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Antigua and Barbuda



CAPITAL: St. John's

FLAG: Centered on a red background is a downward-pointing triangle divided horizontally into three bands of black, light blue, and white, the black stripe bearing a symbol of the rising sun in yellow.

ANTHEM: Begins "Fair Antigua and Barbuda, I salute thee."

MONETARY UNIT: The East Caribbean dollar (ec$) is a paper currency of 100 cents, pegged to the US dollar. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 cents and 1 dollar, and notes of 5, 10, 20, and 100 dollars. ec$1 = us$0.37037 (or us$1 = ec$2.7; as of 2004).

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: Imperial measures are used, but the metric system is being introduced.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1st Monday in May; CARICOM Day, 3 July; State Day, 1 November; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Whitmonday.

TIME: 8 am = noon GMT.


The state of Antigua and Barbuda, part of the Leeward Islands chain in the eastern Caribbean, is approximately 420 km (261 mi) se of the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and 180 km (110 mi) n of the French overseas department of Guadeloupe. The total land area of 440 sq km (170 sq mi) includes Antigua (280 sq km/108 sq mi); Barbuda (161 sq km/62 sq mi); and uninhabited Redonda (1.3 sq km/5 sq mi), located 40 km (25 mi) to the sw. This total area comprises slightly less than 2.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. The total coastline is 153 km (95 mi). Antigua and Barbuda's capital city, St. John's, is located on the northwestern edge of the island of Antigua.


Partly volcanic and partly coral in origin, Antigua has deeply indented shores lined by reefs and shoals; there are many natural harbors and beaches. Boggy Peak (402 m/1,319 ft), in southwestern Antigua, is the nation's highest point. Antigua's northeastern coastline is dotted by numerous tiny islets; the central area is a fertile plain. Barbuda, a coral island with a large harbor on the west side, rises to only 44 m (144 ft) at its highest point. Redonda is a low-lying rocky islet.


Temperatures average 24°c (75°f) in January and 29°c (84°f) in July, with cooling tradewinds from the east and northeast. Rainfall averages 117 cm (46 in) per year; September through November is the wettest period. The islands have been subject to periodic droughts and to autumn hurricanes.


Most of the vegetation is scrub, but there is luxuriant tropical growth where fresh water is available. Many varieties of fruits, flowers, and vegetables are grown. Palmetto and seaside mangrove are indigenous, and about 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of red cedar, white cedar, mahogany, whitewood, and acacia forests have been planted. Barbuda is heavily wooded, with an abundance of deer, wild pigs, guinea fowl, pigeons, and wild ducks. Pineapple plantations can be found throughout Antigua.


Water management is the principal environmental concern. A water shortage due to limited freshwater resources is exacerbated by limited rainfall and drought. The existing water supply is threatened by pollution from distilleries, food processing facilities, and other industrial operations. Deforestation resulting from the nation's energy demands, combined with agricultural development, contributes to soil erosion, as rainfall, which is concentrated in a short season, quickly runs off, compounding the water shortage problem on the islands. The nation's main city, St. John's, has developed a problem with waste disposal. Untreated sewage from resort hotels travels in open sewage lines across the land and empties into the sea. Construction of a desalination plant in 1970 relieved some of the water shortage.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda supports a Historical, Conservation, and Environmental Commission. There are four main protected areas, including the offshore islands of North Sound and Codrington Lagoon of Barbuda, the latter of which is a Ramsar wetland site. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 2 species of birds, 5 types of reptiles, 11 species of fish, and 4 species of plants. Endangered species in the nation included the Antiguan ground lizard, the West Indian whistling duck, and the Antiguan racer.


The population of Antigua and Barbuda in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 80,000, which placed it at number 182 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 8% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 26% of the population under 15 years of age. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 1.4%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 87,000. The population density was 182 per sq km (471 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 37% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.54%. The capital city, St. John's (Antigua), had a population of 28,000 in that year. The majority of the populace resides on the island of Antigua.


The United Kingdom has been the historic destination of Antiguan emigrants, but in recent years St. Martin, Barbados, the US Virgin Islands, and the US mainland have been the principal recipients of the outflow. The primary motive for emigration is the search for work. The net migration rate in 2005 was -6.11 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views both the immigration and emigration levels as too high.


Antiguans are almost entirely of African descent. There are small numbers of persons of British, Portuguese, Lebanese, and Syrian ancestry.


English is the official and commercial language. An English patois is in common use.


The dominant religion is Christianity. Over 70% of the population belongs to churches represented in the Antigua Christian Council, which include the Anglicans, Methodists, Moravians, Roman Catholics, and the Salvation Army. The Anglican Church is the dominant denomination, representing about 35% of the population. Methodists account for about 15%. The Moravians also make up about 15% of the population and Roman Catholics make up about 6% of the population. There are about 400 Jehovah's Witnesses. Communities of non-Christians are fairly small. Rastafarianism has an estimated 1,0001,500 adherents. The Baha'i faith has about 50 members. As estimate on the number of Muslims practicing in the country was unavailable. St. John's, as capital, serves as the episcopal seat of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected in practice. Christian holidays are celebrated as public holidays. The Antigua Christian Council actively promotes tolerance and mutual understanding among religious denominations. The Council has also served as an advocate for peace, particularly during political elections. In early 2004, the council presented a "Code of Ethics" that denounced any use of violence and verbal abuses during March elections; all of the candidates signed the code. The United Evangelical Association unites most of the nation's independent evangelical churches.


In 2002, there were 1,165 km (724 mi) of highways, of which 384 km (239 mi) were paved. In 1995, there were 302 motor vehicles per 1,000 population. The railway consists of 77 km (48 mi) of narrow-gauge track, used mainly to haul sugar cane. The islands have no natural deepwater harbors; a deepwater facility was constructed at St. John's in 1968. The merchant fleet in 2005 consisted of 980 ships (1,000 GRT or over), totaling 5,873,626 GRT. In 2005, there were three airports, two of which had paved runways. Vere Cornwall Bird International Airport, 7 km (4 mi) northeast of St. John's, accommodates the largest jet aircraft; Coolidge Airport, also on Antigua, handles freight. There is also a landing strip at Codrington. Domestic and international scheduled flights carried 1,369,100 passengers in 2001.


The first inhabitants of Antigua and Barbuda were the Siboney, whose settlements date to 2400 bc. Arawak and Carib Indians inhabited the islands at the time of Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1493. Columbus named Antigua after the church of Santa Maria de la Antigua, in Sevilla (Seville), Spain. Early settlements were founded in 1520 by the Spanish, in 1629 by the French, and in 1632 by the British. Antigua formally became a British colony in 1667 under the Treaty of Breda.

In 1674, Sir Christopher Codrington established the first large sugar estate in Antigua. He leased Barbuda to raise slaves and supplies for this enterprise. In 1834 slavery was abolished, but this was a mere technicality, since no support was provided for the new freemen. In 1860, Antigua formally annexed Barbuda. The Federation of the Leeward Islands served as the governing body of the islands from 1871 to 1956, and from 1958 to 1962, they belonged to the Federation of the West Indies.

Antigua became an associated state with full internal self-government as of 27 February 1967. Opposition to complete independence came from the residents of Barbuda, who sought constitutional guarantees for autonomy in land, finances, and local conciliar powers. With these issues still not fully resolved, Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations on 1 November 1981, with Vere Cornwall Bird as prime minister. (Considered a national hero for his role in leading the nation to independence, when Bird died in 1999, thousands turned out to observe a national moment of silence in his honor.). Bird and the Antigua Labor Party (ALP) won renewed mandates in every subsequent election to that of 1976 under his leadership until 1994 and also under the leadership of his son, Lester Bird, up until March 2004, when the ALP lost power in national elections.

Antigua is an active participant in Caribbean affairs. In May 1987, the prime ministers of the members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) agreed on a merger proposal, creating a single nation out of their seven island states. A national referendum in each of the states was planned for ratification of the accord, but the referendums were defeated and the seven nations remained separate.

In its fifth general election as an independent nation, on 23 March 2004, Antigua and Barbuda experienced a peaceful change of government. The United Progressive Party (UPP), led by Winston Baldwin Spencer, won 13 of the 17 elected seats. The opposition, led by Robin Yearwood, retained four seats. Winston Baldwin Spencer was named prime minister in 2004. The next election was scheduled for 2009.


Universal adult suffrage on the islands dates from 1951, and ministerial government from 1956. The bicameral legislature gained its present form in 1967, and the United Kingdom granted formal independence to Antigua and Barbuda in November 1981. Under the constitution, the chief of state is the reigning British monarch. A local governor-general, appointed on the advice of the prime minister, is the chief of state's representative in Antigua and Barbuda. Since 10 June 1993, Governor-General Sir James B. Carlisle has represented Queen Elizabeth II. The bicameral legislature consists of a 17-member House of Representatives, elected from single-member constituencies for up to five years by universal adult suffrage at age 18; and a 17-member Senate, appointed by the governor-general, of whom 11 (including at least one inhabitant of Barbuda) are named on the advice of the prime minister, 4 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, 1 at the governor-general's discretion, and 1 on the advice of the Barbuda council. The governor-general appoints the prime minister, who must have the support of a majority of the House, and the cabinet.

The prime minister as of 2004 was Winston Baldwin Spencer, with the next elections scheduled for 2009. The prime minister, in addition to his role as prime minister, holds a number of other governmental posts, including minister of defense; minister of external affairs; minister of legislature, privatization, printing, and electoral affairs; minister of telecommunications and gambling; minister of public works, sewage, and energy; and minister of urban development and renewal.


The United Progressive Party (UPP) took over power in 2004 formerly held by the Antigua Labor Party (ALP) since 1946, except for a period from 1971 to 1976, when the Progressive Labor Movement (PLM), led at the time by George H. Walter, held a parliamentary majority. As of 2004 the UPP, a coalition of the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM), the Progressive Labor Movement (PLM), and the United National Democratic Party (UNDP), was lead by Winston Baldwin Spencer. Other active political parties in 2004 included the Antigua Labor Party, led by former Prime Minister Lester Bryant, and the Barbuda's People's Movement.


The island of Antigua has six parishes and two dependencies, Barbuda and Redonda. Twenty-nine community councils, each with nine members, five elected and four appointed, conduct local government affairs.


English common law and local statutory law form the basis for the legal system, which the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, based in St. Lucia, administers; it also provides a High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeals may be made to the Queen's Privy Council in the United Kingdom. A court of summary jurisdiction on Antigua, which sits without a jury, deals with civil cases involving sums of up to ec$1500; three magistrates' courts deal with summary offenses and civil cases of not more than ec$500 in value. The Industrial Court, for arbitration and settlement of trade disputes, was reintroduced in 1976. On 9 June 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The first session of the CCJ was scheduled for November 2003. Eight nationsBarbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobagoofficially approved the CCJ, although 14 nations, including Antigua and Barbuda, were planning to use the court for appeals.

The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. The suspect must be brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest or detention. The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence. The government respects these provisions in practice.


As of 2005, there was a Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force of some 170 active personnel (Army, 125; Navy, 45) and 75 reservists. The Navy has three patrol craft. The military budget in 2005 was $4.81 million.


Antigua and Barbuda joined the United Nations on 11 November 1981. It belongs to several specialized UN agencies, such as FAO, ICAO, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, UNESCO, the World Bank, and WHO. The country joined the WTO 1 January 1995. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the ACP Group, CARICOM, the CDB, G-77, the ICFTU, the World Confederation of Labor, and the World Federation of Trade Unions. It is also a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, the OECS, the OAS, the Eastern Caribbean's Regional Security System (RSS), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). In cooperation on environmental issues, Antigua and Barbuda is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the London Convention, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Sugar and cotton production historically were the mainstays of Antigua and Barbuda's economy. This changed in the 1960s when tourism became the main industry. The sugar industry has become insignificant and cotton output has declined. Antigua and Barbuda's reliance on tourism has made its economy quite vulnerable to natural disasters and global politics. As the production of sugar declined in the 1980s, the country's public sector debt skyrocketed. In the 1990s, the tourism industry was ravaged when five major hurricanes hit the islands. Tourism suffered an additional setback in 2001 and 2002 following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. As of 2004, the tourism industry had recovered, and logged more than 750,000 visitors, mostly from Europe and the United States, although the industry slowed again in 2005. About 500,000 of the visitor arrivals in 2004 came via cruise ship.

The economy of this small eastern Caribbean island-nation continues to be precarious. Antigua and Barbuda together consist of less than 300 square miles of land, and the nation had a population of 68,722 in July 2005. A troubling report from the International Monetary Fund in 2004 documented the nation's difficulties: debt was 137% of GDP, and salaries of government workersabout 37% of the total work forcewere eating up 60% of public revenue.

