Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Saint Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts is really St Christopher, named by Columbus for his patron saint rather than as personal self-aggrandisement.

Nevis is named for the mountain which occupies most of the centre of the island, and which does, if you get the angle right, and the sun is in a certain direction, and the clouds are being helpful, really does look a little bit like Mount Ben Nevis in Scotland; but not that much (actually I made that up; it's really an abbreviation of Nuestra Senora de la Nieves, Our Lady of the Snows, in Spanish, though no snow has ever been recorded on the island, and is never likely to be, given where it lies in the world – so my explanation is just as unreasonable).

The islands occupy that geographical region known as the Lesser Antilles, and are really part of the Leeward islands, though they like to think of themselves as separate, and would quite like to be separate from each other, and not just by the two miles of shallow waters that physically separate them. Britain gave them independence in 1983, with the administration based on St Kitts, which the Nevisians resent; proof that partition doesn't work, not just in big and complex places like Palestine and Pakistan, but even on two tiny islands like these.

Like most of the islands in the region, they spent centuries producing the richest and most valuable crop in the world – slaves; the islands were the headquarters for the trade in the Caribbean, with between six and seven thousand passing through the islands every year. Today those slaves' descendants are more or less the only inhabitants, the indigenous Arawaks and Caribs having been wiped out long ago, and the British and the indentured Irish on Nevis, and the French who took control of St Kitts for a while, having gone home. The last of the sugar plantations which the slaves worked was closed in 2005, leaving tourism, money laundering, off-shore tax havening and drug-transportation as the main sources of income.

The island of Anguilla was supposed to be part of this structure, which the British first set up in 1967, but the Anguillans didn't like the fact that it was centred in St Kitts, threw the St Kitts police force out, and seceded.

Marks For: This entire business of trying to give marks to countries for their contribution to human progress and development is becoming a bit pointless, don't you think?

Marks Against: Fewer than some, more than others.

You can find David Prashker at:

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment