Antigua and Barbuda
(Spanish for "Ancient" and
"Bearded") is an island nation located
on the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major islands Antigua ( ) and
Barbuda( ) and a number of smaller islets.
close neighbors within the middle of the Leeward Islands
, and are located roughly
17 degrees north
of the equator
Antigua has a population of 82,000, comprising chiefly a mixture of
people of West African
, and Portuguese
descent.The islands of Antigua
and Barbuda are part of the Lesser
. To the south of
Antigua and Barbuda lie the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint
Lucia, Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, and
Tobago. Montserrat lies to the southwest; Saint Kitts
and Nevis and Saint Eustatius are to the west, and Saint
Martin and Anguilla are to the northwest.
Antigua was first settled by pre-agricultural Amerindians
known as "Archaic People", commonly
referred to as Ciboney
, which means cave
dweller in Arawakan. The earliest settlements on the island date to
2900 BC. They were succeeded by ceramic-using agriculturalist
Saladoid people who migrated up the island chain from Venezuela.
They were later replaced by Arawakan speakers, and around 1500
[BC?] by Island Caribs.
were the first well-documented
group of Antiguans. The Arawaks called Antigua Wadadli, which means
land of oil, perhaps a reference to eucalyptus oil extracted from
trees. They paddled to the
island by canoe (piragua) from Venezuela, ejected by the Caribs—another people indigenous to
Arawaks introduced agriculture to Antigua and
Barbuda, raising, among other crops, the famous Antiguan "Black"
. They also cultivated various
other foods including corn
, sweet potatoes
(white with firmer flesh than
the bright orange "sweet potato" used in the United States),
The bulk of the Arawaks left Antigua about 1100 A.D. Those who
remained were subsequently raided by the Caribs. According to the
, the Carib's superior weapons and
seafaring prowess allowed them to defeat most Arawak nations in the
West Indies—enslaving some, and possibly cannibalizing others
(though this is unclear because many sources dispute the fact that
Indian societies cannibalised each other).
The Catholic Encyclopedia
does make it clear that the
European invaders had some difficulty identifying and
differentiating between the various native peoples they
encountered. As a result, the number and types of
ethnic/tribal/national groups in existence at the time may be much
more varied and numerous than the two mentioned in this
According to A Brief History of the Caribbean
Rogozinski, Penguin Putnam, Inc September 2000 ), European and
African diseases, malnutrition and slavery eventually destroyed the
vast majority of the Caribbean's native population. No researcher
has conclusively proven any of these causes as the real reason for
the destruction of West Indian natives. In fact, some historians
believe that the psychological stress of slavery may also have
played a part in the massive number of native deaths while in
servitude. Others believe that the reportedly abundant, but
starchy, low-protein diet may have contributed to severe
malnutrition of the "Indians" who were used to a diet fortified
with protein from sea-life.
The indigenous West Indians made excellent sea vessels that they
used to sail the Atlantic and Caribbean. As a result, Caribs and
Arawaks populated much of South American and the Caribbean Islands.
Relatives of the Antiguan Arawaks and Caribs still live in various
countries in South America, notably Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.
The smaller remaining native populations in the West Indies
maintain a pride in their heritage.
The island of Antigua was named Wadadli by these natives and is
today called "Land of Wadadli" by locals. Christopher Columbus landed on his
second trip in 1493 and named the island Santa Maria de la Antigua
after a church in Seville,
Spain. Early settlement by the Spanish was replaced
by English rule from 1632 (British rule from 1707 Acts of Union), with a French interlude in
, established to run the
plantations on Antigua, was abolished in
The islands became an independent state within the Commonwealth of
Nations on November 1, 1981, with Elizabeth II
as the first
Queen of Antigua and
and the Right Honourable Vere Cornwall Bird
became the first prime
The politics of Antigua and Barbuda takes place in a framework of a
federal parliamentary representative democratic monarchy
, whereby the Head
is the monarch
, who appoints a
vice-regal representative. Elizabeth II is the
present Queen of Antigua
and Barbuda, having served in that position since the country's
independence from the United Kingdom in 1981.
