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Saint Kitts and Nevis


Hurricane Luis, Mount Liamuiga, Mount Misery, Caribs, island of Nevis

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Both Saint Kitts and Nevis were formed by volcanoes. Three groups of rugged volcanic peaks, divided by deep ravines, dominate the topography of Saint Kitts. In the center of the island, Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano, rises to a height of 1,156 m (3,793 ft). It is the country’s highest point. Liamuiga (“fertile land”) is the Carib Indian name for the peak, which was formerly called Mount Misery. In the southeast, a low-lying peninsula with rolling hills, salt ponds, and golden beaches stretches toward the island of Nevis.

Nevis lies across a narrow channel 3 km (2 mi) to the southeast of Saint Kitts. The Caribs called the island Oualie (“land of beautiful water”). Nevis is nearly circular in shape and surrounded by coral reefs and beaches of white coral sand. Its highest point, Nevis Peak (985 m/3,232 ft) at the center of the island, is usually shrouded in mist. Christopher Columbus named the island after the Spanish word for snow, nieve, in the mistaken belief that the mist atop the volcanic peak was snow. He named Saint Kitts after his patron saint, Christopher. Saint Kitts accounts for 176 sq km (68 sq mi) of the country’s total area, and Nevis for 93 sq km (36 sq mi).


Saint Kitts and Nevis has a tropical climate moderated by northeasterly trade winds. The average annual temperature is 27°C (80°F). Near sea level the annual rainfall is about 1,250 to 2,000 mm (50 to 80 in) a year, with a wetter season from July to November. Rainfall increases with altitude and on the windward slopes of the mountains. There is a risk of hurricanes from August to October. Although serious storms are relatively rare, Hurricane Luis caused extensive damage to sugar crops and buildings in 1995.

Environmental Concerns

Fishing is taking its toll on the coral reefs of Saint Kitts and Nevis. There has been some loss of forests and woodlands in the past two decades, leading to soil erosion. Some pollution of the coastline has occurred as a result of oil spills from nearby tanker lanes.

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