Antigua and Barbuda is an Americas twin-island nation located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is comprised of two inhabited main islands, Antigua and Barbuda, as well as a number of smaller islands (including Great Bird, Green, Guinea, Long, Maiden and York Islands and further south, the island of Redonda). The permanent population is about 81,800 (as of the 2011 Census), and Antigua’s capital, biggest port, and largest city is St. John’s.
Antigua and Barbuda, separated by a few nautical miles, are located in the Leeward Islands, a subgroup of the Lesser Antilles, about 17°N of the equator. Christopher Columbus named the nation Antigua in 1493 after finding the island in honor of the Virgin of La Antigua in Seville Cathedral. Due to the many beaches that surround the islands, the nation is called “Land of 365 Beaches.” Its government, language, and culture have all been heavily impacted by the British Empire, which the nation was a part of before.
Both Antigua and Barbuda are low-lying islands whose topography has been influenced more by limestone formations than by volcanic activity. Antigua’s highest point is Mount Obama (formerly Boggy Peak), the remnant of a volcanic crater that is up to 402 metres high.
The coastline of both islands is very indented, with beaches, lagoons and natural harbours. The islands are surrounded by reefs and shoals. There are few rivers, as rainfall is low. Neither island has sufficient amounts of fresh groundwater.
Antigua has a population of 85,632, made up mostly of people of West African, British and Madeiran origin. The ethnic distribution is 91% black, 4.4% mixed, 1.7% white and 2.9% other (mainly Indian and Asian). Most whites are of Irish or British origin. Christian Arabs from the Levant and a small number of Asians and Sephardic Jews make up the rest of the population.
An increasing percentage of the population lives abroad, mainly in the United Kingdom (Antigua-British), the United States and Canada. A minority of Antiguan residents are immigrants from other countries, including Dominica, Guyana and Jamaica, and increasingly from the Dominican Republic, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Nigeria. An estimated 4,500 US citizens also call Antigua and Barbuda home, making their numbers one of the largest US populations in the English-speaking Eastern Caribbean.
74% of Antiguans are Christians, with Anglicans (about 44%) being the largest denomination. Other Christian denominations present are Baptists, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics.
Non-Christian religions practised on the islands include the Rastafarian movement, Islam, Judaism and the Baha’i Faith.
Tourism dominates the economy and contributes more than half of the gross domestic product (GDP). Antigua is famous for its many luxury resorts. However, weak tourism activity since the beginning of 2000 has slowed down the economy and forced the government into a difficult fiscal situation.
Investment banking and financial services are also an important part of the economy. Major global banks with offices in Antigua include Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Scotiabank. Financial services firms with offices in Antigua include PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, owned by Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, with orchestrating a massive fraud that may have defrauded investors of about $8 billion.
Agricultural production in the two-island nation is concentrated in the domestic market and constrained by limited water supplies and a shortage of labour due to the attraction of higher wages in tourism and construction.
The manufacturing sector consists of enclave-like assemblies for export, with bedding, handicrafts and electronic components being the main products. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term continue to depend on income growth in developed countries, especially the US, which accounts for about one-third of all tourists.
After investor and lawyer Neil Simon opened the American University of Antigua College of Medicine in 2003, a new source of revenue was created. The university employs many Antiguans and the approximately 1000 students consume a large amount of goods and services.
Things To Know Before Traveling To Antigua and Barbuda
The languages spoken are English (official) and local dialects. There is also a growing population of Spanish-speaking migrants.
Siberians were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 BC, but Arawak and Carib Indians settled the islands when Christopher Columbus landed on his second voyage in 1493. The first Spanish and French settlements were followed by the English, who established a colony in 1667. Slavery, which was introduced to exploit Antigua’s sugar plantations, was abolished in 1834. The islands became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981.
The locals are very friendly and respectful. Approach them in a polite manner and they will definitely reciprocate. Approach them with a smile and think please, thank you, good day.
The culture is mainly a mixture of West African and British cultural influences.
Cricket is the national sport and Antigua has produced several famous cricketers, including Sir Vivian Richards, Anderson “Andy” Roberts and Richard “Richie” Richardson. Other popular sports include football, boat racing and surfing (Antigua Sailing Week attracts locals and visitors from all over the world).
American pop culture and fashion also have a strong influence. Most of the country’s media is made up of major American networks. Many Antiguans prefer to shop in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Family and religion play an important role in the lives of Antiguans. Most attend services on Sunday, although there are a growing number of Seventh-day Adventists who keep the Sabbath on Saturday.
Calypso and soca music, both of which originated mainly in Trinidad, are important in Antigua and Barbuda.
Corn and sweet potatoes play an important role in Antiguan cuisine. For example, a popular Antiguan dish, dukuna /ˈduː kuːˌnɑː/, is a sweet, steamed dumpling made from grated sweet potatoes, flour and spices. One of Antigua’s staple foods, fungi /ˈfuːn.dʒiː/, is a boiled dough made from maize flour and water.
There are two daily newspapers: the Daily Observer and the Caribbean Times. In addition to most American television networks, the local ABS TV 10 is available (it is the only station that broadcasts only local programmes). There are also several local and regional radio stations, such as V2C-AM 620, ZDK-AM 1100, VYBZ-FM 92.9, ZDK-FM 97.1, Observer Radio 91.1 FM, DNECA Radio 90.1 FM, Second Advent Radio 101.5 FM, Abundant Life Radio 103.9 FM, Crusader Radio 107.3 FM, Nice FM 104.3
The Antigua and Barbuda national cricket team represented the country at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, but otherwise Antiguan cricketers play in domestic matches for the Leeward Islands cricket team and at international level for the West Indies cricket team. The 2007 Cricket World Cup was played in the West Indies from 11 March to 28 April 2007.
Antigua has played eight matches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, which was completed on 11 February 2007 and has a capacity of up to 20,000 people. Antigua hosts the Stanford Twenty20 – Twenty20 Cricket, a version launched in 2006 by Allen Stanford as a regional cricket match in which almost all the islands of the Caribbean participate. Antiguan Viv Richards scored the fastest Test hundred and Brian Lara twice set the world Test record at the Recreation Ground in Antigua.
Club football, or soccer, is also a popular sport. Antigua has a national football team that participated in World Cup qualifying for the 1974 tournament and for 1986 and later. In 2011, a professional team was formed, Antigua Barracuda FC, which played in USL Pro, a lower professional league in the United States. In 2012, the national team achieved the feat of advancing from their preliminary group for the 2014 World Cup, including a victory against the mighty Haiti. In their first match in the upcoming CONCACAF group on 8 June 2012 in Tampa, Florida, Antigua and Barbuda, made up of 17 players from the Barracudas and 7 players from England’s lower professional leagues, scored a goal against the United States signed by Peter Byers; however, the team lost 3-1 to the United States.
Athletics is popular. Talented athletes are trained from a young age and Antigua and Barbuda has produced some pretty talented athletes. Janill Williams, a promising young athlete, hails from Gray’s Farm, Antigua. Sonia Williams and Heather Samuel have represented Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics. Other rising stars include Brendan Christian (100m, 200m), Daniel Bailey (100m, 200m) and James Grayman (high jump).