St. Kitts is recognized as one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Not only is this island aesthetically appealing, but its natural beauty also lends itself to numerous outdoor activities. Its lush forests and volcanic mountains make for excellent hiking terrain. While it's sandy beaches and clear waters are superb for relaxing and engaging in water activities.
The two islands of St. Kitts and Nevis were British possessions until 1983, when they became a tiny, independent two-island nation (a mini-state, really), complete with UN membership. But British traditions remain in evidence. Cricket is still fiercely popular, and motorists drive on the left.
For decades St. Kitts and Nevis slumbered as backwaters of the Caribbean. The country's economy was dependent entirely on sugarcane, making it especially vulnerable to the ravages of hurricanes (Hurricane Hugo, in 1990, caused particularly serious damage). But in recent years, tourists, especially celebrities, have discovered the islands' average year-round temperature of 79°F (26°C), low humidity, white-sand beaches, and unspoiled natural beauty.
This doesn't mean that St. Kitts and Nevis are playgrounds for the rich and famous -- not yet. But people who can go anywhere have been spotted here in the near past: the late Princess Di, Oprah Winfrey, Sylvester Stallone, Danny Glover, Robert DeNiro, Michael J. Fox, and Gerald and Betty Ford, to name a few.
Of the two islands, Nevis is the sleepier. It has fewer direct flights from North America, fewer luxury hotels, and almost no nightlife to speak of. It also has a reputation as being a money-laundering haven for drug traffickers and other suspicious businesses (despite righteous denials by Nevis officials). The tiny island has some 9,000 offshore businesses -- about one business per inhabitant -- registered and operating under strict secrecy laws.
In fact, disagreements about controls over offshore banking activities triggered a rift between the two islands that almost led to Nevis's secession. In the most recent referendum on the issue, in 1998, a majority of Nevisians (but not the two-thirds required) voted for independence from St. Kitts.
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