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Saint Kitts and Nevis


Plymouth Brethren, Sephardic Jews, Moravians, Sephardim, Basseterre

The people of Saint Kitts and Nevis are primarily descendants of west Africans brought to the islands as slaves. The population is 95 percent black. Descendants of Europeans and east Asians constitute small minorities. About 80 percent of the population lives on Saint Kitts. The population is 68 percent rural, and most of the urban population lives in Basseterre (population, 2003 estimate, 13,000), the countryís capital and the chief port on Saint Kitts. Charlestown (population, 1991, 1,411) is the chief port on Nevis and the birthplace of 18th-century statesman Alexander Hamilton.

English is the official language of Saint Kitts and Nevis, but an English-based Creole is the first language of nearly all the people and is the language used most in everyday interactions.

About 80 percent of the people belong to Protestant denominations, mostly Anglican or Methodist. Other communities on Saint Kitts and Nevis include Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Moravians, and Plymouth Brethren. About 10 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Historically there was also an important Jewish community on Nevis; in the 17th and 18th centuries about one quarter of the islandís population were Sephardic Jews (Sephardim), who migrated there after being expelled from Brazil, bringing the latest sugar technology with them.

The islands have a long tradition of education, which is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 17. Adult literacy rates are among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, averaging above 97 percent (1995) for both islands. University-level education is provided by a branch of the University of the West Indies.

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