The International Monetary Fund noted in early 2006, however, that the government had introduced significant economic reforms, many of which have been designed to curb public sector corruption and to overhaul the country's tax system. The international lending authority is generally quite optimistic about Antigua and Barbuda's future.

The economy is primarily service-based. Tourism, financial services and government services are Antigua and Barbuda's major employers. Tourism accounts for more than half of the nation's GDP. What agricultural production remains is directed primarily to the domestic market. Farming faces water and labor shortages, as the lure of higher wages draws more people to tourism and construction. Tourism has helped stimulate the construction industry in recent years, leading to the development of enclave-type assembly plants where bedding, handicrafts, and electronics components are assembled for export.

GDP for Antigua and Barbuda was $815.2 million in 2004. In 2004, agriculture accounted for 3.2% of GDP and employed 11% of the labor force, while services, including tourism accounted for 76.8%. Antigua and Barbuda's small assembly plants made up the remaining 19.2% of GDP. The GDP growth rate fell to 3.5% in 2000, and hovered as of 2002 at about 3%, as the islands felt the effects of a worldwide slowdown in tourism. However, with the recovery of tourism, GDP rose to 5.2% in 2004. Although GDP growth slowed to 3% in 2005, the IMF anticipated that a rebound in tourism and construction activity associated with the 2007 Cricket World Cup would help stimulate Antigua and Barbuda's economy.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Antigua and Barbuda's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $750.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $11,000. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 0.4%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 3.9% of GDP, industry 19.2%, and services 76.8%.

In 2001 approximately 36% of household consumption was spent on food, 8% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 18% on education. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings.


The total labor force in 2002 was estimated at 30,000. About 82% of the employed labor force worked in occupations connected with tourism or other services; 7% in industry, and 11% in agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing. The unemployment rate was estimated at 11% in 2001.

Around 75% of the workforce is unionized. Workers have a recognized right to strike unless either party in a dispute requests mediation. Employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination are routinely ordered to make compensation payments to an affected worker, although the employer will not be required to rehire the worker.

The law provides for a maximum 48-hour workweek, but most people work 40 hours on the average. In 2002, the minimum wage averaged us$2.22 per hour, but generally wages are paid according to experience and skill level. The vast majority of employed persons earned substantially more than the minimum. There is a minimum working age of 16, which is entirely enforced by the Labor Ministry. In addition, those under the age of 18 are prohibited from working later than 10 pm and must have a medical clearance. All forms of compulsory or forced labor (including slavery) are forbidden. Although specific regulations and laws regarding occupational health and safety have yet to be promulgated by the government, workers can leave a workplace deemed to be dangerous, without facing jeopardy to their jobs.


Some 30% of land on Antigua is under crops or potentially arable, with 18% in use. Sea-island cotton is a profitable export crop. A modest amount of sugar is harvested each year, and there are plans for production of ethanol from sugarcane. Vegetables, including beans, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, plantains, squash, tomatoes, and yams, are grown mostly on small family plots for local markets. Over the past 40 years, agriculture's contribution to the GDP has fallen from over 404%. The decline in the sugar industry left 60% of the country's 66,000 acres under government control, and the Ministry of Agriculture is encouraging self-sufficiency in certain foods in order to curtail the need to import food, which accounts for up to 25% by value of all imports. Crops suffer from droughts and insect pests, and cotton and sugar plantings suffer from soil depletion and the unwillingness of the population to work in the fields. Mango production in 2004 was 1,430 tons.


Livestock estimates in 2004 counted 14,300 head of cattle, 19,000 sheep, and 36,000 goats; there were some 5,700 hogs in the same year. Most livestock is owned by individual households. Milk production in 2004 was an estimated 5,350 tons. The government has sought to increase grazing space and to improve stock, breeding Nelthropp cattle and Black Belly sheep. There is a growing poultry industry. In 1992, the European Development Bank provided us$5 million to the government to help develop the livestock industry.


Most fishing is for local consumption, although there is a growing export of the lobster catch to the United States and of some fish to Guadeloupe and Martinique. Antiguans consume more fish per capita (46 kg/101.4 lb) per year live weight than any other nation or territory in the Caribbean. The main fishing waters are near shore or between Antigua and Barbuda. There are shrimp and lobster farms operating, and the Smithsonian Institution has a Caribbean king crab farming facility for the local market. The government has encouraged modern fishing methods and supported mechanization and the building of new boats. Fish landings in 2003 were 2,587 tons; the lobster catch, 243 tons. Exports of fish commodities in 2003 were valued at us$1.4 million.


About 11% of the land is forested, mainly by plantings of red cedar, mahogany, white cedar, and acacia. A reforestation program was begun in 1963, linked with efforts to improve soil and water conservation.


Few of the islands' mineral resources, which included limestone, building stone, clay, and barite, were exploited until recently. Limestone and volcanic stone have been extracted from Antigua for local construction purposes, and the manufacture of bricks and tiles from local clay has begun on a small scale. Barbuda produced a small amount of salt, while phosphate has been collected from Redonda.


Electric power produced in 2002 totaled 0.099 billion kWh, all from fossil fuels, and based on a capacity of 27,000 kW. Consumption of electricity was 0.092 billion kWh. The Antigua Public Utilities Authority, run by the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, operates generating stations at Cassada Gardens and Crabbes Peninsula. Gas is now produced and refined locally. Offshore oil exploration took place during the early 1980s.

As part of the government's energy conservation program, incentives are offered for the manufacture and use of solar-energy units, and there are import surcharges on automobiles with engine capacities exceeding 2,000 cc. Under study as alternatives to fossil fuels are wind power, surplus bagasse from the sugar refinery, and fast-growing tree species. Imports of refined petroleum products in 1994 surpassed 3,000 barrels per day, mostly in the form of jet fuel, distillates, and gasoline.


Most of the industrial activity in Antigua and Barbuda is assembly-based, although the islands also produce rum, refined petroleum, and paints. Other items, such as furniture, handicrafts, and electrical components, are primarily for export. The government encourages investment in manufacturing establishments, and most industries have some government participation.

Industry accounted for 19.2% of GDP in 2002. Manufacturingwhich accounts for approximately 5% of GDPcomprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components. The industrial park, located in the Coolidge Area, produces a range of products such as paints, furniture, garments, and galvanized sheets, also mainly for export.


Technological services for the fishing industry, such as the introduction of depth finders and hydraulic gear, are provided by the government. An extramural department of the University of the West Indies offers technical courses, as does Antigua State College. The University of Health Sciences at St. John's, founded in 1982, has a school of medicine.


The economy in Antigua and Barbuda is primarily service based with a focus on tourism. General business is usually conducted from 8:30 am to 4 pm, MondaySaturday, except for Thursday afternoon, when many shops close. Banks are open from 8 am to noon five days a week, and on Friday additionally from 3 to 5 pm. St. John's is the main commercial center with many small shops and a few larger supermarkets. Fresh seafood and produce are sold in Saturday morning markets.


Antigua and Barbuda are part of the US Caribbean Basin Initiative that grants duty-free entry into the United States for many goods. Antigua and Barbuda also belongs to the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. However, with tourism as its primary industry, trading relationships between Antigua and Barbuda and other nations are relatively small. The islands import considerably more items than they export. Imports, for instance, totaled $369 million in 2004 compared with $20 million for exports. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that Antigua and Barbuda's exports would grow by 7.7% and imports would increase by 3.3% in 2005.

Most of what the country exports goes to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (24%), the United States (10%), Barbados (21%), and Trinidad and Tobago (7%). Imports include food and live animals, machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, and oil. Major providers are the United States (27%), the United Kingdom (10%), and the OECS (1%).


Foreign investment in tourism-related construction has helped to compensate for the trade imbalance that Antigua and Barbuda face. However, the dependence on imports is of concern to many experts on Antigua and Barbuda's economy, and the country has begun to take steps to increase its level of exports. The IMF projected that 2005 exports will increase by 7.7% while imports will rise more slowly to 3.6%.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2004 the purchasing power parity of Antigua and Barbuda's exports was $214 million. Imports accounted for $735 million.


There were eight commercial banks in 1994, five of which were foreign, including the Bank of Antigua and the Stanford International Bank. The Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank, wholly owned by the government, began operations in 1975. Currency is issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. The financial industry suffered in Antigua and Barbuda in 1999, due to fears of money laundering by drug cartels. The government passed the Money Laundering Prevention Amendment in order to protect foreign investment in the sector.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $125.8 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $577.6 million.


There are several life insurance companies on the islands.


Since the abolition of the income tax on residents, government revenues have been derived mainly from indirect taxes, principally customs and excise duties and consumption taxes. A major source of revenue is the US's military bases.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2000 Antigua and Barbuda's central government took in revenues of approximately $123.7 million and had expenditures of $145.9

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 15.0 356.0 -341.0
United States 3.2 176.1 -172.9
Montserrat 2.0 2.0
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1.7 1.7
France-Monaco 1.1 3.3 -2.2
United Kingdom 1.1 22.3 -21.2
Dominica 1.0 3.5 -2.5
Jamaica 0.9 2.7 -1.8
Trinidad and Tobago 0.8 21.4 -20.6
Saint Lucia 0.8 2.2 -1.4
Barbados 0.5 6.7 -6.2
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -102.6
   Balance on goods -290.8
     Imports -335.6
     Exports 44.8
   Balance on services 217.2
   Balance on income -34.5
   Current transfers 5.6
Capital Account 13.9
Financial Account 84.6
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Antigua and Barbuda 47.7
   Portfolio investment assets -2.9
   Portfolio investment liabilities 0.7
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -10.8
   Other investment liabilities 49.9
Net Errors and Omissions 11.7
Reserves and Related Items -7.7
() data not available or not significant.

million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately - $22.2 million. Total external debt was $231 million.


The profits tax for corporations in 2003 was 40%. Incorporated businesses are taxed at 2% of gross income with the first $4,160 of income per month tax-exempt. The income tax, introduced in 1924, was abolished for residents at the end of 1976. Taxes on residential property are based on current replacement values, and in 2003 were subject to surcharges of 020% depending on zoning regulations. Hotels are taxed at preferential rate of 0.2% of taxable value while other commercial property is taxed at 0.75% of taxable value. Other taxes include taxes on life and general insurance premiums, and on property transfers.


Antigua and Barbuda adheres to the common external tariff schedule of CARICOM; rates (which range up to 35%) are generally ad valorem, based on the cost, insurance, and freight value, and a wide range of goods is permitted duty-free entry. Additional special rates are applied for tobacco, cement, petroleum products, vans and trucks, and certain types of timber.


The government's efforts to improve the investment climate have met with some success. Antigua and Barbuda offer tax holiday periods of 10 to 15 years, and rebates of 2550% to export-oriented industries. The country also allows imports of machinery, equipment, spare parts, and raw materials duty free to companies who meet government requirements. The offshore financial sector has grown aggressively, offering tax-haven facilities to international business companies, trusts, banks, and insurance companies. In addition, the country has no capital gains or personal income tax. In addition to local tax and duty concessions, manufacturers have access to the United States, European, Canadian, and Caribbean markets through the Lomé Convention, Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), CARICOM, and other agreements.

In 1997 and 1998, the reported inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) was $22.9 million and $27.4 million respectively. Increases in 1999 and 2000 to $36.5 million and $33.2 million reflected growth in the islands' technology sector when the Internet gaming company Starnet Communications International moved its headquarters to St. John's. Internet gaming is treated like a financial institution under the law. FDI increased steadily, rising to $106 million in 2004.


Because of its reliance on tourism, Antigua and Barbuda's prospects for economic growth will depend on the economic fortunes of the industrialized world, particularly the EU and United States. However, the hurricanes and global slowdown in tourism following the 11 September 2001 attacks have prompted Antigua and Barbuda to begin diversifying the economy in recent years. The island-nation encourages growth in transportation, communications, Internet gambling, and financial services.

Antigua has the largest tourist sector in the Leeward and Windward Islands. Frequent cruise ship arrivals at the St. John's Harbour and the Deep Water Harbour play a major part in boosting tourism.

There has been a substantial decrease in agriculture's contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), falling from 40% to just slight more than 3% since the 1960s. However, the Ministry of Agriculture has been implementing policies to encourage farmers to increase output in an effort to decrease imports of agricultural products. The trade imbalance severely endangers the Antiguan and Barbadian economy in the event of decreased tourism revenues.


Social insurance was implemented in 1972, with a social assistance system enacted in 1993. All employees and self-employed between the ages of 16 and 59 are covered, with a few minor exceptions. The program is funded by contributions from employees and employers. It provides old age, disability, and survivor benefits. The cost of a medical insurance scheme that includes maternity benefits is shared equally between employers and employees. Workers' medical services are provided directly through public health facilities.

