THE LAND OF SUN SEA AND SAND
HISTORY OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Antigua was visited in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, who named it for the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Sevilla, Spain. It was colonized by English settlers in 1632 and remained a British possession although it was raided by the French in 1666. The early colonizers were also attacked by Caribs, who were once one of the dominant peoples of the West Indies. At first tobacco was grown, but in the later 17th century sugar was found to be more profitable.
The nearby island of Barbuda was colonized in 1678. The crown granted the island to the Codrington family in 1685. It was planned as a slave-breeding colony but never became one; the slaves who were imported came to live self-reliant in their own community.
The emancipation in 1834 of slaves, who had been employed on the profitable sugar estates, gave rise to difficulties in obtaining labour. An earthquake in 1843 and a hurricane in 1847 caused further economic problems. Barbuda reverted back to the crown in the late 19th century, and its administration came to be so closely related to that of Antigua that it eventually became a dependency of that island.
ORIENTATION OF ANTIGUA
Identification. The culture of Antigua and Barbuda (local creole pronunciation, (Antiga and Barbueda) is a classic example of a creole culture. It emerged from the mixing of Amerindian (Carib and Arawak), West African, and European (primarily British) cultural traditions. Specific traces of these parent cultures as well as influences from other Caribbean islands (e.g., reggae from Jamaica) are still very evident in this emergent culture. Before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493, Antigua and Barbuda had the Carib names of Wadadli and Wa’omoni, respectively.
Location and Geography. Antigua and Barbuda are two islands in the Eastern Caribbean chain. Antigua, or Wadadli, has an area of 108 square miles, (280 square kilometres) while Barbuda, or Wa’omoni, is 62 square miles (160 square kilometres) in area, making for a twin island microstate of 170 square miles (440 square kilometres). This state includes the tiny (by Caribbean standards) island of Redonda, which has remained uninhabited. Antigua is an island of both volcanic origin and sedimentary rock (limestone) formation. Its jagged coastline is over 90 miles (145 kilometres) long, producing hundreds of beautiful white sandy beaches, bays, and coves. Barbuda is of limestone formation and very flat. The highest point on the island rises to only 128 feet (39 meters). The capital of this state is Saint John’s, which is located at the north-western end of Antigua.
Demography. The population census of 1991 estimated the population of Antigua and Barbuda to be 64,252. Approximately 93 percent of this total are Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans, 0.2 percent are Portuguese, 0.6 percent are Middle Eastern, 1.7 percent are whites from Europe and North America, and 3.4 percent are mixed. The 1997 estimate by the Department of Statistics placed the population at 69,890 and projected a figure of 72,310 for 2000. These increases are the result of significant inflows of migrants from Guyana, Dominica, and the Dominican Republic. Migrants from the latter have given rise to a small Spanish-speaking community on Antigua.
Linguistic Affiliation. Given the creole nature of its culture, it is not surprising that the language spoken by the vast majority of Antiguans and Barbudans is a creole, often referred to as Antiguan creole. This makes the culture a bilingual one. The other language is standard English, which is the official language and the language of instruction. This linguistic situation derives from the colonial history of the nation, which was one of 350 years of near continuous British rule. Consequently, Antiguan creole is essentially a hybrid product of West African languages and English. Although linguists have identified African words such as nyam (eat) in Antiguan creole, the vocabulary of this language consists largely of English words
Climate. The climate in Antigua and Barbuda is tropical, hot and humid all year round, with a relatively cool, dry season from January to mid-April and a hot, humid, and rainy season from mid-June to mid-November. In the cool and dry season, the northeast trade winds, constant winds typical of tropical climates, blow steadily and with moderate intensity, while in the hot and rainy season, these winds are more irregular, and may have some breaks, increasing the feeling of sultriness.