Welcome to St. Kitts & Nevis
My plane approaches two small islands, and from the air I can already feel the sand in my toes. Welcome to St. Kitts & Nevis – two tiny, volcanic islands in Caribbean.
The first people to reach these islands were hunter-gatherers who migrated from present-day Florida around 3,000 BCE. Over the next few thousand years, various groups of people from Central and South America settled here, and in 1493 the first Europeans reached St. Kitts & Nevis during an expedition led by Christopher Columbus.
By the early 1600s, the English and French were main settlers of St. Kitts and the island would switch hands several times during the 17th century. The two nations continued to fight for control of more islands in the eastern Caribbean, using St. Kitts as an important military base. In 1783, Britain gained full control of St. Kitts.
Nevis’ history was slightly less rocky. It is only separated from St. Kitts by two miles of water, but the islands were governed as separate states until the 19th century.
While under control of the British Empire the sugar cane industry flourished. Plantations dedicated to its production sprung up on both islands. Sugar cane is extremely labor intensive to produce, which led to the mass import of African slaves.
The number of slaves forcibly sent to the Caribbean was so large that today, many islands in the area are predominantly occupied by people of African descent. St. Kitts & Nevis are no exception, and its arts, culture, and cuisine reflects this African heritage.
St. Kitts & Nevis achieved independence from Britain in 1983, and today, the two islands are governed as one nation.