Although there are no legal restrictions on women's roles in society, traditional expectations tend to limit their activities outside the home, especially in rural areas. Women are well represented in public service, accounting for more than half of the work force. Domestic violence against women is a serious problem, but the legal system is often lenient when addressing this issue. Police are reluctant to intervene, and many abused women refuse to testify for fear of retaliation. Nongovernmental organizations were increasingly advocating women's rights and providing support to abused women. Child abuse also appeared to be prevalent.

Human rights are generally respected by the government, although prison conditions are poor.


Four institutions are maintained for the care of the sick and aged. Holberton Hospital, with 135 beds, is the only public acute care facility. The only private hospital is Adelin Medical Center. Other facilities include the Fiennes Institute for the aged, with 100 beds, and the Mental Hospital, with 150 beds. In addition, 9 health centers and 18 dispensaries are located throughout the country. As of 2004, there were an estimated 17 physicians, 328 nurses, and 18 dentists per 100,000 people.

The infant mortality rate in 2005 was estimated at 22 per 1,000 live births, up from 12 in 1998. The average life expectancy was 71.9 years in 2005. As of 1995, 100% of the population was immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus and 94% against measles, mumps, and rubella. The leading causes of death included cancer, cardiovascular disease, and trauma.

By the end of 2003, 271 cases of HIV/AIDS had been reported. As of that year, the annual incidence of AIDS was 209 per million people. The government approved a national policy on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in 1997.


The housing stock in Antigua and Barbuda is continually threatened by natural disasters, particularly by severe hurricanes which seem to hit the country every three to five years. The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHAPA) advises on suitable sites, rehabilitates houses in the event of disaster, develops new housing tracts, and redevelops blighted areas. In March 2003, the government announced that plans were in place for CHAPA to build a number of affordable housing developments on private lands and to institute a Housing Improvement Mortgage program to make it easier for citizens to purchase these homes. At least six housing developments are planned as part of a three-year program to meet increased demand for housing. Most of these planned homes are single family dwellings with two or three bedrooms.


Education for children between the ages of 5 and 16 years is compulsory. Primary education begins at the age of five years and normally lasts for seven years. Secondary education lasts for five years, with three years of lower secondary, followed by two years of upper secondary. In 2001, there were about 13,000 students enrolled at the primary schools and 5,000 students at the secondary schools. About 1,000 secondary school age students were enrolled in vocational programs. As of 2000 the primary pupil-teacher ratio was an estimated 19 to 1; the ratio for secondary school was about 13:1. The government administers the majority of the schools. In 2003, estimated spending on education was about 3.8% of the GDP. In 2000, about 38% of primary school students were enrolled in private schools.

There currently are three colleges. The University of Health Sciences, Antigua, was founded in 1982. It had, in the 1990s, an enrollment of 46 students and 16 teachers. The University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies (Antigua and Barbuda) was founded in 1949 and offers adult education courses, secretarial skills training programs, summer courses for children, and special programs for women. In 1972, the technical and teacher's training colleges merged and formed the Antigua State College.

The University of the West Indies has campuses in Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica, and it maintains extramural departments in several other islands, including Antigua. Those interested in higher education also enroll at schools in the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe and Canada. The adult literacy rate is approximately 89%.


The largest library is the Antigua Public Library located in St. John's with 50,000 volumes. The library at the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies on St. John's has 10,000 volumes. The American University of Antigua College of Medicine has been establishing a fairly good sized library, primarily for use by the students and faculty. The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda is at St. John's, as is Betty's Hope, a historic sugar plantation. A Dockyard Museum is housed in the Naval Officer's House at English Harbor.


The islands' automatic telephone system, operated by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, had approximately 38,000 mainline telephones in 2002. The same year, there were about 38,200 mobile phones in use. International telephone and telex services are supplied by Cable and Wireless (West Indies), Ltd.

In 2001, the first independent radio station, Observer, began operations. This station is operated by the owners of the Observer newspaper. In 2005, there were six main radio broadcast stations. ABS Radio is run by Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service, Crusader Radio is owned by the United Progressive Party, and Caribbean Radio Lighthouse is operated by the Baptist church. The only television station, ABS Television, is operated by the government. In 1997 there were about 36,000 radios and 31,000 television sets in use throughout the country. In 2003, there were about 1,665 Internet hosts within the country serving about 10,000 users.

The Workers' Voice, the official publication of the ALP and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, appears weekly and has a circulation of 6,000 as of 2002. The Outlet, published weekly by the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement, has a circulation of 5,000. The Nation, with a circulation of about 1,500, is published by the government and appears weekly.

The constitution ensures the freedom of expression and press, and the authorities are said to generally respect these rights in practice. However, the government dominates all electronic media, thereby restricting to some degree opposing political expression and news.


Four employers' organizations represent workers' interests in Antigua and Barbuda. The Antigua Chamber of Commerce has its headquarters in St. John's. The Antigua Cotton Growers Association was founded in 1985.

Many missionary, charity, and family health organizations have operations on the islands, including Planned Parenthood, the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation, the Inter-American Foundation, the American Bible Society, and the People-to-People Health Foundation. There is a chapter of Lions Clubs International. The Antigua and Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities was founded in 1995.

Youth organizations include the Girls Brigade, Red Cross Youth, Young Women's Christian Association, Girl Guides, Young Men's Christian Association, and Youth for Christ. There are also a few national sports organizations, such as the Athletic Association of Antigua and Barbuda and the Antigua and Barbuda Tennis Association.

There are national chapters of the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and UNICEF.


Tourism is the main source of revenue in Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua's plethora of beachessaid to number as many as 365and its charter yachting and deep-sea fishing facilities have created the largest tourist industry in the Windward and Leeward Islands. The international regatta and Summer Carnival are popular annual events. Cricket is the national pastime; local matches are played Thursday afternoons, Saturdays, and Sundays. All visitors, except nationals of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, must have a valid passport to enter Antigua and Barbuda.

A wide range of hotels and restaurants served approximately 232,000 tourists in 1999. Receipts from tourism climbed to us$290 million that year.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily expenses in Antigua and Barbuda at us$222.


The first successful colonizer of Antigua was Sir Thomas Warner (d.1649). Vere Cornwall Bird, Sr. (191099) was prime minister from 198194. (Isaac) Vivian Alexander ("Viv") Richards (b.1952) is a famous cricketer. Jamaica Kincaid (b.1949), author of Autobiography of My Mother (1996), was born Elaine Potter Richardson; she changed her name when she moved to the United States.


Antigua and Barbuda has no territories or colonies.


Berleant-Schiller, Riva. Antigua and Barbuda. Oxford: Clio, 1995.

Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Coram, Robert. Caribbean Time Bomb: The United States' Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua. New York: Morrow, 1993.

Davis, Dave D. Jolly Beach and the Preceramic Occupation of Antigua, West Indies. New Haven, Conn.: Dept. of Anthropology, Yale University, 2000.

Etherington, Melanie. The Antigua and Barbuda Companion. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Interlink Books, 2003.

Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.

Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2000.

Philpott, Don. Antigua and Barbuda. Ashbourne, Eng.: Landmark, 2000.

Simmons, Diane. Jamaica Kincaid. New York: Twayne, 1994.

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Antigua and Barbuda


Major City:
St. John's


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report for Antigua and Barbuda. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


ANTIGUA (pronounced An-tee-ga) is a three-island nation located about 1,200 miles southeast of Miami. The country consists of the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, and the uninhabited island of Redonda. Each of these islands is unique. Antigua's topography is varied. In the north and west, the gently undulating terrain consists of limestone, marls, and sandstone. In the south and east, the land is of volcanic origin, with high ridges and forests common to many other Caribbean islands. Thirty-two miles to the north, Barbuda is a 62-square mile flat island composed of limestone, ancient coral reefs, and sand. It has a 14-mile long beach. Twenty miles west lies Redonda, a solitary volcanic cone jutting directly out of the sea to a height of over 1,000 feet. Steep cliffs surround the area of less than one-half square mile.

Among Antigua's attractions are 365 beautiful white sand beaches. Tourists arrive by cruise ship, yachts, and airliners to relax in the sea, sun, and surf, or enjoy all kinds of water sports. In the off-season, it is possible to find many uninhabited beaches. History buffs will find Antigua rich in human events, agriculture, and strategic importance.


St. John's

St. John's, with a population of 24,000 (2000 estimate) is the capital of Antigua and Barbuda. It is situated on Deep Water Harbor, where as many as five Caribbean cruise ships dock for the day, adding hundreds of tourists to the daily activity. From this protected location nearly all commerce occurs; from the quaint fish market to the modern mini-mall, people come to trade and transact business. In daytime, people scurry about in the narrow streets, taking time to greet friends along the way. On cool evenings, people stroll leisurely in the refreshing sea breeze.


Antiguans dress in moderation and are conditioned to tropical living. As a result, it is common for men to work in blue jeans and long sleeve shirts, and women in synthetic fabric dresses. It is acceptable for tourists to wear shorts. However, American women living in Antigua find dresses or slacks more appropriate. North Americans who are not accustomed to living in tropical climates should bring lightweight clothing. Cotton or cotton-blend garments are the most comfortable. Antigua has a few fine-quality clothing stores, but clothing is expensive. Expatriates should bring an ample supply of shoes as local varieties are not well made and sizes are different from U.S. standards. In the heat and humidity, shoes one-half size larger are more comfortable.

Clothing and accessories suitable for men include wash-and-wear business suits, sport jackets, shirts worn with or without ties, sport shirts, and slacks. Shirt jacs or a guayabera, and slacks are popular. Working attire for women is usually a modest suit, a cotton dress, or a blouse and skirt. Stockings are not normally worn. Hats are not normally worn except occasionally to church or at a sunny beach. Antiguan women are fashion conscious and like to dress for cocktail and dinner parties. Nights are occasionally cool, so a lightweight cotton sweater or shawl is useful. For children, normal U.S. summer wear is suitable, with lightweight jackets or cardigans for cool evenings. All schools, including preschool, require uniforms. Girls wear simple one-piece dresses, or skirts and blouses. Boys wear slacks and shirts. In secondary schools, a tie completes the dress code. Uniforms are made and sold locally.

Supplies & Services

In general, it is possible to buy most anything in Antigua. However, prices are often highly inflated. Stocks are often small and selections are poor compared to the U.S. American expatriates often order most items via catalogs. St. John's offers an interesting variety of stores and boutiques. Specialties include straw goods, pottery, batik and silk-screened fabrics and jewelry incorporating semiprecious Antiguan stones. China, crystal, watches and perfumes are obtainable at duty-free prices. Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay are the two main shopping areas in St. John's. Many expatriates also making shopping trips to St. Martin's or Puerto Rico.

The number of establishments offering basic services is limited. Dry-cleaning services are poor. Many people restrict the need for drycleaning because of the expense, and availability of cotton and synthetic substitutes. Shoe and leather repair service is good, and some crafters do custom work. Barbershops are adequate and charge reasonable prices. A wide range of hair care services are available, including permanents, tints, and stylings. Many hairdressers are expatriates. Dressmakers vary in skill, but some can take a length of fabric and fashion anything from sundresses to formal wear. Some repair work is good, but the standard of most is uneven, particularly if unsupervised. Progress is often slow and further hampered by periodic unavailability of materials and electrical failures. Repair work on cars, electronic equipment, and household appliances varies in quality, because of the lack of expertise and unfamiliarity with certain electronic devices.


St. John's has four supermarkets, several well-stocked minimarkets, and numerous small stores. Many canned and packaged goods are U.S. name brands, the rest are from Europe or nearby islands. Imported dairy products are safe; local products are not. Most eggs are imported. Cattle, hogs, and chickens are raised and processed locally. All are safe to eat if cooked properly. Cuts vary widely from those in U.S. meat markets. Beware of frozen packaged meats in smaller stores; power failures are frequent and meat lockers may not have generator backup. Local bakeries make fresh breads and pastries. Packaged cereals may not be fresh, and grain products are subject to bug infestations.

Fresh seafood is always available at the Saturday morning market; for other times, it is wise to establish contact with a local fisherman. Fresh vegetables and fruits are also sold at the Saturday market and stores. Most are imported, since the economy does not have an agricultural base. Most stores sell wines, hard liquor, and brand name soft drinks. Diet foods and products are rarely available.

A local cuisine specialty is roti. It is an unleavened bread shell folded in half and filled with a curry gravy, vegetables, and a meat. Roti made from conch meat is considered a delicacy. Barbudan lobsters are excellent. Cockles are an island favorite, especially around Whit's Day. Numerous downtown restaurants cater to the professional community. Antigua has a U.S.-based fast-food chicken restaurant.

