Saint Kitts And Nevis

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not set
Type Country
Usage English
Pronounced Pron. saynt kits and NEE-vis
  [key·IPA]
Other Forms FormsFederation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, Liamuiga

Meaning & History

Saint Kitts and Nevis, officially known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, is an island country in the West Indies. Located in the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles, it is the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere, in both area and population. The country is a Commonwealth realm, with Elizabeth II as Queen and head of state. It is the only federation in the Caribbean.

The capital city is Basseterre, located on the larger island of Saint Kitts. Basseterre is also the main port for both passenger entry (via cruise ships) and cargo. The smaller island of Nevis lies approximately 3 km (2 mi) to the southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called The Narrows.

Saint Kitts was named Liamuiga, which roughly translates as 'fertile land', by the Kalinago, who originally inhabited the island. The name is preserved via St. Kitts's tallest peak, Mount Liamuiga. Nevis's pre-Columbian name was Oualie, meaning "land of beautiful waters".

It is thought that Christopher Columbus, the first European to see the islands in 1493, named the larger island San Cristóbal, after Saint Christopher, his patron saint, and that of travelers. New studies suggest that Columbus named the island Sant Yago (Saint James) and that the name San Cristóbal was in fact given by Columbus to the island now known as Saba, 32 km (20 mi) northwest. It seems that San Cristóbal came to be applied to the island of St. Kitts only as a result of a mapping error. No matter the origin of the name, the island was well documented as San Cristóbal by the 17th century. The first English colonists kept the English translation of this name and dubbed it St. Christopher's Island. In the 17th century, a common nickname for Christopher was Kit(t); hence, the island came to be informally referred to as Saint Kitt's Island, later further shortened to Saint Kitts.

Columbus gave Nevis the name San Martín. The current name Nevis is derived from the Spanish name Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, meaning 'Our Lady of the Snows'. It is not known who chose this name for the island, but it is a reference to the story of a 4th-century Catholic miracle: a summertime snowfall on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. It is thought that the white clouds which usually wreathe the top of Nevis Peak reminded someone of the story of a miraculous snowfall in a hot climate. The island of Nevis, upon first British settlement, was referred to as Dulcina, a name meaning 'sweet one' in Spanish. Eventually, the original Spanish name was restored and used in the shortened form, Nevis.

Today the Constitution refers to the state as both Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Christopher and Nevis, but the former is the one most commonly used, however, the latter is generally used for diplomatic relations.
Added 3/15/2021 by I like old names