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Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis, officially Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, also called Saint Christopher and Nevis, state composed of two islands of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Their combined area is 104 square miles (269 square km). The capital is Basseterre on the island of Saint Kitts.
Saint Kitts is 23 miles (37 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) wide, is oval in shape, and has an area of 68 square miles (176 square km). A volcanic mountainous ridge down the centre forms a semicircle around a plain in the southeast. Mount Liamuiga (formerly Mount Misery), with a lake in its forested crater, is the highest point (3,792 feet [1,156 metres]). The soil—except in the mountains—is light and porous. Most of the beaches are of black volcanic sands. The island is well watered and fertile, with warm summers and somewhat cooler winters. The average summer temperature is about 86 °F (30 °C) and the average winter temperature about 81 °F (27 °C). The annual precipitation averages 55 inches (1,397 mm), and the rainy season is from May to November.
Nevis, surrounded by coral reefs, lies 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Saint Kitts across a channel known as The Narrows. The island is circular, and it consists almost entirely of a mountain, Nevis Peak (3,232 feet [985 metres]), which is flanked by the lower Round Hill (1,014 feet [309 metres]) on the north and by Saddle Hill (1,850 feet [564 metres]) on the south. Its area is 36 square miles (93 square km). The soil of Nevis is clay studded with volcanic boulders. The climate is similar to that of Saint Kitts. Both Nevis and Saint Kitts lie in a tropical hurricane (tropical cyclone) belt; hurricane season is between August and October.
The population is largely black, with a small mulatto (of mixed African and white heritage) minority. There are also very small South Asian and white groups. The official language is English. The main religious denominations are Anglican and Methodist, with a smaller number of Roman Catholics. Both Saint Kitts and Nevis have traditionally had high levels of emigration, offsetting natural increases and enabling the islands to maintain a fairly stable population.
The cultivation of sugarcane—once a nationalized industry and the mainstay of the Saint Kitts and Nevis economy—ceased in 2005 following a decline in overseas markets. It was replaced by tourism as the most-important economic sector. Crops now cultivated include vegetables and fruits, chiefly coconuts.
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