The Queen is represented by
Governor-General Louise Lake-Tack
who in 2007 became the first female to hold the position of
Governor-General in the country's history. A Council of Ministers
is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime
, currently Baldwin
. The Prime Minister is the head of the government
. Vere Cornwall Bird
, the nation's first
Prime Minister, is credited with having brought Antigua and Barbuda
and the Caribbean into a new era of independence.
is exercised by the
government. Legislative power
vested in both the government
and the two
chambers of the Parliament
. The bicameral
Parliament consists of the Senate
(seventeen-member body appointed by members of the government and
opposition party and approved by the governor general) and the
House of Representatives (seventeen seats; members are elected by
first past the post
five-year terms). Speaker of the House is author and former St.
John's University Professor (New York) D. Gisele Isaac, while
President of the Senate is educator Hazlyn Francis.
The last elections held were on 12 March 2009. At the last
elections, the Antigua Labour
won seven seats, while the United
won nine. The Barbuda People's Movement won
the seventeenth seat.
Since 1949, the party system had been dominated by the personalist
Antigua Labour Party. However, the
and Barbuda legislative election, 2004
, saw the defeat of the
longest-serving elected government in the Caribbean. The Prime
Minister, Lester Bryant Bird and deputy Robin Yearwood had been in
office since 1994, when he succeeded his father, Vere Bird. The
elder Bird had been Prime Minister from independence in 1981 and,
before independence, had been Chief Minister of Antigua from 1960,
except for the period 1971-76 when the Progressive Labour Movement
(PLM) defeated them in those elections.
The Judicial Branch is the Eastern Caribbean Supreme
(based in Saint Lucia; one judge of the Supreme Court is
a resident of the islands and presides over the Court of Summary
). Antigua is also a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice
Supreme Court of Appeal was
the British Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council up until 2001, when the nations of the Caribbean
Community voted to abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council
in favour of a Caribbean Court of Justice.
between member countries had repeatedly delayed the court's date of
inauguration. As of March, 2005, only Barbados was set to replace
appeals to the Privy Council with appeals the Caribbean Court of
Justice, which then had come into operation.
Parishes and dependencies
Map of Antigua and Barbuda
Parishes of Antigua
Antigua and Barbuda is divided into 6 parishes and 2 dependencies:
the country's armed force
. It has 250
members. Under the ABDF there is the Antigua and Barbuda Cadet Core
which holds 200 strong members between the ages of 12-18.
dominates the economy, accounting
for more than half of the GDP
. Antigua is famous for its many
exclusive luxury resorts. Weak tourist arrival numbers since early
2000 have slowed the economy, however, and pressed the government
into a tight fiscal corner.
Investment banking and financial services also comprise an
important part of the economy. Major world banks with offices in
Antigua include Bank of America (Bank of Antigua), Barclays, Royal
Bank of Canada (RBC), and Scotia Bank. Financial services
corporations with offices in Antigua include
PricewaterhouseCoopers. The US Securities and Exchange Commission
has accused the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank owned by
Texas billionaire Allen Stanford
orchestrating a huge fraud that may have bilked investors of some
The dual-island nation's agricultural
production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a
limited water supply
and a labour
shortage stemming from the lure of
higher wages in tourism and construction work.
assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts,
and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will
continue to depend on income growth in the industrialised world,
especially in the United
States, which accounts for about one-third of all tourist
The ethnic distribution consist of 91% Black or Mulatto, 4.4% Other
Mixed Race, 1.7% White, 2.9% Other. The majority of the white
population is ethnically Irish and British. There are also
Christian Levantine Arabs (primarily of Syrian, Lebanese and
Palestinian descent), Portuguese and a small population of Asians
and Sephardic Jews.
Behind the late twentieth century reviving and respecifying of the
place of Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans in the cultural life of the
society, is a history of race/ethnic relations that systematically
excluded them. Within the colonial framework established by the
British soon after their initial settlement of Antigua in 1623,
five distinct and carefully ranked race/ethnic groups emerged. At
the top of this hierarchy were the British, who justified their
hegemony with arguments of white supremacy and civilizing missions.