For dining out, it is possible to choose from a variety of hotel restaurants, offering everything from smorgasbords to full course meals. Most specialties are "the catch of the day" seafoods. Also, ethnic restaurants featuring Italian, French, Chinese, British, and American cuisine exist. Dress is casual at restaurants, but hotels are slightly more formal. Hotels that cater to tourists may inflate some prices.

Domestic Help

Domestics are available for laundry and household chores. Some families with large gardens may also hire a part-time gardener. Reliable employees can usually be found through friends. However, it is best to hire on a temporary basis at first and set out the terms of employment.

Wages are governed by law; minimum wage is generally EC $20 a day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., five days a week. Workers have one paid holiday a month. Domestic help is entitled to all local holidays, and a Christmas bonus is suggested. All workers over 18 years of age must register. Employers pay social security and medical insurance that is accumulated by a deduction of 5.5% from employee wages and an employer contribution of 7.5%. Employers provide either transportation or bus fares.


The children of American expatriates attend local schools. Schooling is adequate through high school. However, American history and geography are not taught. Many parents select private schools as they are perceived to have a higher quality of education. Schools in St. John's follow the British educational system and are in session from September until the last week in June. Instruction is in English. Teachers and teaching assistants may be hired locally or recruited from neighboring islands or the expatriate community. All schools have open play areas and all-purpose playing fields; however, they do not have closed auditoriums. Some extracurricular activities are available such as scouting, cricket, basketball, volleyball, and soccer.

Schools in Antigua cannot support special educational requirements. Children with learning disabilities, or physical, behavioral, or emotional handicaps should be placed in U.S. schools.


As in most Caribbean countries, cricket is Antigua's national sport. Soccer (locally called football) and basketball are played in the off-season. A local board game, called warri, is played on a board with hollowed pockets. Two opponents move warri beans about, seeking to capture the opponents' beans. Warri is popular with cabbies and bus drivers awaiting fares.

Antigua has two golf courses open for year-round play. Cedar Valley Golf Club has an 18-hole championship course. This challenging course has narrow fairways, deep roughs, and hilly terrain. Clubs and accessories are available at the recreation building. Half Moon Bay Hotel, located on the opposite side of the island, has a 9-hole course more hospitable to casual players. Equipment can be rented.

All water sport activities abound. It is possible to rent sailboats, both large and small. Powerboating is used mainly for fishing, but in some places, powerboats are used for parasailing, water skiing, and sightseeing. Small craft and inexperienced pilots should not operate in the open Atlantic. Coral reefs and shoals encircle Antigua, and novices must learn to identify and navigate these hazards. Antigua's clear waters offer abundant marine flora and fauna.

St. John's offers many sight-seeing opportunities. St. John's has an old fort that can be readily explored. Fort James, built in 1703, guarded the entrance to St. John's Harbor. Many of the original buildings no longer exist, but some buildings that remain date back to 1749. The fort still has ten cannons. Each weigh about two and one half tons and can propel a cannonball one and one half miles. Another tourist attraction is St. John's Cathedral. Built in 1722, the cathedral's interior is encased in wood to protect it from hurricane and earthquake damage.

In addition to sights in St. John's, there are points of interest throughout the island. Nelson's Dockyard, built in 1784 as the headquarters of Admiral Horatio Nelson, is situated in one of the safest landlocked harbors in the world. Today, the Dockyard has been restored to its original state and houses a museum that is very popular among visitors. Indian Town, one of Antigua's national parks, features Devil's Bridge, carved out by the forces of the Atlantic Ocean. Clarence House, the Governor's residence, is open to the public when the Governor is absent. The house was once the home of the "Sailor King," William IV, when he was Duke of Clarence.

Many old sugarcane mills are familiar landmarks throughout the island. Betty's Hope is one of the oldest plantation sites in Antigua, dating back to 1655. It was Antigua's foremost sugar plantations for large-scale sugar cultivation and innovative processing methods. The Sugar Factory had twin stone windmill towers, a laborers' village, and an extensive water catchment system. Most buildings are in ruins, but restoration plans are underway.

Antigua hosts several international events. In late July, Antigua hosts a ten-day Carnival. Visitors come from all over the world. It is a time when people celebrate the people's emancipation and freedom from subjugation. During "J'Ouvert," a Carnival highlight, everyone comes together jumping and jamming to the pulsing, rhythmic sounds of steel pan and brass bands. Carnival Monday is a riot of color. The elaborate costumes are combinations of sequins, feathers, beads, and glitter, often towering ten to fifteen feet in the air. Each represents countless hours of painstaking work to design and create.

Antiguan Sailing Week has evolved into one of the world's top sailing regattas. It attracts many spectators to watch the excitement of the races and to join in the parties that follow. Sailing Week, which begins the last week in April and continues during the first week in May, is a blend of international, regional, and local yachts. Many colorful sails catch the wind as yachts jostle to pass each other on the sea. Races are organized into different categories.


St. John's has limited forms of entertainment. One popular discotheque occasionally offers performances by regionally well-known groups. Apart from this, nightlife is confining. The one movie theater, in the shopping district, offers a mix of martial arts movies, "B" movies, and an occasional recently released film. Video clubs are coming to Antigua, but prices are high.

Many hotels offer live entertainment on particular nights. Steel drums and reggae bands, along with other musical groups, are featured. Casino gambling is popular; however, odds heavily favor the house.

Among expatriates, cocktail parties, small suppers, or dining out are common ways to entertain. Community fund-raising events are held throughout the year. The American Women's Club coordinates philanthropic and community activities. Most people find the life-style on Antigua limiting and feel a periodic need to leave the island. Many expatriates also enjoy golf, bridge, and special hobbies.


Geography and Climate

Antigua is roughly oval in shape, 10 miles by 12 miles, with a land area of 108 square miles. Although Antigua is volcanic in origin, it also has extensive limestone geology. Various coral reefs surround the island. Antigua's shores are washed by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Caribbean Sea on the west. This makes Antigua unique and diverse in both terrestrial and marine flora and fauna. Boggy Peak, at 1,330 feet, is the highest prominent landmark. Barbuda, which is not commercialized or overly developed, promises a nearly unspoiled fishing, snorkeling, and scuba-diving paradise. Most of the 1,500 Barbudans live in the town of Codrington.

Antigua's climate is heavily influenced by the easterly trade winds and sea currents that are present all year. Drier than most other Caribbean islands, Antigua and Barbuda's climate is tropical, with low humidity and an average rainfall of 42 inches. Most homes in Antigua have cisterns, and the island has numerous ponds, reservoirs, and catchment systems to store rain water, which until recently was the only natural fresh-water source on the island. During the cool season, December-February, night temperatures range from 60°F to 65°F. Average daytime temperatures are 76°F, December-April, and 85 ° F in August and September.

Although the official hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30, August and September are the two most active months. At this time, tropical storms form in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and spend days building their wind velocities as they approach the Caribbean. On September 16, 1989, Hurricane Hugo passed within 40 miles south of Antigua, causing extensive damage to the entire island. Historically speaking, the threat of a major hurricane hitting Antigua is small; the last direct strike was in 1952.


The people of Antigua and Barbuda are almost exclusively of black African origin. Antiguans and Barbudans are largely descendants of African slaves who were transported from West Africa in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Several minorities are also represented. These persons are the descendants of Lebanese and Syrian traders, British colonial settlers, and Portuguese laborers. Statistically, life expectancy is 68 years for males and 73 years for females (2001 estimates). The educational requirement is a compulsory 9 years, and the literacy rate is roughly 90%. Antigua and Barbuda has an estimated population of 64,500; 98% live on Antigua. Redonda is uninhabited.


The earliest known human-made artifacts have been carbon dated at least to 1775 B.C. These people have been named the "Siboney," the Stone People. Their society was that of nomadic food gatherers having no agriculture or permanent settlements.

About the time of Christ, an agricultural society made its way up the chain of islands from South America. They brought with them new plants such as peanut, pineapple, cotton, and tobacco plants.

Later, A.D. 1200-1300, two Amerindian societies with opposing lifestyles coexisted; the peaceful and pottery-making Arawaks, and the fierce and warlike Caribs. Arawaks came here for clay, a resource in short supply elsewhere and essential for making pottery. The Caribs are thought to have exploited another earth resource, flint, a hard mineral necessary in the making of arrowheads and spear points.

The first Western explorer believed to have discovered Antigua was Christopher Columbus. In his second voyage in 1493, Columbus was sailing from the south when he spotted Antigua on the horizon. It was at this time that he named Antigua after a sainted miracle worker, Santa Maria de Antigua, from Seville Cathedral, Spain. Columbus did not stop or set foot on Antigua, he continued northbound to Hispaniola, convinced that gold and spices existed there.

For the next 200-300 years, there was great imperial rivalry for control and possession of the Caribbean islands. The Spanish Armada, the Dutch and French fleets, and British Navy all had a military presence.

The English successfully colonized Antigua in 1632. Although the island was held briefly by the French in 1666, Antigua remained thereafter under British control.

Sir Christopher Codrington established the first large sugar estate in Antigua in 1674 and leased Barbuda to raise provisions for the plantation. Barbuda's only settlement is named for him. Sir Codrington and others brought slaves from Africa's west coast to work the plantation. To exploit the land for sugar cane production, plantation owners cleared the forest and woods. Today, many Antiguans attribute frequent droughts to the island's early deforestation. Antigua's profitable sugar plantations were soon the envy of other European powers. To defend the island's growing wealth, the British built several large forts. The ruins of these forts are notable tourist attractions.

Antiguan slaves were emancipated in 1834, but they remained bound to their plantation owners. A lack of surplus farming land, no access to credit, and an economy built on agriculture rather than manufacturing limited economic opportunities for the freed men. Poor labor conditions continued until 1939, when a member of a Royal Commission urged the formation of a trade union movement. The Antigua Trades and Labor Union, formed shortly afterward, became the political vehicle for Vere Cornwall Bird, who became the union's president in 1943. The Antigua Labor Party (ALP), formed by Bird and other trade unionists, first ran candidates in the 1946 elections, thus beginning a long history of electoral victories. In 1971, general elections swept the Progressive Labor Movement into power, but Bird and the ALP returned to office in 1976. Prime Minister Bird's ALP government has led the country since, winning a renewed mandate in the 1989 general election.


Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the British Commonwealth. As head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II is represented in Antigua and Barbuda by a Governor General, who acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party of the House, and the Cabinet conducts affairs of state. Antigua and Barbuda has a bicameral legislature: a 17-member popularly elected Upper House or Senate appointed by the Governor General (mainly on the advice of the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition) and a 17-member popularly elected House of Representatives. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are responsible to the Parliament, which has a normal term of five years.

Constitutional safeguards include freedoms of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. Like its English-speaking neighbors, Antigua and Barbuda has an outstanding human rights record. Its judicial system is modeled on British practice and procedure, and its jurisprudence on English Common Law.

The flag of Antigua and Barbuda is red with an inverted isosceles triangle based on the top edge of the flag; the triangle contains three horizontal bands of black (top), light blue, and white with a yellow sun rising in the black band.

Arts, Science, Education

The longest established gallery is The Art Center at English Harbor. It only displays local art, but it has influenced the development of art in the Caribbean. The island's newest addition is the Seahorse Studio's Art Gallery. This studio was established in 1985 to provide graphics and layout services for local businesses. In addition to Caribbean art displays are unique gold and bronze marine crafts made in Antigua by "The Goldsmitty." The Island Arts Foundation has four galleries in Antigua, and six associate galleries throughout the islands. Island Arts offers the widest variety of Caribbean art anywhere in the region. It is a nonprofit company devoted to economic support of Caribbean-based artists. Coates College and The Art Gallery both feature local artists' exhibits year round. Harmony Hall of Jamaica has a branch studio on Antigua at Brown's Bay. Exhibitions change every three to four weeks, November to March. Aiton Place has art pieces at numerous fine hotels.

The Antigua Arts Society, a group of local and regional artists, actively provides direction and promotes growth in all art forms. The Society sponsors regional art fairs and showings.

Antigua has four museums. The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda has tours, book libraries, and computer libraries open to visitors and residents. It is also a research area for foreign students. The museum has direct links with several universities, such as Tulane, Brown, Northern Illinois, and Cambridge. Students can research in areas from geology and archeology to sociology and communications. A second museum, the Museum of Marine and Living Art, offers a stunning collection of seashells and relics salvaged from old shipwrecks.

The oldest museum in Antigua was established in 1953 at English Harbor. The Dockyard Museum is near the waterfront and deals with naval history. Antigua was Britain's major Caribbean naval base for much of the colonial period. The museum has large ship models on loan from the British National Maritime Museum.

The newest museum is on the road to Shirley Heights. This once was the largest fort, and its main function was to reinforce Antigua's defenses. It now houses the Military and Infantry Museum.

