Antiguans and Barbudans - Orientation



Identification. The country Antigua and Barbuda includes two of the Leeward Islands located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Settled by English colonists in the seventeenth century, the islands have a history of slavery and British colonial rule. Antigua and Barbuda won independence in 1981. The national motto is "Each endeavouring, all achieving."

Location. Antigua measures 281 square kilometers in area, and Barbuda 161 square kilometers. A third island, uninhabited Redonda (3.25 square kilometers), is a dependency of the state. Volcanic and comprised of limestone, Antigua is generally flat, except for the southwestern section, which is the site of the highest point, Boggy Peak (403 meters). The coastline has many fine white sandy beaches, some protected by dense bush, and many natural harbors. Antigua's vegetation is evergreen and deciduous forest and evergreen woodland. Most of the country's government buildings are located in the capital, Saint John's, together with a central market, schools, banks, shops and restaurants, a deep-water harbor, and, since the late 1980s, a modern tourist complex.

Relatively isolated Barbuda lies some 50 kilometers to the northeast. It is a coral island covered with open scrub. Cattle, deer, guinea fowl, and hogs roam freely through the bush. Barbuda's unsafe harbors have contributed to its isolation over the centuries; regular air service from Antigua began only in 1961. Almost all of Barbuda's 1,200 residents live in historic Codrington Village. The island has a few shops, some resort hotels where people find seasonal work, an elementary school, a health clinic, and several churches.

Demography. Antigua and Barbuda's population, according to the 1991 census, was 60,840 persons (29,638 men and 31,202 women, a ratio of 105 females for every 100 males); of these, only 2 percent lived on Barbuda. The vast majority of Antiguans and Barbudans, 60,148 persons, live in private households. Most of the islanders are African Caribbean people, their ancestors having been brought as slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Other groups include a few remaining descendants of British colonists, the progeny of Portuguese indentured servants who came in the mid-nineteenth century under planter-inspired schemes to find field laborers, and the children of Syrian and Lebanese traders who arrived at the turn of the twentieth century. West Indians from other islands and a small group of expatriates from the United States, Canada, and England reside in Antigua as well.

Linguistic Affiliation. Antiguans and Barbudans speak English, although there is a creole dialect most commonly heard in the countryside. Most citizens are literate.


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