A chronology of key events:
1493 - Christopher Columbus lands on the islands and names St Kitts after his patron saint, Christopher.
Nevis Peak: Dormant volcano's peak is often shrouded in clouds
1623 - The British establish their first Caribbean colony on St Kitts.
1626 - The British massacre 2,000 indigenous Caribs.
1628 - The British establish a colony on Nevis.
1783 - France relinquishes claims on St Kitts in the Treaty of Versailles.
1871 - St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla united as a British dependency.
1932 - Centre-Left Labour Party founded to campaign for independence.
1967 - St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla become an internally self-governing member of the West Indies Associated States with Labour Party leader Robert Bradshaw as prime minister.
1970 - Nevis Reformation Party founded, campaigns for independence.
1971 - Anguilla placed under direct British rule following a rebellion against domination by St Kitts.
1980 - Anguilla granted a constitution and its union with St Kitts and Nevis formally revoked.
1983 - St Kitts and Nevis jointly attain independence within the British Commonwealth with Kennedy Simmonds as prime minister.
1993 - Anti-government demonstrations take place following an inconclusive general election.
1994 - A state of emergency is declared after anti-government riots by Labour Party supporters in the capital, Basseterre.
1995 - Prime Minister Kennedy Simmonds loses in a general election which he had called following a scandal involving allegations of drug smuggling; Labour Party leader Denzil Douglas becomes prime minister.
1997 - Nevis legislators authorise a referendum on the issue of whether the island should secede from St Kitts.
1998 July - St Kitts and Nevis carries out its first execution in 17 years despite international protests.
1998 August - Referendum on Nevis independence fails to achieve the two-thirds majority required for the island to secede.
1998 September - Hurricane George strikes.
2000 - Denzil Douglas begins a second term as prime minister after his Labour Party wins a majority of seats in a general election.
2003 March - Largest hotel complex in the eastern Caribbean opens on Frigate Bay, St Kitts.
2004 October - Denzil Douglas begins a third consecutive term as prime minister.
2005 March - Government decides to close the 300-year-old, loss-making sugar industry after the 2005 harvest.
2008 December - First execution in over a decade when Charles Elroy Laplace was hanged for murder. Government said it hoped this would serve as a deterrent against high levels of violent crime.
2010 January - Denzil Douglas wins a fourth consecutive term as premier.
2012 May - Paris Club of creditor governments agrees to restructure St Kitts and Nevis' public debt, cutting interest payments by 90%.