St. Kitts and Nevis - Poverty and wealth

St. Kitts and Nevis is not one of the poorer countries of the Eastern Caribbean. The Caribbean Development Bank estimated per capita GDP at US$7,086 in 1998, which is above the regional average. There are no statistics for the distribution of wealth, but there are distinct pockets of poverty, especially in rural areas and those communities still dependent on the sugar industry. Few

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
St. Kitts & Nevis N/A 2,569 3,123 4,479 6,716
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
St. Lucia N/A 2,076 2,150 3,542 3,907
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

of the benefits from economic growth and diversification are to be seen in the more remote north-coast areas of St. Kitts, where living conditions and social services are still rudimentary. Although free primary education is available and there is a network of rural medical clinics, costs attached to education and medical treatment are too high for poorer families. In many cases, regular remittances from family members working overseas are an essential economic lifeline.

In contrast, there is a conspicuously wealthy class based in Basseterre, in the Frigate Bay area. Some of this wealth is alleged to derive from drug-trafficking and other illegal activity, while other, legal, sources of prosperity are linked to real estate, tourism development, and the growth of financial services. There is a sizable and wealthy British expatriate community, especially in Nevis, while some older people are rich after a lifetime of working and saving abroad. But neither St. Kitts nor Nevis has the facilities to cater to the really rich, and those with large disposable incomes shop in Miami, Caracas or, less expensively, larger Caribbean islands. Education and health facilities are also found abroad.

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