Antigua and Barbuda: Culture & History
Antigua is an island in the Leeward or Lesser Antilles called National Park which encompasses a great deal of their cultural heritage and
natural resources. This park has within it, museums, nightlife, shopping, beaches, dining and sporting activities. There is environmental preservations and conservation within the National Park. The eco-system is fragile and at the same time excitedly beautiful. The soil is of a coral formation and there are many sea animals including turtles and many different species of fishes. Many different birds such as the egrets, herons, pelicans and Man 'O War birds can be found in the mangroves. Sugar cane, which was introduced by the British, is still one of the major crops.
The majority of Antiguans are of African lineage. Thus they are descendents of slaves that were brought to the island to cut sugar cane. Antigua was first inhabited by Meso-Indians called Siboney whose presence are still seen in the form of stone tools and well-crafted shells found at many different places on the island. The Carib Indians massacred the Arawaks, a peace-loving and agricultural people. The Carib Indians were the master of the sea, very skillful canoe drivers and most of all; they were very fierce and aggressive.
Columbus sighted Antigua during his second voyage and named it after Santa Maria la Antigua, the miracle-working saint of Seville. Antigua has a dry arid condition and suffers a great deal from plenty of fresh water. In Antigua, the Carib Indians were very fiery and consequently Europeans avoided trying to capture the island. The British eventually established a successful settlement in 1632. Fifty-two years later Sir Christopher Codrington arrived and the island joined the sugar arena. Large sugar crops and Antigua's strategic geographic location, which offered it control over the major sailing routes to and from the region's rich island colonies, made it an important beachhead. Horatio Nelson came to Antigua in 1784 and set up Nelson's Dockyard there. The motive given was to enforce stringent commercial shipping laws.
The British abolished slavery in 1834 in its empire. Antigua instituted immediate full emancipation rather than a four-year waiting period. Antigua's carnival festivities commemorate the earliest abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean.
Emancipation improved the island's economy but the sugar industry was beginning to subside, and it was only after the development of tourism in the past few decades that Antigua has had some measure of prosperity. Antigua was granted its full independence status in 1981, along with Barbuda and the tiny island of Redonda as dependencies.