Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign state in the Americas, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands. Its governance, language, and culture have all been strongly influenced by the British Empire, of which the country was formerly a part, gaining sovereignty on 1 November 1981.
The country’s name was given by Christopher Columbus in 1493 after discovering the island, in honour of the Virgin of La Antigua in the Seville Cathedral. The country is nicknamed “Land of 365 Beaches” due to the many beaches surrounding the islands.

Antigua was first settled by archaic age hunter-gatherer Amerindians called the Siboney or Ciboney. Carbon dating has established the earliest settlements started around 3100 BC. They were succeeded by the ceramic age pre-Columbian Arawak-speaking Saladoid people who migrated from the lower Orinoco River.
The indigenous West Indians made excellent seagoing vessels which they used to sail around on the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Most Arawaks left Antigua around 1100 AD; those who remained were later raided by the Caribs. The European invaders had difficulty differentiating between the various groups of the native peoples they encountered.
The Spaniards did not colonise Antigua because it lacked fresh water. The English settled on Antigua in 1632; Christopher Codrington settled on Barbuda in 1684. Slavery, established to run sugar plantations around 1684, was abolished in 1834. The British ruled from 1632 to 1981, with a brief French interlude in 1666.
Most of Barbuda was devastated in early September 2017 by Hurricane Irma, which brought winds with speeds reaching 295 km/h (185 mph). The storm damaged or destroyed 95% of the island’s buildings and infrastructure, leaving Barbuda “barely habitable” according to Prime Minister Gaston Brown.
Antigua and Barbuda both are generally low-lying islands whose terrain has been influenced more by limestone formations than volcanic activity. The limestone formations in the northeast are separated from the southwestern volcanic area by a central plain of clay formations. The shorelines of both islands are greatly indented with beaches, lagoons, and natural harbours. The islands are rimmed by reefs and shoals. There are few streams as rainfall is slight. Both islands lack adequate amounts of fresh groundwater.
The island has a tropical climate with daily temperatures averaging 24C in December and January and 29C in August and September. Annual rainfall varies from 125 cm in the south-western section of the island to 60 cm in eastern Antigua.

The climate and geological conditions of the islands have contributed to a diversity of habitats in which species thrive. In the coastal and marine environment, there is also a great diversity of species, typical of tropical islands. It is estimated that in the 1980s approximately 11% of Antigua and Barbuda was covered with wetlands, which included 36 mangroves and the extensive Codrington Lagoon in Barbuda. In 2001, the draft National Physical Development Plan estimated that mangrove 11 wetlands covered only 3% of the land area in Antigua and 22% in Barbuda. In the marine environment, there are also seagrass beds and coral reefs. Coral reefs are found around both islands of Antigua and Barbuda and the estimated coverage varies from a high of 25.4519 km2 to a low of 15.820 km2. Both systems are thought to be under severe stress. Recent estimates have placed deforestation at 95 to 99% of the original forest, with the exception of mangroves.
The main threats to biodiversity are thought to come from the following anthropocentric and natural forces: Unplanned Housing, Hotel And Industrial Development; Uncontrolled Livestock Grazing; Unsustainable Farming Practices; Poor Watershed Management; Fires; Pollution; Dredging; Sewage Disposal; Sand Mining; Boating Activities; Drought and hurricanes.

The Caribbean is the No. 1 destination for cruise itineraries, with 41.3 % of total capacity deployed there. Additionally, the Caribbean can be viewed as a highly complex tourism product in itself as it consists of a total of 34 country destinations which are spread over more than 1000 islands. The Caribbean is four times more dependent on tourism for its economic income than any other region of the world. The primary aim of encouraging ports to accommodate cruise ships is due to the amount of money that passengers and the crew will spend ashore.
Antigua and Barbuda join the rest of the world in commemorating 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism for development. The aims are to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to national development, mobilize stakeholders in making the sector a catalyst for positive change, and to foster change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour in tourism. All activities were organized with the intent of highlighting Tourism’s role in economic growth, social inclusiveness, resource efficiency, cultural values, and mutual understanding.

The national dish is fungie and pepper pot. Fungie is a dish similar to Italian Polenta, made mostly with cornmeal. Other local dishes include ducana, seasoned rice, saltfish and lobster (from Barbuda). There are also local confectionaries which include: sugar cake, fudge, raspberry and tamarind stew and peanut brittle. Although these foods are indigenous to Antigua and Barbuda and to some other Caribbean countries, the local diet has diversified and now include local dishes of Jamaica, such as jerk meats, or Trinidad, such as Roti, and other Caribbean countries. Shawarma, an Arab dish has become popular as well, sold out of Arab shops along with kebabs and gyros. Chinese restaurants have also begun to become more mainstream. The supermarkets sell a wide variety of food, from American to Italian. Meals may vary depending on household income levels.
According to various resources, expect slow service or being ignored if you do not greet people when entering a shop. If you have an enquiry, it is always better to start a conversation rather than rushing into the request. Topless tanning is generally frowned upon on public beaches, although some resorts may permit it. Don’t wear beach attire when walking around town. If you want to take a photograph of people, it is always better to ask for permission first.