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Nevis (pronounced /ˈniːvɪs/) is an island in the Caribbean Sea, located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, about 220 miles (350 km) east-southeast of Puerto Rico and fifty miles (eighty km) west of Antigua. The 36-square-mile (93 km²) island is part of the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain of the West Indies. The capital of Nevis is Charlestown.

Nevis, along with Saint Kitts, forms the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. The two islands are separated by a shallow two-mile (3.22 km) channel, known as "The Narrows". Nevis is conical in shape, with a volcanic peak, Nevis Peak, at its centre. The island is fringed on its western and northern quadrants by sandy beaches that are composed of a mixture of white coral sand with brown and black sand, eroded and washed down from the volcanic rocks that make up the island. The gently-sloping coastal plain (0.6 miles/1 km wide) has natural fresh-water 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.[4] 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 citizens of Nevis are of primarily African descent. English is the official language, and the literacy rate, 98 percent, is one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.


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