Saint Kitts and Nevis

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Introduction to Saint Kitts and Nevis

The islands of St Kitts and Nevis are two of the sleepiest places in the Caribbean, and one of the few countries in the region where agriculture is still a larger part of the economy than tourism. Some people find the islands' relaxed nature ideal; others get restless after a few days.

Most visitors fly into St Kitts, which on a clear day provides a glimpse of the island's mountainous interior, the patchwork of cane fields that carpets its lowlands, and the rugged hills, salt ponds and deeply indented bays of its southeastern peninsula.

The two islands form the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere, so it's not hard to cover the best of the attractions in two or three days and still have time left for an indolent lounge in the sun.

Full country name: Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis

Area: 104 sq km

Population: 40,700

Capital City: Basseterre

People: African (90%), European

Language: English

Religion: Anglican (33%), Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Adventist, Moravian, Jehovah's Witness

Government: independent state within the British Commonwealth

Head of State: Governor General Sir Cuthbert M Sebastian (representing Queen Elizabeth II)

Head of Government: Prime Minister Denzil L Douglas

GDP: US$191.5 million

GDP per capita: US$4,529

Annual Growth: 5%

Inflation: 0.9%

Major Industries: Agriculture, light manufacturing, tourism.

Major Trading Partners: USA, UK, Caricom countries, Canada, Japan

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Traveler Facts

Visas: Visas are not required of most visitors, including citizens of the US, Canada, Western Europe and Commonwealth countries, for stays of up to six months. All visitors need passports except US and Canadian citizens, who may enter with proof of citizenship such as an official birth certificate and a photo ID. Visitors are required to be in possession of a roundtrip or onward ticket.

Health risks: sunburn, diarrhoea, intestinal worms

Time Zone: GMT/UTC -4

Dialling Code: 869

Electricity: 230V ,60Hz

Weights & measures: Imperial

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On St Kitts, the biggest event is the week-long Carnival, held from December 24 to January 2. It's celebrated with calypso competitions, costumed street dances and steel band music. In the last week in June, the four-day St Kitts Music Festival brings together top-name soca, salsa and jazz performers from throughout the Caribbean. Nevis has a week-long Culturama from late July to early August featuring music, crafts, parades and cultural events.

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Best time to Visit

St Kitts is warm year-round, rarely getting below 27C (72F) at night, rarely above 30C (86F) by day. Given that rates are higher and places more crowded during the peak winter tourist season (December to February), the best time to go is the summer low-season (June to August); but keep in mind that, if you plan to travel to other Caribbean destinations, some of them are appreciably hotter than St Kitts and Nevis during the summer.

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Currency / Costs / Approx. Spending

Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar


Budget: US$3-10

Mid-range: US$10-30

High: US$30-50

Deluxe: US$50+


Budget: US$25-75

Mid-range: US$75-150

High: US$150-300

Deluxe: US$300+

It's possible to travel comfortably here for around US$225 a day as long as you don't purchase a wardrobe of batik and a suitcase full of rum. A moderate budget should run between US$125 and $225 a day, depending on whether you rent a car or not. A minimal budget should be between US$50 and $125.

Larger tourist-related charges, such as car rental and hotel bills, are generally quoted in US dollars, although you can pay in either US or EC dollars. Note that many businesses will give you a slightly worse exchange rate than the official one if you pay in US dollars. Most hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants accept major credit cards. Hotels and restaurants add a 7% tax and usually a 10% service charge. When a restaurant doesn't add a service charge, a 10% tip is appropriate.

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The small undistinguished capital of Basseterre sits on the edge of a wide bay backed by green hills, and is home to nearly half the population of St Kitts. The city's name, which means 'lowland', is one of the few remaining traces of French settlement on the island.

The dominant European influence in Basseterre, however, is overwhelmingly British, reflected in the buildings and even the layout of its streets. In a fit of anglophilic urban planning, Basseterre added a traffic roundabout and called it the Circus.

Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

The rambling 18th-century compound known in its day as the 'Gibraltar of the West Indies' was once a major British garrison until it was abandoned in 1850. A major restoration was undertaken in the 1960s and much of the fortress has been returned to its earlier grandeur.

The main hilltop compound, the Citadel, is lined with 24 cannons and provides excellent views of St Eustatius and Sandy Point Town. Inside the Citadel's old barrack rooms are museum displays on colonial history that feature cannonballs, swords and other period odds and ends. There's also a small collection of Amerindian adzes, a few pottery fragments and a rubbing of the Carib petroglyphs in Old Road Town. Brimstone Hill, upon which the fortress stands, is a volcanic cone named for the odoriferous sulfur vents that you'll undoubtedly detect as you drive past the hill along the coastal road.

Old Road Town

If you're feeling underwhelmed by Basseterre, you can explore some of St Kitts' better historic and natural sights along the coastal Circle-Island Road. Narrow gauge tracks run alongside the road and the odds are good that you'll see vintage sugar cane trains hauling loads to the mills.

One of the best places to stop on the road is the seaside village of Old Road Town, a few miles west of Basseterre. Old Road Town was the spot where the first British settlers landed in 1623. It's also the site of an earlier habitation, as revealed by the Carib petroglyphs on view.

Southeast Peninsula

St Kitts' southeastern peninsula is wild and starkly beautiful, with barren salt ponds, grass-covered hills and scrubby vegetation. The main inhabitants are green vervet monkeys and a few wild deer. Frigate Bay, the main beach resort area on the island, spans the northern end of the peninsula.

Beaches on the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts frame a small collection of shops, condominiums and a casino. Unless you're staying here or planning to do some gambling, Frigate Bay is mainly a good place to stock up on supplies for a day of hiking, snorkelling or sunbathing.

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Disclaimer: We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify critical information like (visas, health and safety, customs, and transportation) with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Sources: CIA FactBook, World FactBooks and numerous Travel and Destinations Guides.

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