Shirley's Heights on the south coast

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a constitutional monarchy in the Caribbean, which includes the islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Redonda as well as some small islands. It is located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles and lies between the Caribbean and the Western Atlantic. The closest neighboring countries are Saint Kitts and Nevis, the British crown colony of Montserrat and the overseas French department of Guadeloupe. It is called “The land of the 365 beaches”. The capital and largest city is St. John’s on Antigua.

The name Antigua and Barbuda comes from Spanish : ‘antigua’, ‘old’, and ‘barbuda’: ‘bearded’. Antigua, actually Santa María de la Antigua, was named by Kristoffer Columbus after an old church in Seville, Spain; ‘barbuda’ of Spanish ‘bearded’.

People and society

87.3 percent of the population is black, mainly of African descent and descendants of slaves. 4.7 percent are of mixed origin, 2.7 percent are Hispanic Hispanics and 1.6 percent are white (The World Factbook 2015). About 98 percent of the population lives in Antigua; the rest resides in Barbuda. Redonda is uninhabited.

Life expectancy at birth is 78.53 years for women and 74.23 years for men (The World Factbook, 2015).

Protestants make up 68.3 percent and Roman Catholics 8.2 percent of the population. Other faiths are Protestant and Catholic minorities.

English is the official language.

Shirley's Heights on the south coast

State and politics

Antigua and Barbuda are a democratic and parliamentary unity state. The country is a monarchy with the British monarch as the formal head of state. She is represented by a native general governor. Parliament consists of the Senate with 17 members appointed by the Governor-General and the House of Representatives with 17 members elected directly for five years. In practice, Antigua and Barbuda have a two-party system.

The country is divided into six administrative parishes (parsonage) and two dependent areas (Barbuda, Redonda).

The country’s defense force, the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, consists of an infantry battalion, coastguard and a support unit. Antigua and Barbuda are members of the Regional Security System, a defense cooperation involving seven eastern Caribbean states.

Antigua and Barbuda are members of the UN and most of the UN’s special organizations, Commonwealth of Nations, Organization of American States (OAS), Eastern Caribbean Monetary Union, CARICOM and the Cotonou Agreement.


Antigua was first populated by American hunter and gatherer groups around 3100 BCE. These were followed by rural end Arawak from lower Orinoco. Most left Antigua around 1100 AD; Remnants were assaulted by caribou and killed or made slaves.

Antigua and Barbuda were discovered by Kristoffer Columbus in 1493, but Spaniards did not colonize the island. English settlers settled on the islands in the 17th century and ruled from 1632 to 1981, with the exception of French rule for a short time in 1666.

Slavery was abolished in 1834. From 1860 Antigua was ruled as a colony along with Barbuda. In 1958–1962, Antigua and Barbuda were part of the West Indies Federation. The islands became an independent state in 1981.

In 1975, three-quarters of the settlement was destroyed by a hurricane. In the 1990s, Antigua and Barbuda were hit hard by the international economic crisis. The country’s economy has improved somewhat, but foreign debt is still large.

In September 2017, the islands were hit by Hurricane Irma, causing major damage to Barbuda.

Economy and business

Since 1960, when sugar products were the most important export commodity, agriculture has had a greatly reduced significance and accounts for 2.3 per cent of GDP (2014). Among other things, cotton, sugar cane, fruit and vegetables are grown. There is some fishing.

The industry includes textiles, rooms, furniture and electronic components, accounting for 17.9 per cent of GDP (2014). It’s a little fishing industry.

The service industries account for 79.8 per cent of GDP (2014). Tourism is the country’s most important source of income and is also the most important for employment. St. John’s is a great port for cruise boats.

Antigua and Barbuda

Two US military bases in Antigua also generate significant revenue.

Knowledge and culture

It is compulsory school for the age group 5-12 years, and citizens are entitled to education until they are 16 years old. There is free tuition in public schools. There are two medical universities and a department of the University of the West Indies.

There are two daily newspapers; several newspapers are published once and twice a week. Antigua and Barbuda have both state broadcasts and broadcasts mediated by American television. The local channel ABS TV10 only broadcasts local programs. There are local and regional radio stations.

Two prominent female novelists are Jamaica Kincaid (1949–) and Marie-Elena John (1963–).

The music has a distinctly African character. Calypso, soca, steldrum and reggae are the most common music genres. The Antigua and Barbuda Music Festival (Romantic Rhytms) is an annual international music festival.

Cricket is the most popular sport.