Nevis along with the island of St. Kitts, together form the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. These islands form part of the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain of the West Indies and are located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. In 1967, the island territory of Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla became an associated state of the UK with full internal autonomy. The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971. The remaining islands achieved independence in 1983 as Saint Kitts and Nevis. In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the required majority. Since then, Nevis has continued its efforts to separate from Saint Kitts.
Saint Kitts and Nevis are separated by a shallow two-mile channel known as “The Narrows”. Nevis’ land area is approximately 36 square miles and its capital is Charlestown. Conical in shape, Nevis has a volcanic peak at its center known as Nevis Peak.
Nevis experiences tropical climate with little variation; however, its heaviest rainfalls occur between the months of August and October. These months represent the peak of the hurricane season which greatly affects the island’s climate since Nevis lies within the track area of tropical storms and occasional hurricanes.
St Kitts and Nevis is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Association of Caribbean States, Caribbean Community, Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Organization of American States, United Nations and World Trade Organization.
There are no direct international flights to Nevis, and connections are usually made via Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Antigua, Sin Maarten or the US Virgin Islands. Smaller island to island airplane carriers are able to connect passengers from these larger islands to Nevis. Connections may also be made via ferry from St. Kitts.
The island’s sole airport is the Vance W. Amory International Airport renamed in 2002 from Newcastle Airport.
Internet, Mobile and Fixed Line Phone Services are accessible on the island. Visitors are also able to enjoy cable TV. So, whether on vacation or business, visitors are able to stay in touch via modern mediums.
The population of Saint Kitts and Nevis together is estimated to be 51,538, a small portion of that, about 13,000, represents the number of people on Nevis. The majority of the approximately 13,000 citizens of Nevis are of primarily African descent. Other minority ethnic groups include some British, Portuguese and Lebanese.
Nevisian culture has since the 17th century incorporated African, European and East Indian cultural elements, creating a distinct Afro-Caribbean culture.
English is the official language.
Government and Legal System
The Government system for both Saint Kitts and Nevis (the “Federation”) is one of parliamentary democracy with a Commonwealth realm and the Legal System is based on English Common Law. The governing system consists of the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch.
The Executive Branch of the Federation includes Queen Elizabeth II as the Chief of State, represented by the Governor General; the Federal Prime Minister, usually the leader of the majority party, as the Head of Government along with a Deputy Prime Minister; and a Cabinet appointed by the Governor General in consultation with the Prime Minister. The Federal Prime Minister and his Cabinet conduct the affairs of state and are responsible to the Parliament.
The Legislative Branch, consisting of the unicameral National Assembly, is comprised of a 3 member appointed Senate and an 11 member elected House of Representative. The members of the Senate are appointed by the Governor General on advice of the Prime Minister. The 11 members of the federal House of Representatives are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms. These 11 members are a combination of 8 Saint Kitts seats and 3 Nevis seats.
While still a part of the Federation, Nevis maintains its own unicameral legislature which is empowered to make laws that cannot be abrogated by the federal National Assembly. Nevis’ legislature consists of the Deputy Governor General as the Queen’s representative and members of the Nevis Island Assembly. Additionally, Nevis has its own Premier and government, the Nevis Island Administration, and it collects its own taxes and has a separate budget. Of importance to note is that the island of Nevis has a constitutionally protected right to secede from the federation; however, this move requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the island’s population.
The Judicial Branch of the Federation consists of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and the Magistrate’s Court. As a member of the 9-member Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Federation’s highest court is the ECSC, which replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal in 2003. The ECSC is headquartered on St. Lucia, is headed by the Chief Justice and is comprised of the Court of Appeal, having 3 justices, and the High Court, having 16 judges. Sittings of the Court of Appeal and High Court are rotated among the 9 member states. The Chief Justice is appointed by the Queen while the other justices and judges are appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. Subordinate courts include the Magistrates’ Courts. The Federation is also a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
International Financial Services Industry
The island of Nevis has over 21 years of experience as an international financial center. Nevis’ legislation governing its IFS industry offers complete tax exemption and no exchange controls. Products offered by the jurisdiction include International Business Companies (IBC), International Limited Liability Companies (LLC), International Trusts, International Foundations, Mutual Funds, International Insurance and International Banking.
The Nevis IBC was initially governed by the Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance No. 3 of 1984 which saw a total of 8 amendments, namely: Ordinance 1 of 1985, 6 of 1985, 2 of 1989, 5 of 1994, 3 of 1995, 1 of 1999, 3 of 2001 and 3 of 2009. The current Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance (Revised Edition) 2009 is a consolidation of Ordinance 3 of 1984 and all its amendments and shows the Revised Edition of the law as at 31st December, 2009. Since the Revised Edition, there has been one amendment, the Nevis Business Corporation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2001.
The Nevis International LLC is currently governed by the Nevis Limited Liability Company Ordinance (Revised Edition) 2009 which shows the law as at 31st December, 2009 and is a consolidation of the Nevis International Limited Liability Company Ordinance No. 1 of 1995 and its amendments. Since the Revised Edition, there has been only one amendment to the LLC Ordinance, the Nevis International Limited Liability Company (Amendment) Ordinance No. 5 of 2011.
The Nevis branch of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission is responsible for the supervision and regulation of the IFS industry in Nevis, except for financial services covered by the Banking Act. It is the ultimate regulatory body for anti-money laundering for Nevis. The Nevis branch, through the Corporate Registry, is also responsible for the registration of all international Companies, the formation of Trusts, Mutual Funds and Foundations and International Insurance Companies.