Every 19 September is Independence Day in Saint Kitts and Nevis. The holiday looks back to the day in 1983 when the islands gained self-rule from Britain, becoming the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere. Saint Kitts and Nevis did not cut off all the old ties, however, for they quickly joined the British Commonwealth.
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The day is celebrated with patriotic flare, flag-waving, and special events highlighting the identity of the island-nation’s people. It is a time for citizens to remember their history as well. The islands were discovered in 1523 by Christopher Columbus and were long fought over by rival European states. Britain finally gained the upper hand in 1713.
Britain combined Saint Kitts and Nevis and other West Indian colonies into the grand colony of “Leeward Islands” in 1833. In 1958, Saint Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla united and then joined the West Indies Federation. But that federation went out of existence only four years later. And in 1980, Anguilla disbanded its union with Saint Kitts and Nevis.
It was only in 1983, after all of this complex history, that the modern independence of Saint Kitts and Nevis was fully realised on 19 September.
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