Antigua and Barbuda
"Individual Effort, Collective Success"
Antigua and Barbuda is a country located in the Caribbean consisting of several islands including Antigua and Barbuda, the most important.
The two islands formed with the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Christopher, Nièves, Anguilla and Dominica the British isles-sous-le-vent whose capital was Saint John's (current capital of Antigua and Barbuda).
The Antigua and Barbuda archipelago at a glance
Constitutional monarchy, member of the Commonwealth
Capital: Saint John's
Administrative divisions: 6 parishes
Population: less than 100,000 inhabitants
Main languages: English and Creole
Current monarch: Elizabeth II of England
Current Governor General: Sir Rodney Williams
Current Prime Minister: Gaston Browne
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (1 East Caribbean Dollar = 100 cents)
Conversion into euro: 100 Eastern Caribbean dollars = 33.20 euro
Tourism: the season of tropical storms and cyclones, from June to October, is to be avoided. We must remain vigilant because of delinquency.
The idyllic beaches
The Caribbean Antigua and Barbuda consists of a dozen islands and islets whose capital is the port of Saint John's located on the island of Antigua.
Antigua is the largest and most populous of the islands with 72,000 inhabitants out of a total population of 92,000.
Barbuda has been rented for more than two centuries to the Codrington family, which in the 17th century created the first sugarcane plantation on the archipelago. The island has only one settlement, Codrington, on the Codrington Lagoon. It was on this island that the black slaves transited and were expedited from Africa before being sent to the different plantations.
Unlike the islands of Antigua and Barbuda which have a relatively flat relief, the small island of Redonda is volcanic. Very difficult to access due to the cliffs plunging into the ocean, Redonda has always been uninhabited. Nevertheless, the peasants of the neighboring islands exploited the guano that covered the rocks from 1860 to 1914. Today, only the birds disturb the tranquility of the island. The other islands of the archipelago are also uninhabited
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda attract travelers looking for paradise beaches bathed by a turquoise blue water of postcard. The interior of the very bushy land is not inhabited. Formerly, the islands were covered with forests that were cut down to leave room to the plantation of sugar cane. Today, the plantations have closed and the land has been left uncultivated.
The arrival of the Amerindians
The West Indies in the Caribbean Sea were occupied by Amerindians until the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century. They are divided into four main groups, the Calusas, the Tekestas, the Yucayos and the Ciboneys.
At present, it is difficult to know their origin but they could have crossed the ocean from Venezuela via the island of Trinidad which was probably connected to the mainland. The traces of the presence of a pre-ceramic civilization are attested in numerous sites, notably in Martinique, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Hispaniola.
The first inhabitants of the Greater Antilles, that is to say Cuba and Hispaniola probably arrived around the 5th or 4th millennium BC.
It is likely that the islands of Antigua and Barbuda were populated by the Ciboneys as early as the 3rd millennium BC and then by the Arawaks, a civilization of fishermen, farmers experts in the work of ceramics.
The New World of Christopher Columbus
In the 15th century, Christopher Columbus on his way to the East Indies discovered the New World and more precisely the Caribbean, marking a turning point in the lives of the local populations and the beginning of the colonization of the American continent by the Europeans.
The archipelago of Antigua and Barbuda is discovered during the second of the four voyages of the explorer mandated by the rulers of Spain, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. The islands are colonized by the Spaniards but will in turn be taken over by the French and the English.
It is under British rule that the island of Antigua develops thanks to a large sugarcane plantation founded in 1674 by the father of Sir Christopher Codrington who leases Barbuda Island to the British Crown for the price "of a pig per year ".
He brought African slaves to work on his rapidly expanding lands. On the death of his father, Christophe Codrington inherited his position as captain-general of the British Windward Islands in 1697. He tried to invade Guadeloupe but failed. He then retired from the political world and settled in Barbados.
An associated state
Despite the abolition of slavery, the freedmen present in the islands of Antigua and Barbuda have no choice but to remain with their former masters. They do not have the possibility to settle elsewhere because of lack of money and available land. Even free, they experience difficult living conditions.