In Antigua, public education is free and compulsory for children ages five-16. The education system is modeled after British schools. Parents provide books and uniforms for the three local coeducational elementary schools. One is secular, a second is Roman Catholic, and a third is Lutheran. Tuition varies according to the school's funding.

Antigua has two Roman Catholic high schools, one for girls and one for boys. Both schools are highly regarded. Uniforms are required, and a demerit system governs discipline and conduct. Classes in history, geography, and literature are regional in nature.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) has campuses in Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica, and maintains extramural departments in several other islands including Antigua. Antiguans interested in higher education enroll at UWI campuses, or schools in Britain, the United States, Europe, and Canada.

The Venezuelan Institute for Culture and Cooperation offers many interesting programs, free to the public. Spanish lessons are provided for adults at all conversational and grammatical levels. Sewing lessons are offered throughout the year. Occasionally, cooking, music, and art classes are also given.

Commerce and Industry

Sugar cultivation, long dominating Antigua and Barbuda's economy, was a major export until 1960, when prices fell dramatically and crippled the industry. By 1972, the industry was largely dismantled. The agricultural pattern in Antigua has shifted to a multiple cropping system. Though fruit and vegetable production predominates, the Antiguan government has encouraged investment in livestock, cotton, and export-oriented food crops.

Currently, the economy is based on services rather than manufacturing. Tourism is the economic backbone and main source of foreign exchange. Over 150,000 cruise ship visitors and 250,000 overnight visitors arrive each year.

In the private sector, domestic and foreign investments are encouraged. Private businesses benefit from a stable political environment, good transportation to and from the island, and a pleasant climate. Government policies also provide liberal tax holidays, duty-free import of equipment and materials, and subsidies for training local personnel. The country's reasonably sound infrastructure is an added incentive.

Nontraditional exports have grown in recent years. Foreign investors, lured by Antigua's good transportation connections to North America and Europe, have set up light manufacturing industries on the island, primarily in the finished textile and electronic component assembly sectors. Some of the newer industries produce durable household appliances, paints, furniture, mattresses, metal and iron products, and masonry products for the local market as well as for export.

Barbuda supports a tremendous diversity of unexploited native habitats, including a bird sanctuary. It is hoped that development will focus on preserving these natural attributes.

Redonda's economic importance lies in the past. In 1860, Redonda was worked for its valuable bird guano, and later for aluminum phosphate. At the outbreak of World War I, mining operations ceased. After the war, technological advances made during the war made further mining uneconomical. Today, the island's only inhabitants are the birds. Redonda's quarry works stand alone, mute testimony to a bygone day.


Americans need private cars. Most Americans buy cars here, as right-hand drive vehicles are more appropriate for local driving. Japanese cars predominate locally; other Asian Pacific Rim cars make up the difference. There is a 100% duty rate for locally purchased or imported cars. U.S. Government employees are exempt from this tax. Landrovers are popular, especially for exploring the island or towing a boat. Many people consider air-conditioning indispensable, particularly in the rainy, hot season. Fuel-injected or sport cars are not recommended due to the inferior quality and low octane of imported gasoline.

Auto mechanics and repair shops service locally sold cars satisfactorily, but parts are generally unavailable for other imports. Expatriates should bring an ample supply of spare parts with them, including a dry-charged battery, fanbelts and hoses, a tune-up kit, fuel and water pumps, windshield wiper blades, oil, gasoline and air filters, headlights, indicator lamps, and an extra set of tires.

An Antiguan drivers license is required for all drivers. To obtain a license, present a valid U.S. drivers license to the local constabulary. A three-month temporary permit is issued and should be used until the permanent license is received. The U.S. drivers license is also returned.

Antiguan roads are not well maintained. Potholes are numerous, and roads are narrow and steep in hilly areas. Newcomers should exercise extreme care when driving in Antigua. The accident rate is very high because of poor road conditions, excessive speeding and passing by some residents, and because Americans are unfamiliar with driving on the left. Speed limit signs are infrequent and poorly observed or enforced. Taxis and buses frequently stop in the middle of the road for passengers. Road markings, such as center lines, are absent. In the city of St. John's, only a few streets are identified with signs. Rural roads do not have signs. Caution should be observed when driving in rural areas because livestock often wander aimlessly into traffic.

For those who do not have their own cars, taxis and rental cars are the main source of transportation. It is important to negotiate fares before getting into a cab because the cabs are not metered. Some comfortable, newer buses and minivans commute between St. John's and outlying communities. However, they are often overcrowded and driven recklessly. Several car rental firms offer mostly small Japanese models for rent by the day, week, or month. Rates are expensive.

Vere Cornwall Bird International Airport handles all international flights. Nonstop connections to Antigua from London, New York, Miami, Puerto Rico, Toronto, Frankfurt, Guadeloupe, Baltimore, and St. Maarten are available. Connections from several U.S. cities are routed through San Juan, Puerto Rico. Regularly scheduled air service is provided by British Airways, American Airlines, British West Indies Airways, Air Canada, and Continental Airlines. The regional airline, Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) provides service from Antigua and Barbuda to many locations within the Caribbean.


Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Hugo and is slowly repairing and upgrading its telephone equipment. Phones often stop working, and service is slow and unreliable. Long-distance, direct-dialing is available to most of the world.

The government-operated Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service (ABBS) has one radio station and a television station. A privately owned radio station, Radio ZDK, broadcasts from St. John's. The format of Radio ZDK consists primarily of local news and features and sometimes includes prerecorded programs from U.S. satellite services. Antigua's one Christian broadcast radio station, Caribbean Radio Lighthouse, is affiliated with the Baptist Church. Many Americans enjoy listening to GEM-94, which broadcasts from the island of Montserrat. This satellite syndicated station features contemporary and oldies music.

Because it experiences little electromagnetic interference, Antigua is an ideal location for shortwave reception. Stations from around the world, including BBC Caribbean and Radio Deutsche Welle, can be received. The Voice of America also has a relay station on Antigua that broadcasts daily. Programming is mainly regional and world news, with some special music features and world reports aired on the weekends.

Antigua has three weekly publications that publish local and regional events but do not cover social and international events. Freedom of the press is guaranteed by law. The Nation and The Worker's Voice are government owned and abridged. The Outlet is privately owned and unabridged.

U.S. paperbacks and magazines are readily found. The Miami Herald and USA Today are available one day late. Bookshops, although small, sell a wide range of paperback novels, some reference books, and hardcovers at about twice U.S. prices. The small public library in St. John's has a good reference section. Library fees are reasonable.


Antigua has some qualified doctors who were trained in the U.S. or Britain. However, specialists in pediatrics, surgery, ear, nose, and throat, cardiology, oncology, dermatology, neurology, orthopedics, and more advanced internal medicine are limited. Emergency obstetrical care is not immediately available. Holberton Hospital is old and inadequate. Nursing care is limited.

Current community health requirements fall below U.S. standards. In St. John's, open gutters carry untreated waste. Sewage treatment is inadequate, and the limited public restroom facilities are unclean. The weekly garbage pickup is deposited into open dump sites.

In St. John's, water is treated and has been safe to drink. However, the distribution system is old, and broken water mains can lead to contamination. If this occurs, unpotable water must be boiled and filtered before use. Homes have cisterns as an alternative source.

Infectious hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and intestinal parasites are common. Tropical weather and high humidity are conducive to skin and fungal infections.

Frequent power outages can result in food spoilage. Therefore, exercise caution when purchasing frozen foods. Meats purchased in Antiguan markets should be thoroughly cooked. Some large predatory fish that feed from the reef environment food chains contain a neurotoxin, which can produce diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches, numbness, tingling of the mouth and extremities, itching, and severe headaches. Neurological symptoms can last a few days or longer.

Although none of the following inoculations is required for entry, they are highly recommended. Visitors and expatriates should be inoculated against typhoid, polio, tetanus, and hepatitis. Children should be have measles, mumps, rubella, and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) shots, and an oral polio vaccine (OPV).

Although no special preparation of fruits and vegetables is required, visitors and expatriates should be aware of some toxic plants. The manchineel is a tropical American tree that has a poisonous fruit and a poisonous milky sap that causes skin blisters on contact. Three other common ornamental plants with a similar alkaline sap are the candelabra cactus, the frangipani bush, and the poinsettia. They too can cause skin redness and irritation.

Antigua and Barbuda do not have poisonous snakes since the introduction of the mongoose. However, there are scorpions, centipedes, and tarantulas. Their sting or bite is toxic and painful, and immediate care should be sought. The islands also have rodents and flying and crawling insects. Certain types of coral formations (the fire coral) can cause severe skin irritation, and spiny sea urchins can cause major foot infections if stepped on and left untreated. Visitors should also be aware that the stings of Portuguese man-of-war and the scorpion fish can be very painful and possibly deadly. Broken glass and sharp metal objects are often found at old ruins and abandoned sites. Caution should be exercised when exploring these areas.

Gradual exposure to the tropical sun's rays is the best protection against painful sunburn. Gradually increasing the length of exposure time each day will build up a protective tan. A hat should be worn between 11 am and 2 pm as the sun is most intense during this period. A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or better should be worn.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 14 Valentine's Day

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May. Labor Day*

May. Queen's Official Birthday

June Whitsunday*

June Whitmonday*

Aug. Carnival*

Nov. 1 State Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day



Passage, Customs & Duties

A valid passport or certified birth certificate and picture identification, such as a driver's license, are required of U.S. citizens entering Antigua and Barbuda. A return ticket is sometimes requested. Immigration officials are strict about getting exact information about where visitors are staying. There is no fee for entering the country, but there is a departure tax. U.S. citizens entering with documents other than U.S. passports should take special care in securing those documents while traveling. It can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel.

The possession, use, or sale of non-prescription controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc., is expressly forbidden. Bring prescriptions in their original containers with prescription labels attached.

Americans living in or visiting Antigua and Barbuda are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados. Travelers may contact the Embassy to obtain updated information on travel and security within Antigua and Barbuda. The Embassy is located in the Canadian Imperial Band and Commerce (CIBC) Building on Broad Street, telephone (246) 436-4950, web site The Consular Section is located in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside, telephone (246)431-0225 or fax (246)431-0179, web site Hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, except local and U.S. holidays.

U.S. citizens may also register with the U.S. Consular Agent in Antigua, whose address is Bluff House, Pigeon Point, English Harbour, telephone (268)463-6531, fax (268)460-1569, or The Consular Agent's hours of operations are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, except local and U.S. holidays (please call for an appointment).


Only pets currently residing in Britain may be imported, accompanied by appropriate veterinary certificates, into Antigua and Barbuda. This rule offers no waivers or relaxations. Pets from the U.S. can be sent to Britain for six months' quarantine. This is, however, extremely costly. Mongrel dogs and cats abound in Antigua, and many strays need homes. Antigua has an American veterinarian. The most common endemic parasites treated are tapeworm, hookworm, and heartworm. Rabies is not present on the island.

Firearms & Ammunition

Prior approval by the Chargé d'Affaires is required to import weapons and ammunition. In addition to obtaining the prior approval of the Chargé, all authorized weapons must be registered and licensed by the Police Commissioner. Separate applications must be made for the licensing of each gun including air rifles and pellet guns. Licenses are issued for a twelve-month period.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

The official currency of Antigua is the Eastern Caribbean (XCD) dollar. All currency is graced with the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II. Paper bill denominations are in the amounts of 5, 10, 20, and 100 dollar notes. Coins are minted in 1-, 2-, 5-, 10-, and 25-cent denominations and a EC$1 coin. The official exchange rate in May 2002 was 2.70XCD to $1 U.S.

Travelers checks and major credit cards are honored at many hotels, restaurants, and most businesses. Personal checks drawn on U.S. accounts are not generally accepted.

Antigua has no personal income taxes or general sales taxes. However, hotel and restaurant bills include a 7% government tax, and many restaurants also add a 10% gratuity.

The U.S. standards of measurement are the most widely observed in daily commerce. However, since virtually everything is imported, metric units are often used in food stores and appliance centers.

Disaster Preparedness

Like all Caribbean countries, Antigua can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at


The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country: Ali, Arif. A Little Bit of Paradise,

Antigua and Barbuda. London: Hansib Publications, 1988.

Antigua & Barbuda. New York:Chelsea House, 1988.

Crewe, Quentin. Touch the Happy Isles. Terra Alta, WV: Headline Book Publishers, 1988.

Dyde, Brian. Antigua and Barbuda: The Heart of the Caribbean. London: MacMillan Caribbean, 1990.

Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: New American Library, 1989.

Michener, James A. The Caribbean. New York: Random House, 1989.

