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St Kitts and Nevis


The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and are part of the Leeward Islands, located in the West Indies. The island of Saint Kitts covers an area of 168km2, while the smaller Nevis Island is situated 3km south-east of Saint Kitts, and covers 93km2. The islands have a combined estimated population of 49,984, a third of which live in urban areas.

Both islands are amongst the oldest colonized territories in the Caribbean, with Saint Kitts becoming the first British colony in 1624. Once an official overseas territory of the United Kingdom, the country rebelled and gained its Independence in 1983.

The islands are an independent commonwealth realm and divided into 14 parishes for administrative purposes: 5 on Nevis and 9 on Saint Kitts. The currency used is the East Caribbean dollar (XCD), however the U.S dollar (USD) is widely accepted on both islands, but only in note form.


Economic activity is broken down into three main sectors: tourism, agriculture and light manufacturing. The tourism industry is the largest of the three, contributing over two thirds of the total GDP figure of $735.1 million. Over 200,000 people visit the island every year, most arrive via the air, or on one of the many large cruise ships that dock at the Port of Saint Kitts. The islands are continually working on new programmes to help improve and enhance the tourism sector, and the economy as a whole. New programmes include the Kittitian Hill and Ocean’s Edge development .

Sugar cane used to be the primary export from the country, until market prices dropped and production costs increased, which forced the islands to diversify their agricultural products. Most land is used for the farming of cotton, peanuts, coconuts and vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and carrots. Food accounts for 10% of all exports, most of which go to the U.S and Canada.

Industry is also a prominent sector, generating a quarter of the GDP. There are four major industrial areas located on the island of Saint Kitts: Paul Southwell Industrial Park, Bourkes Industrial Estate, Canada Industrial Estate, and Prospect Industrial Estate. Most of these industrial areas have light assembly plants that manufacture footwear, clothing and electronic goods.


The islands have recently revolutionised their airport infrastructure, making it easily accessible from the rest of the world. There are two major airports: Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on Saint Kitts, and Vance W. Amory International Airport on Nevis. The largest of the two, Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, is located near to the capital city of Basseterre and has frequent, direct flights to America, Canada and the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The islands have a total road length of 383km, with the major hubs located in Basseterre in Saint Kitts and Charlestown in Nevis. Public transport consists of privately owned bus services that are licensed by the government. Taxi’s are also available and are adapted to transport passengers via both paved and unpaved roads. Saint Kitts has 58km of railway that circles the island, which was once used to transport sugar cane, but it is now used solely as a tourist attraction.

Both islands own a combined total of 159 merchant marine, which include cargo carriers, chemical and gas tankers, and passenger cruise ships. The Port of Saint Kitts deals with most of the countries cargo imports and exports, while a smaller cargo port is located on the south-western coast of Nevis. Passenger ferries operate frequent services to and from Charleston in Nevis to Basseterre, and a Sea Bridge ferry service departs from Cades bay, which is able to transport cars between both islands.

The islands have developed and strengthened their energy and water systems, and also have a modern telecommunications infrastructure.


Saint Kitts and Nevis have a total estimated labour force of 18,100. Emigration is high, with many inhabitants moving to the Unites States, Canada and the United Kingdom, which has caused a 25% decrease in the total population since 1960. The majority of the workforce are Kittitian or Nevisian, however a small percentage of Lebanese and Portuguese nationals now inhabit the island. The sole official language of English is spoken by most islanders.

For such a small island there are a number of high quality educational institutes, including seven public secondary schools and five private schools. There are 10 higher education institutes, including several specialist universities such as the St. Theresa’s Medical University, and the International University of Health Sciences. 9.3% of the GDP is used to strengthen and develop the education system, and education is both free and compulsory for all citizens for 12 years. Changes and advances in the system have helped to increase the national literacy rate, which now stands at 97.8%.

Business Costs

Saint Kitts and Nevis have effective and clear tax structures for both individuals and corporations. Corporate tax rates have been reduced by 5% to 35%, with another reduction due in the next couple of years. What makes the islands so attractive for corporations is a full tax exemption for 15 years on all profits for qualifying companies. There are a number of other generous tax incentives available to all types of businesses who fit specific requirements, including tax holidays, tax rebates, exemption from custom duties and investment protection.

There are no personal taxes levied on either islands, and there are no capital gains taxes. Individuals and companies are required to pay a 10% withholding tax for profits, service fees and royalties.

Minimum wage rates are in place to protect workers rights, but they are only applicable to store employees. Rates vary depending on the area and skill level of the employee, for example trainees in the electronic industry must earn a minimum of $3.37 per hour, while trained employees are entitled to $4.37 per hour.
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