Antigua and Barbuda -- Geography --
Official Name: Antigua and Barbuda
Capital City: Saint John's
Official Currency: East Caribbean dollar
Land Area: 442 km2
Land Divisions: major islands — Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islets.
Antigua and Barbuda -- History --
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 by Island Caribs
The Arawaks 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 eucalyptus trees. They paddled to the island by canoe from Venezuela, ejected by the Caribs—another people indigenous to the area. Arawaks introduced agriculture to Antigua and Barbuda, raising, among other crops, the famous Antiguan "Black" pineapple. They also cultivated various other foods including corn, sweet potatoes, chiles, guava, tobacco and cotton.
The bulk of the Arawaks left Antigua about 1100 A.D. Those who remained were subsequently raided by the Caribs. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, 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.
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 Article.
According to A Brief History of the Caribbean , 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, with a French interlude in 1666. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, was abolished in 1834.
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 Barbuda and the Right Honourable Vere Cornwall Bird became the first prime minister.
Antigua and Barbuda -- Economy --
Tourism dominates the economy, accounting for more than half of the GDP. Antigua is famous for its many exclusive luxury resorts.
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 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.
Manufacturing comprises enclave-type 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 arrivals.
Antigua and Barbuda -- Culture --
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. 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 shopping.
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 Seventh-day Adventists who observe the Sabbath on Saturday.
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.
Calypso and soca music 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.
Antigua and Barbuda -- Life style --
A large majority of Antiguans are Christians (74%), with the Anglican denomination (about 44%)
being the largest denomination. Other Christian denominations present are Baptists and Presbyterians
Non-Christian religions practiced on the islands include Rastafari, Islam, Judaism, and Baha'
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 American University
of Antigua (AUA), founded in 2004, and The University of Health Sciences Antigua (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 (ABIIT). The University of the West Indies has a branch in Antigua for locals to
continue University studies.
Antigua and Barbuda -- Political system, law and government --
The politics of Antigua and Barbuda takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary representative
democratic monarchy, whereby the Head of State is the monarch, who appoints a Governor-General as 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 Minister, currently Baldwin
Spencer. 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.
Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is 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 to serve 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 Party won seven seats,
while the United Progressive Party 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
Antigua 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 Court (based in Saint Lucia; one judge of the Supreme
Court is a resident of the islands and presides over the Court of Summary Jurisdiction). Antigua is also a
member of the Caribbean Court of Justice. The 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. Some debate 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.