St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda are both English/English Creole speaking, and are right next to each other. Why are they not linked politically?

Similar question for, e.g. Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

I understand that the West Indies Federation failed, but why not more modest attempts at a federation?

  • What advantages would there be to not being fragmented? Put them all together, and you still have one pretty small country. Human nature being what it is, most of the separate parts are going to think they're getting less than their fair share from, or paying more to, the central government.
    – jamesqf
    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:33
  • @jamesqf there are many economies of scale in government. otherwise the world would be divided into much smaller countries
    – Colin
    Sep 7, 2017 at 14:56
  • I disagree. Unless you want/need to run a large military &c, most of the higher levels of government could readily be dispensed with, at quite a significant savings - and IMHO overall improvement in quality of life :-)
    – jamesqf
    Sep 7, 2017 at 17:23
  • There is a reason the words "island" and "insular" look so similar...
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 7, 2017 at 17:51
  • 1
    It feels strange that I'm the one to say it, but wouldn't this question be a better fit for Politics:SE? Sep 7, 2017 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


The Lesser Antilles are so fragmented because they were (collectively) colonized or captured by no less than eight different countries. Even today, some of them are colonies belonging to France, Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, and Venezuela.

There are only eight sovereign states among them. Of these, Domenica was formerly French and Trinidad-Tobago formerly Spanish. The rest are British. Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are in a different island group than the others. So the remaining question is why are the four other former British colonies separate?

The "modest" attempts at federation consisted of two islands pairing up around common sea- or air-ports. E.g. St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. That reduced 9 to 6.

The unpaired ones are Barbados, st. Lucia and Grenada. St. Lucia and Grenada was formerly French, and doesn't fit in particularly well with other colonies that were "English all the way," or with Domenica. Barbados has more than five times the combined population of St. Kitts and Nevis, more than twice the combined population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the other two smaller nations in each group perhaps feared that they would be "swamped" if Barbados was the "third."

So the "defragmentation" was limited to three pairings (four if you count Trindiad-Tobago). More probably could not have been achieved.

  • 1
    Interesting answer, but this doesn't seem to answer why St. Kitts and Nevis wouldn't joint with Antigua and Barbuda, or why Barbados wouldn't join with St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
    – Colin
    Sep 7, 2017 at 14:51

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