to the area in 1623. They set up the first successful British colony in the West Indies.

Three years later, in 1626, the French arrived with the intention of starting a settlement. And so they each had their settlements on separate parts of the island and divided by a partition.

But the French and the British were constantly attacking one another's settlements.

In 1626, fed up with the French and the English on Saint Kitts, the Carib Chief Tegremond hatched a plan to get rid of them all. But the chief was betrayed by a member of his tribe, Barbe, who told the leaders of both the English settlement and the French settlement.

The French and the English settlers joined together for this moment in time and invited the Caribs to a party. The Caribs got drunk, and once they got home, Chief Tegremond and 119 other Caribs were killed in their sleep. The next day, close to 4,000 Caribs were forced into the Bloody River where more than 2,000 were mowed down.

Meanwhile, Nevis was accumulating a very different history. The tiny, round island had a volcano right in the middle.

Nevis was sighted by Columbus at the same time as St. Kitt. It was settled by the English in 1628 by Anthony Hilton, who had moved to Nevis from Saint Kitts after a murder plot by his indentured servant to kill him was exposed. He brought with him 80 other settlers, though there would soon be another 100 or so from England.

Hilton became the first Governor of Nevis, and because of the slave trade and the sugar cane, the island was became the richest of the islands in the British Leeward Islands.

The divisions between the two colonies were irreparable, and in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht gave Saint Kitts to England, and Nevis to the French.

An 1882 federal act reunited the islands of Saint Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla, and were granted 100% internal self-government as one independent state. They combined their governments into the Saint Kitts Assembly. There were 10 seats in that Assembly, Nevis had two, Anguilla had one, and Saint Kitts had seven. They still had as their head of state the monarch of England, as England was still responsible for their foreign affairs and defense.

Anguilla was vocal about the fact that they had little say in affairs of state due to the fact that their one seat did not make much of a difference, and in May of 1967, three months after independence was granted to them, they expelled the St. Kitts police from their island and created their own council.

Two months later, they declared their own independence. The Anguilla Act of 1971 put Anguilla under direct control of Britain. Five years later, the union with Saint Kitts was formally dissolved in 1980.

The independence of Saint Kitts and Nevis was finally consummated in September of 1983.

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