Among themselves, there were divisions between British Antiguans
and non-creolised Britons, with the latter coming out on top. In
short, this was a race/ethnic hierarchy that gave maximum
recognition to Anglicised persons and cultural practices.
Immediately below the British were the mulattos, a mixed race group
that resulted from unions between black Africans and white
Europeans. Mulattos were lighter in shade than the masses of black
Africans, and on that basis distinguished themselves from the
latter. They developed complex ideologies of shade to legitimate
their claims to higher status. These ideologies of shade paralleled
in many ways British ideologies of white supremacy.
Next in this hierarchy were the Portuguese—twenty-five hundred of
whom migrated as workers from Madeira (an Portuguese island off the
Moroccan coast) between 1847 and 1852 because of a severe famine.
Many established small businesses and joined the ranks of the
mulatto middle class. The British never really considered
Portuguese as whites and so they were not allowed into their ranks.
Among Portuguese Antiguans and Barbudans, status differences move
along a continuum of varying degrees of assimilation into the
Anglicised practices of the dominant group.
Below the Mulattos and Portuguese were the Middle Easterners, who
began migrating to Antigua and Barbuda around the turn of the
twentieth century. Starting as itinerant traders, they soon worked
their way into the middle strata of the society. Although Middle
Easterners came from a variety of areas in the Middle East, as a
group they are usually referred to as Syrians.
Fifth and finally were the Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans who were
located at the bottom of this hierarchy. Forced to "emigrate" as
slaves, Africans started arriving in Antigua and Barbuda in large
numbers during the 1670s. Very quickly they came to constitute the
majority of the population. As they entered this hierarchy,
Africans were profoundly racialised. They ceased being Yoruba
Akan and became Negroes or Blacks.
In the 20th century, the colonial hierarchy gradually began to be
subversed as a result of universal education and better economic
opportunity. This process gave rise to blacks reaching the highest
strata of society and government.
In the last decade, Spanish-speaking immigrants from the Dominican
Republic and Afro-Caribbean immigrants from Guyana and Dominica
have been added to this ethnic mosaic. They have entered at the
bottom of the hierarchy and it is still too early to predict what
their patterns of assimilation and social mobility will be.
increasingly large percent of the population live abroad, most
notably in the United
Kingdom (Antiguan Britons),
States and Canada.
minority of the Antiguan residents are immigrants from other
countries, particularly Dominica, Guyana and Jamaica with an increasing number of immigrants from the
Republic, St. Vincent and the
Grenadines and Nigeria.
There is also a significant population of
American citizens estimated at 4500 people which would make it one
of the largest American citizen populations in the English speaking
A large majority of Antiguans are Christians
(74%), with the Anglican denomination
(about 44%) being
the largest denomination. Other Christian denominations present are
Non-Christian religions practiced on the islands include Rastafari
, and Baha'i
The official language of Antigua and Barbuda is English, but many
of the locals speak Antiguan Creole
accent is slightly different
from the Antiguan
. Spanish is also widely
spoken in certain communities in Antigua where immigrants from the
Dominican Republic make up large numbers.
In the years before Antigua and Barbuda's independence, Standard
English was widely spoken in preference to Antiguan Creole, but
afterwards Antiguans began treating Antiguan Creole as a
respectable aspect of their culture. Generally, the upper and
middle classes shun Antiguan Creole. The educational system
dissuades use of Antiguan Creole and instruction is done in
Standard (British) English. The higher up one goes on the socio
economic ladder, the less prevalent Antiguan Creole becomes, to the
extent that some Antiguans will deny that they speak or understand
Many of the words used in the Antiguan
are derived from British
and also African
origins. This can be easily
seen in some phrases like: "Me nah go" meaning "I am not going".
Another example is: "Ent it?" meaning "Ain't it?" which is itself
dialect and means "Isn't it?". Common island proverbs
often can be traced to Africa.
