17.33°N, 62.75° W
174.00 sq km
Eastern Caribbean (UTC-4)
34,983 (2011 est.)
Full Country Name
Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
The island of St. Kitts is located in the northern region of the Lesser Antilles. It is 174 square kilometres in size and has a population of 34,983. The main part of the island has a mountain range that runs northwest through the centre of the island. The higher mountain slopes are densely vegetated by rainforest. The foothills gently slope from the base of the mountain range to the coast and are largely covered by sugar cane. Mt. Liamuiga is the most northwesterly mountain and is the highest peak on the island at 1155 m (3792 ft). In contrast, the topography and vegetation of the Southern Peninsula is dramatically different. It consists of numerous low, rounded hills that reach a maximum height of 319 m (1047 ft), but are generally much lower and are separated by flat, low-lying areas and salt ponds. Vegetation is sparse with dryland grasses, low shrubs, cacti and yucca. The sharp contrast in both the topography and the vegetation from the north of the island is in part due to the older age of the rocks and the lower annual rainfall in the south. The capital of St. Kitts is Basseterre, located 12 km southeast of the summit of Mt. Liamuiga.
St. Kitts has a population of approximately 34,983 people with a large number living in the capital city, Basseterre. The population is predominantly of African descent with some British, Portuguese and Lebanese. People are referred to as Kittitian. English is the official language. Currency used: Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD).
In the event of an earthquake, volcanic eruption or tsunami the National Emergency Management Agency is the official authority in St. Kitts.
The National Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 186
The Leeward Islands area is the most seismically active zone in the Eastern Caribbean and has hosted the largest magnitude earthquakes to have occurred in the region since the 1600’s, when written accounts for the region began. The average number of background earthquakes, i.e. those that recur on a daily/weekly basis, does not change drastically. The output level sometimes increases in association with the occurrence of a significant magnitude earthquake. This can take the form of foreshocks and aftershocks or only aftershocks. Since 2011, activity in the area has been generally elevated over that seen in previous years. Elevated activity is sometimes precursory to more significant magnitude earthquakes.
Mt. Liamuiga is the only ‘live’ or likely to erupt again volcano in St. Kitts. It has had a number of explosive eruptions in the past, but the most recent major eruption occurred 1,600 years ago. It is possible that two small eruptions also occurred in 1692 and 1843. Continuous hot-spring activity and occasional bursts of shallow earthquakes directly beneath Mt. Liamuiga volcano mean that magma (molten rock) is moving beneath the volcano, indicating it is ‘live’ and likely to erupt again.
Future Volcanic Activity
The northern area of St. Kitts near to and around Mt. Liamuiga is the most likely location for future eruptions. The expected style of eruption is an effusive lava dome-forming eruption similar to the current Soufriere Hills eruption in Montserrat. Molten rock (magma) reaches the Earth’s surface and erupts passively or quietly as opposed to an explosive eruption which is more violent. Both types of eruptions can have associated volcanic hazards such as pyroclastic flows and surges, ash fall and lahars. Should there be an eruption, the National Emergency Management Agency is the first point of contact in St. Kitts and areas near the volcano are most likely to be evacuated. The UWI-SRC scientists provide advice as well as produce maps and other public information material so as to enable the public and authorities to better prepare for volcanic eruptions.