The former British colony of St Kitts and Nevis is inhabited mostly by the descendants of West African slaves.
Its beaches, scenery and a warm, sunny climate are a great tourist attraction. It is also vulnerable to hurricanes.
The islands of St Kitts – also known as St Christopher – and Nevis have been in an uneasy federation since independence from Britain in 1983, with some politicians in Nevis saying the federal government in St Kitts – home to a majority of the population – had ignored the needs of Nevisians.
But a referendum on secession held in Nevis in 1998 failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to break away.
Tourism, offshore finance and service industries are important sources of income – more so since a centuries-old but loss-making sugar industry was wound down in 2005 with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
- Capital: Basseterre
- Area: 269 sq km (104 sq miles)
- Population: 52,000
- Major language: English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 68 years (men), 71 years (women)
- Currency: East Caribbean dollar