Antigua and Barbuda are two of a group of the Leeward Islands situated in Eastern Caribbean, approximately seventeen degrees north of the equator. Antigua is the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands; it runs fourteen miles in length and eleven miles in width. Barbuda is a more flat coral island encompassing an area of only 68 sq. miles. Redonda is also a part of the tiny nation, but the island is uninhabited and is now declared a nature preserve.
Antigua’s historic and natural qualities make it a popular tourist destination. Additionally, the island is known for its mild climate, shopping bargains, rain forests and scenic villages. Some other activities visitors can participate in include boating, tennis, windsurfing, and bird watching to name a few. The temperatures on the island range in the mid-seventies during winter to mid-eighties in summer time. The average annual rainfall is only 45 inches making it the sunniest Caribbean Island. Barbuda is located approximately 25 miles to the north and is thinly populated. It is better known for the hunting and diving venues it offers visitors.
Most of the people of Antigua and Barbuda are of African descent, transported to the islands to work the sugarcane fields. However the habitation history of the islands extends half millennia even before Christ. The first inhabitants were Siboney, nomadic meso-Indians who moved on and were replaced more agricultural Arawaks. Eventually the Caribs, sea faring Indians from South America ran or killed the Arawaks off and took over the islands.
Christopher Columbus landed on the islands in 1493 during his second voyage and named it Santa Maira la Antgua. The islands remained untouched for more than a century largely due to the resistance of the native Caribs. In 1632 the first settlement was established turning it into a sugar producing area. By the middle of the 18th century there were over 150 cane processing windmills, each backed by a plantation of considerable size. Today more than one hundred of these stone towers serve the purposes of restaurants, bars, or shops for the enjoyment of tourists.
Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda enjoy the highest per capita income in the region. This combined with the nation’s tax-free status allows residents to enjoy a very high standard of living. Other than tourism, manufacturing and more recently the offshore financial services add to its economic activities.
Capital: St. John’s
Continent: North America
Government: Federal monarchy, parliamentary system
Total area: 170 sq. mi (440 sq. km)
Official Language: English
Currency: East Caribbean dollar
Dialling Code: +1