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Antigua and Barbuda




Antigua and Barbuda is located in the "Heart of the Caribbean" between the Greater and Lesser Antilles, about 402 kilometers (250 miles) east-southeast of Puerto Rico or 60 kilometers (37.5 miles) north of Guadeloupe. This territory consists of several islands, the largest being Antigua (281 square kilometers, or 108 square miles), Barbuda (161 square kilometers, or 62 square miles), and Redonda (1.6 square kilometers, or 0.5 square miles). The smaller islands include Guiana Island, Bird Island, and Long Island. The combined area of this multi-island state is 442 square kilometers (171 square miles) making the territory about 2 and a half times the size of Washington, D.C. Antigua's coastline measures 153 kilometers (95 miles). The country's capital, St. John's, is located on the northwestern coast of Antigua. The main towns include Parham and Liberta on Antigua, and Codrington on Barbuda.


As of July 2000, the population of Antigua was estimated at 66,422, which means that the 1991 population of 63,896 increased by 3.95 percent. In 2000 the birth rate was reported as 19.6 births per 1,000 population while the death rate was 5.99 deaths per 1,000 population. In 2000, it was estimated that the population was growing at a rate of 0.73 percent per annum. The population is expected to reach 82,000 by 2010. Migration has been identified as the main reason for the relatively slow population growth. The net migration rate in 2000 averaged 6.32 migrants per 1,000 population.

The population density is 150 people per square kilometer (389 per square mile). As of 1999 about 37 percent of the population lived in the urban areas. About 91 percent of the population are of African descent. Other races found in relatively small numbers include Amerindian/Carib, East Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, Lebanese, and Syrian.

Close to 67 percent of the country's population are in the age group 15-64. The population is young, with 28 percent of the population aged 0-14 years and only 5 percent aged 65 years and over. In the late 1980s, about one-fifth of all births were to mothers aged under 19 years. Hence, the government, with the aid of the UNFPA Peer Counselling and Youth Health Services Project, has been teaching teens the use of contraceptives, among other birth control techniques, in an effort to reduce teenage pregnancies.

There are about 3,000 residents of Montserrat living in Antigua and Barbuda. These persons are evacuees who fled the island because of the volcanic eruption in 1997.


Sugar production dominated the economy of Antigua and Barbuda for centuries. Sugar declined in importance after World War II and by the early 1970s it was almost irrelevant to the economy. Thereafter, islanders have dabbled in a variety of agricultural activities, but with limited rainfall there was not much success. Tourism therefore emerged as the major economic activity and, except for the ravages of hurricanes, this sector has experienced steady growth.

The economy is based on an open and free enterprise system. Since the mid-1980s there has been an upsurge of huge trade deficits , however, which have led to arrears in payments to foreign investors, which in turn reduced foreign capital inflows. In the first half of the 1990s economic growth slowed sharply (from an average of 8 percent in 1984-89 to 2 percent in 1990-95), mainly because the large public investment in tourism-related projects started in the 1980s could not be sustained.

In the late 1990s the growing offshore financial sector came under scrutiny from some European countries. The sector was affected in 1999 when the United States and United Kingdom applied sanctions on the government in an effort to compel more stringent controls on money laundering . Yet Antigua and Barbuda was not named in 2000 among the so-called "non-co-operative tax havens " by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), a 29-nation grouping of some of the world's wealthiest nations.

As the 21st century opened, tourism continued to be the mainstay of the economy, accounting for over 40 percent of GDP. Recovery in the tourism sector has resulted from rehabilitation efforts and new marketing strategies. There have also been some recent attempts to strengthen the manufacturing sector.

Overall economic growth for 1998 was 3.9 percent, and expanded to about 4.6 percent in 1999. Inflation has been moderate, averaging 3 to 4 percent annually, since 1993. It is apparent that economic growth in the medium-term will be tied to income growth in the industrialized regions, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, where most tourists originate.

Antigua and Barbuda's external debt continues to grow, increasing from US$357 million in 1998 to US$433.7 million in 1999. The large debt has had a negative effect on the economy because these loans must be repaid in a short period at very high interest rates. Debt payment accounted for 21.52 percent of the country's 2000 budget. Economic aid averages around US$2 million annually.

While most firms in Antigua and Barbuda are locally owned, overseas companies own most of the hotels. Among the largest companies are Cable and Wireless Antigua Ltd., the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), and the Antigua Brewery, which is 80 percent foreign-owned. The state-owned Central Marketing Authority regulates the importation and distribution of basic food items. There are a good number of reputable International Business Companies (IBCs) registered in Antigua, including international banks, trusts, insurance firms, and corporations.

To foster industrial development, the government has adopted a policy of providing local and foreign investors with incentives such as duty -free imports, tax holidays , and other exemptions. A recent government initiative is the establishment of a " Free Trade Zone ."


Antigua and Barbuda is a constitutional monarchy whose parliament is fashioned on the British Westminster system. The Bird family has governed the country for over 30 years. The Antigua Labour Party (ALP), first led by Vere C. Bird and then by his son Lester B. Bird, has won all but the 1971 elections since universal adult suffrage was granted in 1951. In the most recent general elections held in March 1999 the ALP captured 12 of the 17 seats, thereby increasing its majority by 1 seat. The other political parties in parliament are the United Progressive Party (UPP), led by Baldwin Spencer, with 4 seats, and the Barbuda People's Movement (BPM), led by Hilbourne Frank, with 1 seat. The other parties are the Barbuda National Party (BNP), the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), and the Barbuda Independence Movement (BIM). The next general election is due to take place by 2004.

The government appears committed to encouraging private-sector growth principally in tourism and the offshore sector. The offshore sector includes IBCs such as banks located in the host country that operate in foreign countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. IBCs opt to set up in these "tax havens" or "free zones" to benefit from the smaller rate of taxation charged there in comparison to the countries where many of their customers actually live. Moreover, the regulations governing IBCs' operation in the tax havens are often less restrictive than in the larger countries in which they also operate. The government has a policy of selling land for tourist and residential projects while it leases land for agricultural purposes.

Antigua and Barbuda has been rated as the least-taxed country in the Caribbean by a variety of regional and extra-regional financial institutions. Only 17 percent of the country's GNP comes from taxes, while other Caribbean countries get around 27 percent of their GNP from tax revenues on average. In 2000 the government introduced a new 2 percent tax on gross sales of EC$50,000 per year. This tax replaced a 25 percent business tax on profits. Some hotels had threatened to close while the commercial sector ceased importing goods from abroad, except for perishables, to cajole the government into rescinding the tax. However, the government has stood its ground. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has suggested to the government that it should introduce a value-added tax (VAT) as a step towards increasing tax revenues. There is no personal income tax in Antigua and Barbuda. While the government was reporting cash-flow problems as recently as January 2001, the prime minister has made it clear that his government will not resort to personal income tax to ease its financial problems.

The Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) assists with surveillance on drug trafficking, and recently signed an agreement with the Canadian armed forces for assistance. The U.S. Air Force has a tracking station on Antigua.


Antigua has had an impressive road network since colonial times, mainly because of its relatively flat terrain. There are in excess of 250 kilometers (155 miles) of roads, about 25 percent of which can be classified as highway. Buses usually operate on a limited service, and taxis charge fixed rates. The number of motor cars continues to grow annually as the country has one of the highest per capita incomes in the anglophone (English-speaking) Caribbean. There are 77 kilometers (48 miles) of railroad tracks in the country, used almost exclusively for transporting sugar cane.

The island's lone international airport, V. C. Bird International, is located north-east of St. John's. It is serviced by several international airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Air Canada, Air France, and BWIA. Antigua also has an excellent seaport which accommodates containerized cargo with state-of-the-art

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Antigua & Barbuda 28,000 (1996) 1,300 (1996) AM 4; FM 2; shortwave 0 36,000 2 31,000 16 8,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Jamaica 353,000 (1996) 54,640 (1996) AM 10; FM 13; shortwave 0 1.215 M 7 460,000 21 60,000
St. Lucia 37,000 1,600 AM 2; FM 7; shortwave 0 111,000 3 32,000 15 5,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

equipment. Heritage Quay pier in St. John's was constructed solely to accommodate cruise ships.

Electricity is produced by the state-owned Antigua Public Utility Authority (APUA). In 1999 the company produced 90 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). All electricity is produced from oil as the island does not have hydro plants or any other type of generation plants.

Domestic telecommunications services are provided by the APUA while the British-based multi-national Cable and Wireless, through Cable and Wireless Antigua Ltd., provides international telecommunications services. In 1994 it was estimated that the country had about 20,000 telephone lines in use. International traffic is moved via a submarine fibre optic cable as well as an Intelsat earth station. Cable and Wireless, through its Carib-surf subsidiary, is the main Internet service provider with about 6,000 Internet subscribers. In January 2001, Antigua Computer Technology (ACT) was launched as the second Internet service provider with a start-up capacity to connect at least 1,000 subscribers. The country has 2 television broadcast stations and an estimated 31,000 television sets.


The services sector, in particular tourism and offshore financial services, dominate the economy. Consequently, the economy is heavily dependent on visitor arrivals from the United States and the United Kingdom. In fact, between January and September 2000 the pace of economic activity was much slower compared to the similar period for 1999, principally because of a decline in the number of visitors. However, it is expected that a marketing effort to be funded by the government and private sector will lead to an increase in stay-over arrivals from North America and Europe (particularly the United Kingdom) in 2001 and beyond. A major threat to tourism has been hurricane and storm damage from 1994 to 1999.


The collapse of the sugar industry in the 1970s left the government in control of 60 percent of Antigua's 66,000 acres of sugar cane plantations. The main agricultural exports include cotton to Japan and fruit and vegetables to other Caribbean territories. Hot peppers and vegetables are exported to the United Kingdom and Canada. Other agriculture products are bananas, coconuts, cucumbers, mangoes, livestock, and pineapples.

Agriculture accounts for a rather insignificant part of the economy, making up 4 percent in 1996 and falling to 3.6 percent in 1998. According to the Americas Review 1999, there were 2,000 persons employed in agriculture in 1999. However, it appears that cultivation is on the rise. In 1998 there were 279.8 acres of land planted with vegetables. In 1999 there were 340.1 acres under cultivation, 73.3 acres of which were planted with onions. In 1999 alone some 319,275 pounds of vegetables were produced. The government has received the assistance of the European Development Fund to develop the livestock subsector.

Problems confronting the agricultural sector include soil depletion and drought. Antigua does not have any rivers and is short on groundwater. Consequently, drinking water is collected from rainfall or imported from neighboring territories. Several hotels have seawater desalination facilities. The state also supplements its water distribution service with desalinated water.

Some 3 million pounds of fish are caught per year, according to 1997 figures. At that time Barbuda alone was exporting 260,000 pounds of lobster annually. Fish hauls increased in 1998, an indication that this sector has recovered significantly from hurricane damage sustained between 1995 and 1998. The East Caribbean Central Bank reported in 1999 that fish as well as crop production were the main contributors to agriculture in 1999. There are a few shrimp and lobster farms on Antigua. In addition, the Smithsonian Institute runs a project which farms Caribbean king crabs for domestic consumption.



Manufacturing is not a major contributor to the economy. However, output from manufacturing rose by 5.5 percent in 1998 and 5 percent in 1999. Between 1996 and 1998, manufacturing contributed an average of just over 2 percent of GDP.

An industrial park located at Coolidge near the V. C. Bird International airport produces exports such as paints, galvanized sheets, furniture, paper products, and the assembly of household appliances, vehicles, and garments. Local manufacturers are provided with incentives such as tax and duty-free concessions.

Manufacturers can export to the United States, European, Canadian, and Caribbean markets as a result of trade agreements such as the Lomé Convention, the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM).

In 1999 the government signed an agreement with the People's Republic of China to use local cotton in the manufacture of textiles for the export market. A factory is to be constructed to facilitate this project.


Much of the buoyancy in the economy over the last few years has been due to the steady growth in the construction sector. Private and government investments have facilitated this growth. Construction contributed on average 11 percent of GDP between 1996 and 1998.



Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Antigua and Barbuda and is the leading sector in terms of providing employment and creating foreign exchange. In 1999 it contributed 60 percent of GDP and more than half of all jobs. According to the Americas Review 1998, tourism contributed 15 percent directly and around 40 percent indirectly to the GDP in 1998. Real growth in this sector has moved from an average of 7 percent for the period 1985-89 to 8.24 percent for the period 1990-95. There was slow growth between 1995 and 1998.

Figures released by the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in 2000 show that total visitor arrivals increased steadily from 470,975 in 1995 to 613,990 in 1998. In 1999 total visitor arrivals declined by about 4.1 percent to 588,866, yet the number of visitors staying at least 1 night or more increased by 1.9 percent over 1998 to total 207,862. Arrivals via cruise ships in 1999 dropped to 325,195, a fall of 3.4 percent over 1998. The fall-off in cruise passengers was mainly the result of one of the larger cruise ships being out of service for a brief period. Most of the tourists in 1999 came from the United Kingdom and the United States. Visitor expenditures have increased steadily since 1990, with total expenditures of EC$782.9 million.

