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).