Independent and Democratic
Explorer Christopher Columbus originally named St. Kitts as Saint Christopher in 1493. Many cultures – indigenous Amerindian, African, as well as French and British – have blended together over the years on this small island.
The Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis has been a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations for over thirty years, since gaining its independence in 1983. St. Kitts is the larger of the two islands in the Federation. St. Kitts & Nevis has a stable democracy built on the British parliamentary system and inherited a legal system based on English common law. Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch, remains the Head of State in St. Kitts & Nevis, and the ultimate Court of Appeal is the Privy Council in London. Elections are held every five years. The Prime Minister is the head of government.
St. Kitts & Nevis has a single National Assembly that makes laws, with 14 members headed by the Speaker of the House. Eleven of these members are directly-elected representatives - eight represent constituencies in St. Kitts and the remaining three represent Nevis seats. The remaining three members are senators appointed by the Governor General (two on the advice of the Prime Minister and the third on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition).
A Stable Currency
The national currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), the currency used by most of the English speaking Caribbean. It is pegged to the United States Dollar and has remained at the same exchange rate (EC$2.68 to US$1.00) since 1976. The Eastern Caribbean Central bank has its headquarters in St. Kitts. Most local businesses accept US currency but will give back change in EC$. ATM machines are installed in most banks on the island, dispensing funds in EC$. VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and larger stores.