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Saint Kitts and Nevis
Geography, climate and population
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis comprises two relatively small islands, located about 100 km west of Antigua and Barbuda. The total area of the country is 260 km2, of which Saint Kitts accounts for 170 km2 and Nevis accounts for 90 km2. The twin island Federation is located between latitudes 17º10’N and 17º25’N and longitudes 62ºW and 63ºW, and is part of the Leeward Island group of the Eastern Caribbean.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is politically divided into 14 parishes. The capital is Basseterre.
In 2012, the total physical cultivated area was estimated at 5 100 ha, of which 98 percent (5 000 ha) consisted of temporary crops and 2 percent (100 ha) of permanent crops. Permanent meadows and pasture cover 900 ha, which brings to total agricultural area to 6 000 ha (Table 1).
Land above the 305 m above sea level is designated as the forest reserve where no development is permitted. The large southeastern peninsula is primarily covered with scrub vegetation, while the remaining low elevation landscape is made up of rock areas, salt ponds and beaches. Mid-level elevations are characterized by mixed uses, including grazing, farming of food and tree crop and abandoned sugarcane farms.
The physical landscape of Saint Kitts is characterized by three volcanic centres: (i) Northwest Range, dominated by Mount Liamuiga (1 156 m); (ii) Middle Range, consisting of a number of irregular related peaks dominated by Verchild’s Mountain (975 m); (iii) Southeast Range, which also consists of a number of irregular related peaks, Olivees Mountain being the highest (900 m).
Both islands have a tropical climate influenced mainly by the northeast trade winds of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. The average annual rainfall of the country is 1 427 mm. The average rainfall in Saint Kitts is 1 625 mm, varying from about 890-1 000 mm along the coast to about 2 500-3 800 mm in the central mountain ranges. Average rainfall in Nevis is a bit lower. Generally, rainfall is unevenly distributed between years and between months, but there is a reliable wet period from September to November and a dry period from January to April.
Seasonal and diurnal variations in temperature are small. Mean temperature in summer months is around 26-27ºC, dropping by only a few degrees to 24-25ºC in the cooler months of December to February.
In 2013, the total population was about 54 000 inhabitants, of which around 69 percent was rural (Table 1). About 78 percent of the population lives on the island of Saint Kitts and 22 percent on the island of Nevis. The majority lives near the coastline, as the interior tends to be extremely rugged and steep. About 40 percent of the population of Saint Kitts lives in or around the capital Basseterre, located on the coast. The population density is 208 inhabitants/km2. The average annual population growth rate in the 2003-2013 period has been estimated at 0.7 percent.
In 2012, 98 percent of the total population had access to improved water sources. In 2007, 87 percent of the total population had access to improved sanitation.