Culture

Although the population of St Kitts and Nevis is predominantly (90%) of African descent, culturally the islands draw upon a mix of European, African and West Indian traditions.

Rather than selling their soul and identity to mass tourism, both islands still exude unhurried Caribbean flair. Walk through a residential area on St Kitts on any given night and locals will be out in the streets, listening to reggae or calypso blaring out of homes and chatting with friends. On weekends, villagers on Nevis organize communal barbecues.

Kittitians are obsessed with cricket. Both international matches as well as those featuring the national Caribbean Premier League team, the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, are played at Warner Stadium in Basseterre.

Landscape & Wildlife

Both islands have grassy coastal areas, a consequence of deforestation for sugar production. Forests tend to be vestiges of the large rainforests that once covered much of the islands, or they are second-growth.

Away from developed areas, the climate allows a huge array of beautiful plants to thrive, especially on Nevis. Flowers such as plumeria, hibiscus and chains-of-love are common along roadsides and in garden landscaping.

Nevis is fairly circular and the entire island benefits from runoff from Mt Nevis. St Kitts’ shape resembles a tadpole. The main body is irrigated by water from the mountain ranges. However, this is of little value to the geographically isolated, arid southeast peninsula, which is covered with sparse, desert like cacti and yucca.

Aside from the vervet monkey, another ubiquitous creature is the mongoose, imported from Jamaica by plantation owners to rid their sugarcane fields of snakes. Both islands provide plenty of avian life for bird watchers.

Reefs around the two islands face the same threats as elsewhere in the region. On St Kitts, some of the best reefs ring the southeast peninsula.

Feature: Wild Vervet Monkeys

You'll see them on the beach, the trail and the golf course – packs of wild vervet monkeys brought from Africa to St Kitts and Nevis by French settlers in the 17th century. Since then, they have flourished so well that they outnumber humans two to one. They may look cute and are even used in promoting the islands to tourists, but to local farmers they're a nightmare because of their ravenous appetite for fruit and vegetable crops.

In order to get the problem under control, a nonprofit company called Arnova Sustainable Future has partnered with the Department of Agriculture to set up feeding stations on the upper slopes to curb the incentive to come down from the mountain to forage for food at lower-lying farms. Other planned measures include a spay and neuter program as well as taste, smell and hearing aversions.

Meanwhile, according to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, another way to decimate the Kittitian monkey population is by trapping and selling the animals to medical research and testing laboratories worldwide. Two such facilities on St Kitts also use local monkeys in their research.