Pronounced An-tee-ga, the largest of the English-speaking islands of 440 square kilometers. It is a twin-island country with 5 parishes on the mainland and 2 dependencies named Barbuda and Redonda offshore, plus several smaller islets.
The capital of Antigua is St. John’s, which bears the largest port on the Island. The total population is 81,800 people (2011). Antigua & Barbuda are nicknamed ‘land of 365 beaches’ due to their many beaches and is located where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea in the middle of the Leeward Islands.
These low-lying islands are composed of mostly limestone formations and volcanic rock, greatly indented with lagoons and natural safe harbors protected by an unbroken reef of coral and shoal.
First settled by Amerindians from South America including the Caribs, Antigua was then settled by the British in 1632 and Barbuda much later with Admiral Horatio Nelson establishing Great Britain’s naval facilities and commercial base. As in the other Islands, slaves were brought in from Africa to work with the Amerindians on the sugar plantations until the abolition of slavery in 1834, when they were granted full emancipation without the 4-year apprenticeship.
Many died due to the stress of enslavement, malnutrition and consequent diseases brought in by the Europeans and Africans. Antigua & Barbuda became an Independent State in Nov. 1981 and struggled with the decline of the sugar industry until the development of tourism.