Antigua and Barbuda is an island nation located in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Antigua and Barbuda are part of the Lesser Antilles archipelago with the island of Guadeloupe to the south, Montserrat to the southwest, Saint Kitts and Nevis to the west and Saint Barthélemy to the northwest.
Main article: History of Antigua and Barbuda
Pre-ceramic Amerindians were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 BC, but Arawak and Carib Amerindian tribes populated the islands. The island of Antigua was originally named Wadadli by the natives. Christopher Columbus landed on his second voyage in 1493 and changed the name of the island to Antigua. Early settlements by the Spanish and French were succeeded by the English who formed a colony in 1667 by transporting Irish Catholic slaves to Antigua. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, was abolished in 1834. The islands became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1981, and Vere Bird became the first prime minister.
Main article: Politics of Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a Commonwealth Realm and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented in Antigua and Barbuda by a governor general. Executive power is in the hands of the prime minister, who is also the head of government. The prime minister is usually the leader of the winning party of the elections for the House of Representatives (17 members), held every five years. The other chamber of the parliament, the Senate, has 17 members which are appointed by the governor general. Its current prime minister is Baldwin Spencer (24 March 2004-).
Main article: Parishes and dependencies of Antigua and Barbuda
The island of Antigua is divided into six parishes:-
The island of Barbuda and the uninhabited island of Redonda each enjoy dependency status.
- Main article: Geography of Antigua and Barbuda
The country consists of a number of islands, of which Antigua is the largest one, and the most populated. Barbuda, just north of Antigua is the other main island. The islands have a warm, tropical climate, with fairly constant temperatures year round. The un-inhabited island of Redonda also belongs to the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
The islands are mostly low-lying, with the highest point being Boggy Peak , at 402m. The small country's main town is the capital Saint John's on Antigua; Barbuda's largest town is Codrington .
Main article: Economy of Antigua and Barbuda
Tourism dominates its economy, accounting for more than half of its GDP. Weak tourist arrival numbers since early 2000 have slowed the economy, however, and pressed the government into a tight fiscal corner. 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.
Main article: Demographics of Antigua and Barbuda
Most of the population are descendants of the slaves that used to work in the sugar plantations, but there are also groups of Europeans, notably Irish, British and Portuguese. While the official language is English, most of the locals speak patois, a form of broken english.
Almost all Antiguans are Christians, with the Anglican Church (about 50%) being the largest denomination.
Main article: Foreign relations of Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Caribbean Community, United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, Organization of American States, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, and the Eastern Caribbean's Regional Security System .