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   Friday, August 01, 2014 

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Antigua and Barbuda  

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Short Name: Antigua and Barbuda
Long Name: Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are two of the Leeward Islands located South East of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. The capital is St John. Total population is little over 76,000 with 1200 being inhabitants in the smaller island Barbuda.

Like every island, Antigua and Barbuda boast many beaches, 365, one for every day of the year. Grab a basket when you visit the glorious beaches of Barbuda to collect some of the many delicate pick shells.

The islands are a yatchmans' mecca. Sailing week is late April to early May annually. The regatta is considered #1 in the Caribbean and is among the top 10 in the world. Does steel band music, colorful costumes and parades appeal to you? Then you are invited to carnival which is the last week of July. Donkey races which are hilarious, is a part of the activities at the reactivated race track along with a fleet of thoroughbreds. Other sports include cricket, tennis, squash, football (soccer), netball and basketball. Scuba diving operations exists all around the island for beginners as well as advanced divers.

Antigua Barbuda history dates back to 2400BC. The earliest European contact was by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the new world in 1493. Colonization by the British took place in the early 17th century, after fierce battles with the original inhabitants the Carib Indians. In 1684 Sir Christopher Codrington arrived, and sugar cultivation exploded for the next 50 years. There were 150 cane processing windmills. At Betty Hope, the original estate, there is a fully restored windmill.

Most of the inhabitants are of African descent, and slavery was abolished in 1834 without the 4 year waiting period. The slaves were given full emancipation and carnival activities commemorate the earliest abolition of slavery.

An Indian settlement, Indian Creek offers an adventurous climb to the site of excavation by The Antiguan Archaeological Society and students of Yale University which produced artifacts that can be viewed by request to the society. Hear the legend of the beautiful Carib girl Zulmeira and her thwarted love for her British lover. Learn how vicious the battles were between the Indians and the British. To learn more of the history visit the Antigua and Barbuda museum, Clarence House at Shirley Heights, The Admiral's House at Nelson's Dockyard, one of Antigua's finest physical assets.

These islands became an associate of the Commonwealth in 1967 and gained independence in 1981 under the leadership of V. C. Bird. Tourism is the largest contributor of G.D.P (gross domestic product). Their currency is the EC$ which is the strongest of the Caribbean currencies, fixed at $2.70 to US$1.00.

Religion is Christianity which includes mostly Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodist, Lutherans, Moravians, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Seventh Day Adventists. Education is compulsory between age 5-16 years, and 90% of the population is literate. Antiguan Barbuda is a partner of the regional University of the West Indies.

Presently there is one hospital with a 220 bed capacity, the island is also served by several clinics and health care centers. Completion is expected by mid 1999 of the new EC$80m hospital complex.

Antigua and Barbuda flourished and prospered for 3 decades as a tourist center, but foreign debt, low growth in the early 1990s, and dependency on a single industry led to a recession. Making matters worse in 1995 was hurricane Luis which severely damaged tourism. Expenditure was therefore increased to finance recovery. A tougher economic program was introduced by the government, aimed at reducing debt, and those measures resulted in rapid recovery to the economy by mid 1996.

Offshore banking and financial services are well established. There are several foreign banks and insurance companies, a commercial and a development bank. A Free Trade Zone is being established to encourage foreign investment and there is talk underway for the establishment of a regional stock market for the Windward and Leeward Islands with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank.

The climate is heavenly, the sights are fabulous, the people are terrific. These are the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.


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