2020 Stamp Programme
Nevis is a small island in the Caribbean Sea that forms part of the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain of the West Indies. Nevis and the neighboring island of Saint Kitts constitute one country: the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Nevis is located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, about 350 km east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 80 km west of Antigua. Its area is 93 square kilometres (36 sq mi) and the capital is Charlestown.
Saint Kitts and Nevis are separated by a shallow 3-kilometre (2 mi) channel known as “The Narrows”. Nevis is roughly conical in shape with a volcano known as Nevis Peak at its center. The island is fringed on its western and northern coastlines by sandy beaches which are composed of a mixture of white coral sand with brown and black sand which is eroded and washed down from the volcanic rocks that make up the island. The gently-sloping coastal plain (1 km / 0.62 mi wide) has natural freshwater springs as well as non-potable volcanic hot springs, especially along the western coast.
The island was named Oualie (“Land of Beautiful Waters”) by the Caribs and Dulcina (“Sweet Island”) by the early British settlers. The name Nevis is derived from the Spanish Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (which means Our Lady of the Snows); the name first appears on maps in the 16th century. Nevis is also known by the sobriquet “Queen of the Caribees”, which it earned in the 18th century when its sugar plantations created much wealth for the British.
Nevis is of particular historical significance to Americans because it was the birthplace and early childhood home of Alexander Hamilton. For the British, Nevis is the place where Horatio Nelson was stationed as a young sea captain, and is where he met and married a Nevisian, Frances Nisbet, the young widow of a plantation-owner.
The majority of the approximately 12,000 Nevisians are of primarily African descent, with notable British, Portuguese and Lebanese minority communities. English is the official language, and the literacy rate, 98 percent, is one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
Nevis began issuing stamps in 1861. The first stamps depicted the seal of the colony showing women at a medicinal spring. Issues from 1879 featured the portrait of Queen Victoria. Between 1890 and 1903 it used the stamps of Leeward Islands. Between 1903 and June 1980 it used the stamps of St. Kitts and Nevis (St. Christopher Nevis Anguilla from 1952), concurrently with the issues of the Leeward Islands until 1956.
Although Nevis is part of St. Kitts and Nevis, in June 1980 a separate postal administration was established on the island and it began producing its own sets of stamps, utilizing the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation as its current agent. As a result, many of its issues have little to no relevance with topics related to the island.