Welcome to St Kitts
Officially known as St Christopher, the island was named by
Christopher Columbus on landing there in 1493, but it wasn't until
it became an English colony in 1623 that its name was shortened to
St Kitts, by which the island is known today.
A lush, verdant island, St Kitts is the larger of the
twin-island nation and is more developed than Nevis, however
neither island has succumbed to the usual tourist trappings, and St
Kitts remains a naturally unassuming, uncrowded destination that is
a true gem in the Caribbean crown. Dominated by an extinct 3,792ft
(1,156m) volcano, the island is covered in green vegetation and
sugar cane fields, and is ringed by sandy coves, coral reefs and
clear waters. Most beaches to the north are black sand due to the
volcanic nature of the island, but the beaches at the southern end,
including Frigate Bay, Banana Bay, Sand Bank Bay and Cockleshell
Bay, are what beach-gurus dream of: deserted stretches of fine
white sand; while those yearning for waves will find Atlantic surf
along the east coast.
However there is more to St Kitts than splendid natural
surroundings and beaches. An explosive history of slave revolutions
and colonial contention during the 18th century has left the island
with a rich heritage of architecture, as well as sites such as the
impressive fortress at Brimstone Hill, which was constructed to
defend the wealth, and to protect the wealthy, of the island.
During the prosperous days of the sugar industry, St Kitts as the
oldest and richest colony in the Caribbean boasted 68 sugar
plantations in total. With the abolition of slavery, and the
production of beet sugar in Europe, the surge of wealth finally
came to an end, and today the once prolific factories and windmills
lie in ruins among the abandoned sugar plantations. St Kitts was
the last island in the Caribbean to persist in the production of
sugar cane, but the industry has been discontinued due to the high
Information & Facts
St Kitts experiences a warm climate all year round. The
temperature is moderated by cool sea breezes but there are no major
seasonal changes. Rainfall is more prevalent in the months from May
to November, when temperatures are on the increase.
English is the official language.
The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD), which
is divided into 100 cents. It is tied to the US dollar at a rate of
US$1=EC$2.70. Most businesses accept US Dollar notes as payment,
but change is given in EC$. Travellers cheques and major credit
cards are widely accepted, and major currencies can be exchanged at
banks, with US Dollars the cheapest to exchange. Most banks are
closed on weekends, but provide 24-hour ATM services.
Local time is GMT -4.