Amerindians colonized these islands thousands of years ago, and many archeological sites hold witness to their success. Artifacts can still be found in many places from what used to be known as Arawak and Carib settlements, now more accurately referred to as the Taino and Ciboney cultures. 

Columbus was the first European to see and name these islands, and St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Nevis were settled by the British in the 1600s. Before too long the islands became a very important part of the British colonial holdings in the Caribbean, because of the enormous financial importance of the international sugar trade. Sugar cane flourished exceedingly well in the fertile volcanic soil, and during its boom years, Nevis yielded far more sugar per acre than any other island in the West Indies.

Nevis: old sugar plantation buildings at Coconut Walk Estate, with Saddle Hill in the background.

St. Kitts and Nevis gained their independence in 1983. A number of years ago Nevis came close to seceding from the Federation, and this may still happen at some point in the future.