To combat increasing competition from other Caribbean destinations, the government and the Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association have established a joint fund to market the country's appeal as a tourist destination. The Association has agreed to match the proceeds from a 2 percent hotel guest levy introduced by the government.

At the start of March 2001, the Antigua Workers Union (AWU), the trade union which represents close to 7,000 workers in the tourism industry, described tourism as an industry in crisis. The AWU claimed the industry is on the decline because some airlines are pulling out of the country, and government was not spending enough money to promote tourism. While the government has conceded that it was not spending enough on marketing because of cash flow problems, it has rejected the AWU's contention that the industry is in crisis.


Antigua and Barbuda is advertised as "an attractive offshore jurisdiction." The country was the first to sign the United Nations' anti-money laundering pact. This agreement came out of a conference in 1999 which urged worldwide offshore financial centers to introduce laws to tighten their policing of money laundering activities. The United Kingdom exerted considerable pressure on Antigua and Barbuda to reform laws to combat money laundering, even issuing an advisory in April 1999 to British financial institutions that Antigua and Barbuda's anti-money laundering laws were wanting. Antigua and Barbuda responded to this concern, and a subsequent joint United States and United Kingdom review reported they were satisfied that the country had taken positive steps to check illegal activity in this sector. In September 2000 the government of Antigua and Barbuda announced that it had strengthened its surveillance of money laundering and drug trafficking.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Antigua & Barbuda
Exports Imports
1975 .020 .067
1980 .026 .088
1985 .017 .166
1990 .021 .255
1995 .030 .299
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Antigua & Barbuda
East Caribbean dollars (EC$) per US$1
2001 2.7000
2000 2.7000
1999 2.7000
1998 2.7000
1997 2.7000
1996 2.7000
Note: The exchange rate has been fixed since 1976.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

RETAIL. The retail sector is dominated by the sale of food and beverages, clothing and textiles, and vegetables. The main markets are located in the capital, St. John's. There are many street vendors and duty-free shops. The government has been taking steps to improve this sector. A US$43.5 million vendors' mall and market has been built to provide better facilities for retailers in the capital. In addition, a US$27 million fisheries complex now provides improved facilities for fish processing and retailing. A growing area of computer business on Antigua is Internet casinos.


This small multi-island state imports most of its food as well as other goods that it does not manufacture. In 1998 the value of imports was as much as 9 times the value of exports. In 1998 total exports amounted to US$38 million while imports stood at US$330 million.

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) comprised 26 percent of the country's exports, Barbados took in 15 percent, Guyana 4 percent, and Trinidad and Tobago 2 percent. The United States imported only .03 percent. Of imports, some 27 percent came from the United States, 16 percent from the United Kingdom, 4 percent from Canada, and 3 percent from the OECS.

The country is a party to several trade agreements, including the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) with the United States, Caribcan with Canada, the Lomé Convention (a cooperation agreement between the EU and the ACP, the latter consisting of several African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries), and the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM).


The exchange rate of the East Caribbean dollar has remained steady since 1976 at 2.70 to the U.S. dollar. This is partly because the agreement establishing the East Caribbean Central Bank, which regulates the currency, requires all countries that use the currency to agree to de-valuation .

The country does not have its own stock exchange. Instead, it is part of the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE). An associate institution of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the ECSE is scheduled to start trading in 2001. The fully automated exchange will be linked via local telecommunications providers and will employ an electronic book-entry system for recording the ownership of securities.

To assist with its development, the ECSE has received US$2 million in grants, counter-part loans, and money from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The funds were channeled through the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).


According to Sub-Regional Common Assessment of Barbados and the OECS, some 12 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in the 1990s. This is much less than the average in the eastern Caribbean. Research has shown that the level of poverty was 17 percent in Grenada in 1998, 19 percent in St. Lucia in 1995, and 31 percent in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1996. About 35 percent of the eastern Caribbean is classified as poor (i.e., people in these countries earn less than

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Antigua & Barbuda N/A 4,057 5,164 6,980 8,559
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
St. Lucia N/A 2,076 2,150 3,542 3,907
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Antigua & Barbuda 36 3 8 3 18 9 23
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Jamaica 24 7 3 1 9 8 48
St. Lucia 40 5 11 4 17 11 11
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

US$15-25 per day). Indicators point to the possibility of increasing poverty in Antigua unless the slowdown in the economy is reversed and more employment is provided.

The GDP per capita in 1998 was US$8,559. The Human Development Report 2000 gave Antigua and Barbuda a Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of 37th among the United Nations' 174 members. The HDI is computed by the UN and ranks its member nations based on an index which takes into account a country's health-care system, life expectancy, school enrollment, adult literacy rate, educational attainment, and per capita income to arrive at a score.

Antigua and Barbuda enjoys one of the highest employment rates in the Caribbean, and the second-highest wages and salaries per capita in the region. Life expectancy in 1999 was 75 years, about the same as in the United States.

The population benefits from national insurance and contributory pension schemes. Poor and elderly persons receive public assistance. The Antigua Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) provides medical benefits to workers who contribute to it. However, at the beginning of 2001, the government was pressured to investigate alleged financial wrong-doing at the MBS. This has weakened confidence in the scheme. Workers are increasingly questioning the ability of the scheme to adequately finance health care in light of the charges of financial wrongdoing.

The government has operated a series of statewide free health clinics since the colonial period and these have expanded in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the government intends to introduce minimum user fees, it has promised to make provisions for the poor. The government also provides education at all levels.


The total active labor force in 1998 was about 30,000. Of this figure 8,319 were immigrant workers. In 1998 the government employed 10,984 persons, or about 38.3 percent of the total labor force, a trend that has gone as far back as 1994.

The unemployment rate fell from 9 percent in 1997 to 5 percent in 1998. During the latter part of 2000, the government announced a freeze on employment after cash flow problems made it difficult for it to meet its wage and pension bills, which amount to as much as US$5.1 million monthly.

The lowest age for employment is age 16. Children do not form part of the labor force, but they usually assist on family agricultural plots in the afternoon after school and during school vacations. The government has a youth skills training program which provides on-thejob training.

As much as 45.5 percent of the country's workforce are women. More significantly, close to 60 percent of all public sector employees are women. Most women who work are employed in the hotel industry and in teaching.

The leading trade unions in Antigua and Barbuda are the Antigua Workers' Union, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers, and the Leeward Islands Air Line Pilots' Association. A 1975 labor code governs labor relations in the country. There was some industrial unrest in the airline industry and commercial sector during 1999 and 2000.

In 1997 the government granted public sector workers a 6 percent increase in wages and salaries for the period 1997-2000. In 1998 private sector workers had wage increases averaging around 4 percent. These wage hikes were long overdue and were granted to meet the rise in the cost of living.


1632. English settlers arrive from St. Kitts and colonization begins.

1674. The first large-scale sugar plantation established.

1736. Major slave uprising led by Prince Klaas.

1834. Complete freedom granted to slaves.

1939. The first trade union is formed on advice of British officials.

1943. Vere C. Bird becomes president of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union.

1951. Universal adult suffrage introduced; the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) led by Vere C. Bird comes to power.

1967. Antigua, Barbuda, and Redonda become an associated state with Britain.

1971. ALP voted out of office.

1972. Sugar industry goes into dormancy.

1974. Antigua and Barbuda joins CARICOM.

1976. ALP returned to office.

1981. Antigua and Barbuda obtains its political independence from Britain.

1994. Vere C. Bird hands over ALP to his son, Lester Bird.

1995-99. Series of hurricanes damage the islands' infrastructure .


The government has pointed to the need for new and varied sources of revenue, especially since the tourism industry is likely to face competition in the not too distant future from Cuba, which has larger hotels, good facilities, and is located closer to the United States. There is also the threat posed by the OECD to the offshore finance sector. This organization has placed enormous pressure on the government to tighten its regulatory control over the sector and such action could result in its stagnation.

The IMF has recommended that the country adopt a comprehensive macro-economic program with medium-to long-term plans for improving government finances. The government fears that an IMF Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), which advocates cutting down the size of the public sector, will lead to unemployment, which in turn can lead to poverty and crime. Thus, the government has declined to participate in the IMF program and has instead opted to devise its own economic restructuring program with the aid of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

With its cash flow problems, Antigua and Barbuda may reduce the size of the public sector, which presently employs close to 11,000 persons. It may also take at least some of the IMF's advice and toughen its fiscal policy , implement reforms to increase efficiency and governance in the public sector, and work out a suitable repayment plan with its creditors. With revenue being lost through reduced tariffs , the administration may be looking to the VAT to fill the gap. However, government officials have hinted that the 2001 national budget, to be presented to Parliament in March of that year, will include reductions in duty-free concessions in an effort to address the cash-flow problem. In 2000 close to US$37 million was granted in such concessions.


Antigua and Barbuda has no territories or colonies.


The Americas Review, 17th edition. New Jersey: Hunter, 1998; 18th edition, 1999.

Antigua and Barbuda: Statistical Annex. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 1999. <>. Accessed August 2001.

Caribbean Development Bank Annual Report 1999. Bridgetown, Barbados: Caribbean Development Bank, 1999.

The Caribbean Handbook 2000. St. John's, Antigua: FT International, 2000.

East Caribbean Central Bank Economic and Financial Review. Vol. 20, No. 3, September 2000.

East Caribbean Central Bank Report. St. Kitts, West Indies: ECCB, 2000.

"Small States, Big Money." The Economist. September 23, 2000.

"Sub-Regional Common Assessment of Barbados and the OECS: The UN Development System for the Eastern Caribbean, January 2000." United Nations Development Programme for Barbados and the OECS. <>. Accessed August 2001.

United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed August 2001.

Cleve Mc D. Scott


St. John's.


East Caribbean dollar (EC$). One Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) equals 100 cents. Paper currency comes in denominations of EC$100, 50, 20, 10, and 5. Coins are in denominations of EC$1, and 50, 25, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cents.


Petroleum products, manufactures, food and live animals, machinery and transport equipment.


Food and live animals, machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, oil.


US$524 million (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$38 million (1998 est.). Imports: US$330 million (1998 est.).

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Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Official name: Antigua and Barbuda

Area: 440 square kilometers (170 square miles) total area; Antigua, 280 square kilometers (108 square miles); Barbuda, 161 square kilometers (62 square miles); Redonda, 1.3 square kilometers(5 square miles)

Highest point on mainland : Boggy Peak (402 meters/1,319 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres : Northern and Western

Time zone: 8 a.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 14.4 kilometers (9 miles) from east to west; 22.4 kilometers (14 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries : No international boundaries

Coastline: 153 kilometers (95 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles); exclusive economic zone: 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles)


Antigua and Barbuda, a dependency of the United Kingdom, is part of the Leeward Islands, in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. Its total area, which is nearly two-andone-half times that of Washington, D.C., includes the islands of Antigua (280 square kilometers/108 square miles) and Barbuda (161 square kilometers/62 square miles), and the uninhabited island of Redondo (1.3 square kilometers/5 square miles). The country is divided into six parishes.


Antigua and Barbuda has no territories or dependencies.


Temperatures average 29°C (84°F) in July and 24°C (75°F) in January, a result of the cooling trade winds from the east and northeast. Rainfall averages 117 centimeters (46 inches) per year, with September through November being the wettest months. The islands are subject to both the occasional summer drought and autumn hurricanes, although the low humidity gives them one of the most temperate climates in the world.

Season Months Average Temperature: °C (°F)
Summer April to October 2430°C (7586°F)
Winter November to March 2227°C (7281°F)


Antigua, the largest of the British Leeward Islands, is partly volcanic and partly coral in makeup. Many islets line its northeastern coast, and its central area is a fertile plain. Barbuda is a coral island. Redonda is a rocky, low-lying islet.


Antigua and Barbuda is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The open Atlantic Ocean lies to the north and east. The island of Guadeloupe lies to the south, on the far side of the Guadeloupe Passage from Antigua.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

There are many coral reefs near Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua is surrounded by an almost continuous band of coral. Devil's Bridge, an unusual formation on Antigua's northeastern shore, is a natural arch created by the erosion of limestone over time.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The coastline of Antigua features many small bays.

Islands and Archipelagos

Redonda, a rocky outcropping less than two square kilometers (less than one square mile) in area, lies 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Antigua. Redonda is uninhabited. Guiana Island, a tiny island off the northeast coast of Antigua, provides a forest habitat for a number of nesting bird species.

