St. Kitts in the Past and in the Present

St. Kitts' past is marked by hardships and wars, but hope-filled prospects are fueling its future

Photo credit: © Jason P Ross |

St. Kitts and Nevis are two unique and beautiful vacation spots in the Eastern Caribbean that share some of the same rich history as many of their Caribbean counterparts. This dual-island nation is noted for a heritage forged by Europeans, Africans, and the islands' indigenous people, who inhabited the country long before exploration and colonization. In addition to a beach for every day of the year, St. Kitts and Nevis offer a fascinating blended heritage to explore.


St. Kitts and Nevis are located between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tabago, and are volcanic in origin.  The islands have a total area of 104 square miles, making it two-thirds the size of Barbados. 


Before Christopher Columbus began his exploration of the Caribbean, and colonization had not yet reached St. Kitts and Nevis, the islands were inhabited by indigenous indians called the Siboney, who left very few artifacts behind. The Siboney were followed by the Arawaks, who were a peaceful group of farmers, but who were eventually taken over by the Carib Indians. The Caribs were fierce warriors, and when European settlers began to arrive on St. Kitts, the Carib people waged war against the British and French colonists.

The British colonists began to settle on St. Kitts around 1623 and on Nevis around 1628, and French settlers came to the island around 1627. For a time, the French and Anglo colonists maintained a relatively peaceful relationship that helped them defeat the Caribs and ward off Spanish attacks. Eventually, the relationship would sour, creating a bitter rivalry that lasted more than 100 years. St. Kitts and Nevis came under permanent British control in 1782 with a victory over the French at Brimstone Hill.


The British began to establish St. Kitts and Nevis as sugar-cultivating islands, which were maintained at first by Irish servants, and then, on a larger scale by black slaves taken from Africa. The influence of African slaves on the culture of St. Kitts is apparent in the island's population today, which consists mostly of people of African descent. The African heritage of St. Kitts' population (which currently sits around 42,696 residents) is seen in various aspects of culture, including art, music, food, and celebrations.

Economy businesses on the islands.


The sugarcane industry's reign over St. Kitts and Nevis has come to an end because the cultivation of sugar is no longer as profitable as it was many years ago. Tourism has already taken the place of the sugarcane industry, and it accounts for the majority of the island's foreign exchange. The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is also subsidizing the country's economy with various fiscal proposals that include incentives for establishing new businesses on the islands. St. Kitts remains an independent commonwealth of the United Kingdom, and has a unicameral republic form of government. 

Vacationers visiting the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis will find that these wonderful little tropical locations are rich in culture, and if you plan your stay just right, you can experience some of the many vibrant celebrations the islanders hold annually.


Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.

About Food