Last week my housemate, B, and I were entertaining one of the little girls she nannies at our house, and I was letting her play school with my small dry erase board. The first grader grandly announced that I, her student, would be learning about “our great federation.” Obviously a phrase she’s heard used many times in school.
(The fact that the Mister and I are temporarily part of the Federation is a wonderful technicality that seems to be lost on most people, but I love it.)
It was requested a few weeks ago that I have a post about the island itself – what sorts of businesses and activities we have here, what the land is like, etc. So this is that post, albeit probably not as in-depth as some would like.
The Federation of Saint Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis is made up of two islands (obviously called St. Kitts and Nevis). We are located in the upper Antilles islands in the West Indies, also known as the Leeward Islands. The Federation is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, both in land and in population. It was among the first Caribbean islands to be settled by Europeans and was home to the first British and French colonies in the area.
This is where we are in the grand scheme of things.
The total Federation is approximately 104 square miles, and that is divided between two islands and includes the small amount of water area claimed by the country. The two islands gained independence from Britain on September 19, 1983, and Nevis is still trying to gain its independence from St. Kitts.
The middle portion of the island is mountainous and not many people live there. There are no roads going through the island and only one road – “Island Road” – going around the shoreline. Driving around the main part of the island takes about three hours. Most of the population congregates along the shoreline and a majority of that is at the southern end of the main part of the island (before you go onto the skinny peninsula), because that’s where Basseterre and Frigate Bay are – the two most popular areas of the country. The peninsula is very under-developed, but at least one luxury resort and several high-class condominiums are under construction with the hopes of attracting big spenders. (The cover image at the top of this blog is a view looking down the peninsula. The Atlantic Ocean is on the left and the Caribbean Sea is on the right.)
Doesn’t it look like a chicken leg?
I’ve been told there are about 40,000 people on the island and approximately 80,000 green vervet monkeys, which are native to the federation and found nowhere else. There are probably about that many centipedes, too. . . but that’s a different story.
As far as businesses, we have a Subway, a KFC and a Church’s Chicken in Basseterre (the capitol city), but they get mixed reports as to whether or not the food is totally safe. There are no drive-thrus anywhere on the island, which makes sense because a “quick meal” anywhere takes at least 30 minutes between the time that you order and the time you get your food. And that’s when a full staff is focused and attentive, which doesn’t happen often.
A view looking north from Brimstone Fortress, a National World Heritage site originally built by the British to defend the island from the Spanish navy.
There are three “major” (as in, not just a hole in the wall) grocery stores. There are several independent restaurants, including a pizza place, a sushi place, an Indian place and a French place. There are also a couple higher-end restaurants for those who are on luxury vacations and can afford to spend more money. I think there are about five, and two are inside the Marriott Hotel and Casino, which is easily the largest and most extravagant building on the entire island. The largest percentage of restaurants are beach bars, which can be found on almost all of the island’s beaches and typically serve hamburgers, French fries, seafood and alcohol. Mainly alcohol.
Sunset from Timothy Beach – aka “The Strip” – as Friday’s cruise ship sails away.
Main island activities for those who are interested include going to a beach (we have both black and white sand beaches) or swimming pool, snorkeling, hiking, golfing at the Marriott and, for those who can afford it, going on Catamaran trips (like a large sailboat with an open bar). Key words: open bar. Basically, the main island activity is drinking and the primary food group here is alcohol.
There are three major international schools on the island: Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, Windsor Medical School and the International University of Medical and Health Sciences. (The Ross University Medical School is on Dominica, not Nevis as mentioned earlier. Thanks to Jackie for finding my mistake.)
Let me know if there is any else you would specifically like to read about and I will do my best to find the answers for you.
(All the historical facts and specific statistics I got from Wikipedia, since the St. Kitts tourism site doesn’t seem to be working at the moment.)