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Nevis today, Nevis tomorrow

Blending offshore financial services and upmarket tourism, Nevis has always attracted the discerning businessman. Simon Neil dips his toe in the Caribbean water


Lying near the top of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, just west of Antigua and the eastern Caribbean, Nevis is a volcanic, sombrero-shaped island, a mere seven miles long and five miles wide. With a population of around 12,000 it is the smaller of the twin-island state of St Kitts and Nevis, with offshore finance and upmarket tourism being the most important sources of income.  

Nevis is well positioned as a mature, well-regulated, international financial centre offering a full range of financial services, and with a government that promotes an investor-friendly environment it draws considerable interest.

There’s no personal income tax, net worth tax, gift tax, sales tax, turnover tax or estate duty in Nevis. With the watchwords quality, efficiency, integrity and innovativeness it has carved a niche for itself in this competitive area.

English is the official language of the island, which boasts high standards of education, a 98 percent literacy rate, and a state-of-the-art telecommunications network. Within a strong professional infrastructure, there are over 50 registered service providers specialising in company formation and management, trusts, international insurance, fund administration, banking, wealth management and asset protection.  Nevis mandates that all international finance business be conducted in accordance with international best practices and has introduced legislation aimed at strengthening its regulatory framework. It has representation within all major regional and international bodies, such as the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the International Trade and Investment Organisation (ITIO), and has a tax treaty with the United Kingdom.

The British established a colony on Nevis in 1628, five years after they’d established their first Caribbean colony on neighbouring St Christopher (its name probably shortened by British sailors to the now familiar St Kitts). With the wealth of their sugar plantations, and their strategic position as a gateway to the Caribbean, for centuries the two islands occupied a critical position in the European struggle for dominance over the West Indies.  St Kitts and Nevis jointly attained independence within the British Commonwealth in 1983. Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State, represented by Governor-General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian. The political structure is based on British parliamentary democracy. While part of the Federal Parliament, Nevis has its own Nevis Island Administration headed by a Premier.  Elected Premier in 1992, the Hon.

Take one look round Nevis and is not hard to see why it is a favoured destination for eco-tourist. Spectacular natural vegetation, with cloud forest and brilliant tropical flowers, and the inviting azure-clear waters, attract today’s visitors. The unspoilt, green landscape is beautiful, serene and a sight to behold. The wildlife is colourful, with chattering green vervet monkeys, mongooses, dolphins and whales, and sea turtles. There are126 species of birds to set your sights on, from bold bananaquits descend on breakfast tables in search of sugar and hawks soar overhead.  Pinney’s Beach with its reef-protected waters is recognised as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Nearby, a palm-fringed lagoon is where Admiral Lord Nelson is said to have drawn his ships’ supplies of drinking water when he was Commander of the Leeward Islands Squadron.

In the 18th century, Nevis was known for its extravagant social life and grand estate houses, some of which are now among the Caribbean’s finest plantation inns. The capital, Charlestown, has an atmosphere redolent of traditional Caribbean life. It boasts some of the best examples of colonial era architecture in the region. Sailing is a popular activity, and local captains and boats are available for hire, by the day or week. The island’s Trent Jones golf course is internationally ranked. Informative guides lead hikers and mountain climbers on rainforest trails and snorkellers revel in the vibrant colours of the fish that inhabit underwater reefs. Nevis retains its natural beauty and tranquillity – tourism has been deliberately kept to the high end sector.

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