The islands of St Kitts - also known as St Christopher - and Nevis have been in an uneasy federation since independence from Britain in 1983 with some politicians in Nevis saying the federal government in St Kitts - home to a majority of the population - had ignored the needs of Nevisians.
But a referendum on secession held in Nevis in 1998 failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to break away.
Tourism offshore finance and service industries are important sources of income - more so since a centuries-old but loss-making sugar industry was wound down in 2005 with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
By 2003 Nevis was home to around 17000 offshore businesses operating under strict secrecy laws making the islands a target for drugs traffickers and money launderers. Laws have been introduced to crack down on the problem.
- Full name: Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis
- Population: 46000 (UN 2009)
- Capital: Basseterre
- Area: 269 sq km (104 sq miles)
- Major language: English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 68 years (men) 71 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 East Caribbean dollar = 100 cents
- Main exports: Foodstuffs electronics beverages tobacco
- GNI per capita: US $10960 (World Bank 2007)
- International dialling code: +869
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II represented by Governor-General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian
Prime minister: Denzil Douglas
Denzil Douglas was re-elected for a third consecutive term in October 2004. He said tourism development and social projects would be among his priorities.
Denzil Douglas is serving his third term
Mr Douglas has been credited with promoting tourism and combating crime but his government failed to rejuvenate the ailing sugar industry and deal with the state's large debt.
The prime minister has said any differences between Nevis and St Kitts should be tackled by constitutional reform rather than by a referendum on secession.
Born in 1953 he became leader of the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party in 1989. A Labour Party activist since his youth he led the party to victory in the 1995 elections.
The government operates national television and radio networks. There are several private radio stations.
The main political parties publish weekly or fortnightly newspapers and the opposition press is free to criticise the government.
Multichannel cable TV carries local and international TV stations.
- Sun St Kitts/Nevis - privately-owned daily
- The Democrat - opposition People's Action Movement weekly
- The Labour Spokesman - twice-weekly newspaper of St Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union
- The St Kitts and Nevis Observer - weekly
- ZIZ Television - commercial government-owned
- ZIZ Radio - commercial government-owned
- Big Wave 96.7 - commercial operated by ZIZ
- Winn FM - commercial private
Voice of Nevis (VON) - Nevis-based mediumwave (AM) station
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