The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis is a long name for the smallest country in the Americas both in size and population. Although it’s small in stature St Kitts and Nevis was forged by some mighty historical factors: Empire-building, the horrors of slavery, the burgeoning sugar cane industry, and the American War of Independence.
Both St Kitts and Nevis received their names by accident. Christopher Columbus gave the name “San Cristobal” to the island now known as Saba, 20 miles to the northwest of St Kitts. However, due to a mapping error, St Kitts was given the name “San Cristobal” instead. The 17th Century British colonists kept the English translation and because Kitt was a common substitute for the name Christopher, the island was often referred to as “Saint Kitts”, a name that eventually stuck.
Not to be outdone Nevis was given the name San Martin (Saint Martin) by Columbus but because of another mapping error another island was given this name. “Nevis” is derived from a Spanish name Nuestra Señora de las Nieves , which means Our Lady of the Snows, but it is neither known who chose this name for the island nor why.
Extract from Julian’s Journeys