In 1939, a trade union was created to help workers. Vere Bird saw the opportunity to engage in politics and became one of the founding members of the Antigua Trades and Labor Union, of which he became president. He defends the rights of black workers and is at the origin of a legendary strike that will enable him to found the Labor Party of Antigua and become the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
It was also thanks to him that Antigua obtained the status of Associated State in 1967. After a short absence of power from 1971 to 1976, the elections having been won by his rival George Walter, Vere Bird became Prime Minister until 1994.
He was weakened by health problems and passed the reins to his son Lester Bird.
Antigua and Barbuda is a constitutional monarchy of the Commonwealth. It is therefore the Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II, who is its sovereign.
The executive power is assured by the Prime Minister (currently Lester Bird) who cumulates his office with that of the head of government.
The legislative power is ensured by Parliament divided into House of Representatives and Senate.
The country is dependent on the Supreme Court of the Eastern Caribbean of Saint Lucia and the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Antigua and Barbuda has been an independent state since 1967 and is a member of the Caribbean Community and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
An economy based on tourism
The British settlers occupied the archipelago in 1632 and set up an economy based on agriculture, producing tobacco and cotton,
These crops were gradually replaced by sugarcane, and the economy of the archipelago was then based mainly on sugar production. Thus, large plantations have been created and black slaves who came straight from Africa provided cheap labor even after the abolition of slavery.
Today, plantations have been abandoned as a result of the decline of the sugar industry, agriculture is now only a very small part of the archipelago's resources and now targets only the internal market.
Indeed, more than half of the income is provided by tourism. The luxury hotel infrastructures have been built on the paradisiacal beaches of the two main islands and attract a wealthy clientele in search of destinations that have not yet been taken by holidaymakers. It is not uncommon to see anchorages in Antigua, who organizes an international regatta event every year. At the same time, the Antiguayans offer tourists many handicraft products.
As a real economic center of the archipelago, the port of St. John's has turned to the outside world, notably thanks to the electronics industry.
Antigua and Barbuda also offers merchant vessels a flag of convenience for payment. These boats sail under a flag that does not correspond to their nationality. This practice allows companies to evade taxation in their country of origin, enjoy great financial benefits, and a great deal of laxity in terms of safety or labor law. The control visits are also facilitated, which poses a great danger. Some unscrupulous ship-owners take advantage of this to avoid repairing their ships, putting the crews and the environment at risk. It is estimated that at present more than 70% of merchant vessels are flags of convenience.
The slave ancestors
Most of the 92,000 inhabitants of Antigua and Barbuda are direct descendants of black slaves formerly working on plantations, although Europeans, mainly British and Portuguese, still reside on the islands.
The inhabitants of the archipelago generally speak Creole but English has remained the official language of the State. The main religion is Christianity, mainly Anglicanism.
As a witness to the British occupation, the cricket is the national sport which can be practiced in all seasons and on any terrains.
As in all the countries inhabited by the descendants of African slaves, the music occupies an important place in life, especially during the carnival organized on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.
The cuisine of the archipelago is basic, mainly based on fish, rice and tropical fruits. Traditional dishes such as conch acras, stuffed crabs, meat stew and desalted cod mix with prepared meals imported directly from the United States.
And to accompany the menu, some fresh juices, beer without forgetting the unavoidable rum.
The Antigua and Barbuda archipelago is relatively safe, but one must remain vigilant for acts of petty delinquency. Avoid walking alone in isolated streets and never venture alone at night.
At the health level, the yellow fever vaccination is required from the tourists who have stayed in a country where cases of yellow fever have been recorded. It is also recommended to be vaccinated against diphtheria-tetanus-poliomyelitis, typhoid fever and viral hepatitis A and B. It is also necessary to protect against insect bites responsible for dengue and chikungunya.
The tourists appreciate the splendid beaches of white sand, the swimming in the waters of a beautiful turquoise blue and the traces of the colonization of the archipelago.