The culture of Antigua and Barbuda is predominantly British, and
this is evident throughout many aspects of the society. For
example, the national sport is cricket, and Antigua has produced
several famous cricket players including Sir Vivian Richards,
Anderson "Andy" Roberts, and Richard "Richie" Richardson. Following
cricket, the next most popular sport is football. Boat racing and
surfing are also popular sports; Antigua Sailing week attracts
locals and visitors from all over the world.
American popular culture and fashion also have a heavy influence.
The majority of the media in the country are major United States
networks. Antiguans pay close attention to American fashion trends,
and major designer items are available at boutiques in St. John's
and elsewhere, although many Antiguans prefer to make a special
trip to St. Martin, North America, or San Juan, Puerto Rico, for
Family and religion play an important role in the lives of
Antiguans. Most Antiguans attend religious services on Sunday
, although there is a growing minority of
observe the Sabbath
There is a national Carnival celebration held during August each
year. Historically, Carnival commemorates the abolition of slavery
in the British West Indies
although on some islands, carnival celebrates the coming of Lent.
The annual Carnival includes pageants, shows, contests and festive
activities and is a notable tourist attraction.
are important in Antigua and Barbuda.
Corn and sweet potatoes play an important role in Antiguan cuisine
. For example, a popular
Antiguan dish, Dukuna (DOO-koo-NAH) is a sweet, steamed dumpling
made from grated sweet potatoes, flour and spices. In addition, one
of the Antiguan staple foods, fungi (FOON-ji), is a cooked paste
made of cornmeal and water.
There are two daily newspapers: Daily Observer
, and Antigua Sun
which also publishes newspapers on
other Caribbean islands. Most American television networks are
available in addition to the local face television ABS TV 10 which
is the only stations that show 100% local shows. There are several
local and regional radio stations.
Like many commonwealth
is the most popular
sport. The 2007 Cricket World
was hosted in the West Indies from 11 March to 28 April
2007. Antigua hosted eight matches at the Sir Vivian
Richards Stadium, which was completed on 11 February 2007 and can
hold up to 20 000 people at full capacity.
Antigua is also a
Host of Stanford Twenty20
, a version started
by Allen Stanford
in 2006 as a
regional cricket game with almost all Caribbean islands taking
part.Viv Richards is
from Antigua and scored the fastest Test Century and Brian Lara twice scored the World Test Record at
is also a
very popular sport. Antigua has a national football team although
it is inexperienced.
Athletics is also popular. Talented athletes are trained from a
young age and Antigua and Barbuda have produced a few fairly adept
athletes. Janill Williams
, a young
athlete with much promise comes from Gray's
, Antigua. Also, Sonia
and Heather Samuel
represented Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympic Games
. Others prominent rising stars
include Brendan Christian
200 m), Daniel Bailey
(100 m, 200 m)
and James Grayman
Antigua also boasts some excellent tennis players most notably
Brain Philip #1 and Roberto Esposito #2 on the island for under 18
tournaments, who both are also involved in under 18 ITF
tournaments. Also their coach's(Eli Armstrong) daughter Keishora
Armstrong who will be turning 13 later this year is the under 18's
champion on the girls circuit.
The people of Antigua & Barbuda have a high level of literacy
at well over 90%. In 1998, Antigua and Barbuda adopted a national
mandate to become the preeminent provider of medical services in
the Caribbean. As part of this mission, Antigua and Barbuda is
building the most technologically advanced hospital in the
Caribbean, the Mt.
St. John Medical Centre
The island of Antigua currently has two medical schools, the
University of Antigua
(AUA), founded in 2004, and The University of Health
(UHSA), founded in 1982.
There is also a government-owned state college in Antigua, as well
as the Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Information Technology
The University of the
has a branch in Antigua for locals to continue
and Barbuda is a member of the United
Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the
Americas, the Commonwealth
of Nations, Caribbean
Community, Organisation of Eastern
Caribbean States, Organization of American
States, World Trade
Organization and the Eastern Caribbean's Regional Security
Antigua and Barbuda is also a member of the International Criminal Court
(with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the
US-military as covered under Article
- Member of: