An island country in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies east-southeast of Puerto Rico comprising Saint Kitts and the smaller island of Nevis. The islands were visited by Columbus in 1493 and settled by the English and the French in the early 1600s, being officially awarded to Great Britain by the 1783 Treaty of Paris. They were part of the West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962 and in 1967 joined in a short-lived association with Anguilla. St. Kitts and Nevis became independent in 1983. Basseterre, on St. Kitts, is the capital.