The two islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis were Britain's
first foothold in the West Indies, colonized in 1623. In
1624, the French also settled, and the ensuing fighting led
to a decline in the indigenous Caribbean population. From
the 18th century the islands have been British.
In 1967, Saint Kitts and Nevis gained internal autonomy
and association agreement with the United Kingdom. The
neighboring island of Anguilla also officially belonged to
the Associated State until 1980, but was then separated and
placed directly under British rule.
In the 1980 elections, the Labor Party, the St. Kitts
and Nevis Labor Party (SKNLP), lost the majority in the
National Assembly for the first time in nearly 30 years.
abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of St. Kitts and Nevis. This led to a postponement of the independence process,
especially following opposition from the people of Nevis.
The disagreement over a new constitution in December 1982
led to social unrest. Independence was therefore further
postponed, but implemented in September 1983.
Kennedy Simmonds, who represented the People's Action
Movement (PAM) party, was the prime minister of the
island nation from 1980 to 1995 with support from the
Nevis Reformation Party (NRP). For the first time after
independence, SKNLP won the 1995 election and formed a new
government under the leadership of Denzil Douglas. Douglas
continued as prime minister after the 2000 elections,
re-elected in 2004 and 2010. Following the 2015 election,
former Secretary of State Timothy Harris, representative of
the outbreak party People's Labor Party (PLP), was
inaugurated as new prime minister.
Politics and economics
A key issue for the SKNLP government under Denzil Douglas
was to gain control of drug smuggling, which has become a
dominant feature of the country's economy. Saint Kitts and
Nevis are still a debt-ridden nation, but tourism and
offshore business provide important growth impetus for the
economy. The transition in business was clearly visible when
the last factory in the 300-year-old sugar industry was
closed down in 2005 - two years after the inauguration of
the largest hotel complex in the eastern Caribbean.
In 1996, Nevis made a new push for secession from Saint
Kitts. However, in a 1998 referendum, separatists did not
achieve the necessary two-thirds majority.