Coastal Features

Antigua and Barbuda is famous for its beaches, particularly those on Antigua itself. When advertising to attract vacationers, the country claims it has 365 beaches.

Antigua has deeply indented shores lined by shoals and reefs, with many natural harbors. Barbuda has large stretches of both white and pink sand beaches. Codrington Lagoon, enclosed by a narrow finger of land that stretches northward, lies in northwest Barbuda.


Antigua and Barbuda lacks any lakes of significant size.


Antigua and Barbuda lacks any large rivers.


There are no deserts on Antigua and Barbuda.


Antigua has a central plain that is relatively fertile due to the volcanic ash in the soil. Like other parts of the island with the same soil composition, it supports some agriculture, as well as tropical vegetation.


Antigua is a partly volcanic island, but there have been no eruptions in recent history. Its highest elevations are in the southwestern part of the island. This is where Boggy Peak (402 meters/1,319 feet), the tallest mountain on the island, is located. There are no significant elevations on either Barbuda or Redonda.


There are a number of large caves, both above and under ground, on Barbuda, including an underground cave that extends for 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) at Two Foot Bay.


There are no plateaus or monoliths on Antigua and Barbuda.


There are no significant man-made features affecting the geography of Antigua and Barbuda.


The Frigate Bird Sanctuary, in Barbuda's Codrington Lagoon, is home to more than 170 bird species, including its namesake, the frigate bird (fregata magnificens ).



Corum, Robert. Caribbean Time Bomb; the United States' Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua. New York: Morrow, 1993.

Dyde, Brian. Antigua and Barbuda; the Heart of the Caribbean. Macmillan Caribbean Guides. London: Macmillan, 1993.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Background Notes. Antigua and Barbuda. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 2001.

Vaitilingham, Adam. Antigua:The Mini Rough Guide. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Web Sites

Welcome to Antigua and Barbuda. (accessed June 5, 2003).

Official Travel Guide. (accessed June 5, 2003).

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Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Antigua and Barbuda
Region (Map name): Caribbean
Population: 66,422
Language(s): English
Literacy rate: 89%

The Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, located east-southeast of Puerto Rico between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981. The government is a constitutional monarchy. Great Britain appoints a Governor General, who in turn appoints a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister presides over a Senate and a House of Representatives. The population is estimated at 65,000 with an 89-percent literacy rate. English is the official language, but many local dialects are spoken. Tourism is by far the largest source of revenue, accounting for more than half of the gross domestic product. Remaining revenue comes from agriculture, fishing and light industry. Efforts to develop an offshore financial sector have been stymied by sanctions and money laundering scandals.

Although the constitution guarantees press freedom, the media industry is nearly entirely controlled by the Prime Minister or members of his family. When one of the country's daily newspapers, the Daily Observer, started a radio station that aired political messages from the opposition, the editor and publisher were arrested for operating a radio station without a license. Print media, however, is generally allowed to operate unhindered. The country's press center is Antigua, which at just over 100 square miles is nearly double the size of Barbuda and claims 98 percent of the population. Every major newspaper publishes from its capital, St. John's. There are two dailies, the Antigua Sun and the Daily Observer, both of which are available online. Weekly publications include The Nation's Voice, The Outlet, and The Worker's Voice.

There are six radio stations, four AM and two FM, serving 36,000 radios. Two television stations broadcast to 31,000 televisions. Sixteen Internet service providers provide online access.


"Antigua and Barbuda," CIA World Fact Book 2001. Available from

"Antigua and Barbuda," U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001. Available from

"Antigua and Barbuda," The World Press Freedom Review 2001. Available from

Antigua Daily Observer, 2002 Home Page. Available from

Antigua Sun, 2002 Home Page. Available from

Benn's Media, 1999, Vol. 3, 147th Edition, p. 246.

Jenny B. Davis

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Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda (ăntē´gə, –gwə, bärbu´də), independent Commonwealth nation (2005 est. pop. 68,700), 171 sq mi (442 sq km), West Indies, in the Leeward Islands. It consists of the island of Antigua (108 sq mi/280 sq km) and two smaller islands, the more sparsely populated Barbuda (62 sq mi/161 sq km) and uninhabited Redonda (0.6 sq mi/1.6 sq km). Saint John's, on Antigua, is the capital. Antigua is a hilly island with a heavily indented coast, while Barbuda is a flat coral island dominated by a large lagoon on its western side. Most residents are of African ancestry. Anglicanism is the predominant religion. Tourism is the most important industry, and the on-line gambling and offshore financial services sectors generate additional foreign currency earnings. The last two sectors have been hurt, however, by a 2006 U.S. ban on the processing of payments to on-line gambling firms and by the 2009 collapse, due to fraud, of the bank that was the nation's largest employer. Agriculture, fishing, and manufacturing (bedding, handicrafts, and electronics) also contribute to the economy. There is a U.S. air force tracking station on the north coast of Antigua. Periodic hurricanes can cause heavy damage to the islands. The country has a parliamentary-style government with a bicameral legislature. The British monarch is the titular head of state, but primary executive power lies with the prime minister. Many inhabitants of Barbuda, culturally and politically distinct from Antiguans, have pressed for independence from the larger island.


Antigua was sighted by Columbus in 1493 and named for a Spanish church in Seville. The islands were successfully colonized in 1632, when the British introduced sugarcane from St. Kitts. Barbuda was colonized from Antigua in 1661. The abolition of slavery in 1834 hurt the sugar industry; sugar has not been commercially grown on the island since 1985.

Antigua, with Barbuda and Redonda as dependencies, became an associated state of the Commonwealth in 1967 and achieved full independence within the Commonwealth in 1981. The Labor party, and the Bird family, led the nation in its first decades. Vere Bird was the nation's first prime minister and was succeeded by Lester Bird, his son, in 1994. The islands suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Luis in 1995. Six consecutive terms of Labor governments ended in 2004 when the United Progressive party (UPP) won the election; Baldwin Spencer became prime minister. Spencer and the UPP remained in power after the 2009 election.

In 2009 allegations that American financier Allen Stanford had been running a Ponzi scheme had a significant effect on the country. The Stanford Financial Group was based there; it and its affiliates employed many inhabitants; and the government had received substantial loans from the group while the Birds were in power. A run on Stanford's banks led the government to seize them; other Stanford properties were also seized. The 2014 elections resulted in a Labor victory, and Gaston Browne became prime minister.

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Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda Caribbean islands in the Leeward Islands group, part of the Lesser Antilles. The capital is St John's (on Antigua). Antigua is atypical of the Leeward Islands in that, despite its height – rising to 405m (1328ft) – it has no rivers or forests; Barbuda, in contrast, is a wooded, low coral atoll. Only 1400 people live on the game reserve island of Barbuda, where lobster fishing is the main occupation, and none on the rocky island of Redondo. Antigua and Barbuda were linked by Britain after 1860, gained internal self-government in 1967, and independence in 1981. The islands are dependent on tourism, though some attempts at diversification (notably Sea Island cotton) have been successful. Other industries: livestock rearing, market gardening, fishing. Area: 440sq km (170sq mi). Pop. (2000) 65,000. See West Indies map;

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Antigua And Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Culture Name

Antiguan; Antiguan creole; creole; Barbudan


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 kilometers) while Barbuda, or Wa'omoni, is 62 square miles (160 square kilometers) in area, making for a twin island microstate of 170 square miles (440 square kilometers). 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 kilometers) long, producing hundreds of beautiful white sand 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 northwestern 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 and distinct creole formations (gee = give) or distinct usages of English words. As one moves up the class hierarchy, there is a gradual shift from creole to English as the first language.

Symbolism. The cultural symbols that embody the national identity of Antigua and Barbuda emerged out of the anticolonial struggles for political independence, which began in the 1930s. Consequently these symbols tend to be images that celebrate liberation from a number of oppressive conditions and periods in the history of the nation: the ending of slavery in 1834, the rise of the labor movement in the 1930s, the revival of African elements in the national culture during the 1960s, and the still ongoing enhancing of the nation's creole culture vis-á-vis Western and particularly British and American culture. Good examples of these symbols are the national anthem, the flag, and the national coats of arm, which display the sun, a pineapple, and the flowers and seas of the state. They can also be seen in more fleeting form in festivals such as carnival.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The emergence of Antigua and Barbuda as an independent nation was the result of the confluence of a number of international currents with the local struggles for decolonization. The turning point in this history of anticolonial struggle was the series of peasant/worker insurrections that occurred in the Caribbean between 1935 and 1939, with the latter year being the one in which Antiguan and Barbuduan workers and peasants revolted. Out of this revolt came the formation of the Antigua Trades Labor Union (ATLU) in 1939. The need for such an organization was recognized by several individualsa group that included Harold Wilson, Norris Allen, Reginald Stevens, and V. C. Bird. Allen took the lead by calling the meeting at which the union was formed. Stevens was its first president and Berkeley Richards its first general secretary.

As the union got more deeply involved in the struggles of workers against sugar plantation owners, it became increasingly political. It very quickly developed a "political arm," which later became the Antigua Labor Party (ALP). This radicalization increased under the leadership of Bird, the ATLU's second president. Bird vigorously pushed a heady mix of laborism and state capitalism that came to be known locally as milk and water socialism.

Further, through its political arm, the ATLU began successfully contesting the small number of seats in the legislature that were elective. The resulting acquisition of a measure of state power changed the balance of forces in the struggles of workers with plantation owners. Between 1940 and 1951, universal adult suffrage and self-government became high-priority demands of the union. From this point on the labor movement could not be distinguished from the nationalist movement. This politicization led to new rounds of strikes and political confrontations with the planters and the elites of the colonial state. These struggles, reinforced by those in other Caribbean territories, by the struggles in African countries, and by the opposition of the United States and Russia to European colonial policies, finally pushed the British to dismantle their empire. The dismantling was executed via a process of constitutional decolonization that gradually transferred sovereignty to a set of elected leaders such as those of the ALP. Between 1950 and 1981, when Antigua and Barbuda achieved independence from Britain, there were at least five important sets of decolonizing constitutional changes that paved the way to national independence. As the leader of the ALP, Bird was the nation's first prime minister.

Ethnic Relations. Behind the late twentieth century reviving and respecifying of the place of Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans in the cultural life of the society, is a history of race/ethnic relations that systematically excluded them. Within the colonial framework established by the British soon after their initial settlement of Antigua in 1623, five distinct and carefully ranked race/ethnic groups emerged. At the top of this hierarchy were the British, who justified their hegemony with arguments of white supremacy and civilizing missions. Among themselves, there were divisions between British Antiguans and noncreolized Britons, with the latter coming out on top. In short, this was a race/ethnic hierarchy that gave maximum recognition to Anglicized persons and cultural practices.

Immediately below the British were the mulattos, a mixed race group that resulted from unions between black Africans and white Europeans. Mulattos were lighter in shade than the masses of black Africans, and on that basis distinguished themselves from the latter. They developed complex ideologies of shade to legitimate their claims to higher status. These ideologies of shade paralleled in many ways British ideologies of white supremacy.

Next in this hierarchy were the Portuguese twenty-five hundred of whom migrated as workers from Madeira between 1847 and 1852 because of a severe famine. Many established small businesses and joined the ranks of the mulatto middle class. The British never really considered Portuguese as whites and so they were not allowed into their ranks. Among Portuguese Antiguans and Barbudans, status differences move along a continuum of varying degrees of assimilation into the Anglicized practices of the dominant group.

Below the Portuguese were the Middle Easterners, who began migrating to Antigua and Barbuda around the turn of the twentieth century. Starting as itinerant traders, they soon worked their way into the middle strata of the society. Although Middle Easterners came from a variety of areas in the Middle East, as a group they are usually referred to as Syrians.

Fifth and finally were the Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans who were located at the bottom of this hierarchy. Forced to "emigrate" as slaves, Africans started arriving in Antigua and Barbuda in large numbers during the 1670s. Very quickly they came to constitute the majority of the population. As they entered this hierarchy, Africans were profoundly racialized. They ceased being Yoruba, Igbo, or Akan and became Negroes or Blacks. This racialization biologized African identities, dehumanizing and deculturing them in the process. As Negroes, it was the body and particularly its skin color that emerged as the new signifiers of identity. As a result, Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans were reinscribed in a dehumanized and racialized discourse that established their inferiority, and hence the legitimacy of their earlier enslavement and later exploitation as wage laborers.

In the last decade, Spanish-speaking immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Afro-Caribbea immigrants from Guyana and Dominica have been added to this ethnic mosaic. They have entered at the bottom of the hierarchy and it is still too early to predict what their patterns of assimilation and social mobility will be.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Antigua and Barbuda has long imported most of its food, so it is not surprising that the food eaten by Antiguans and Barbudans consists of creole dishes or specialties that reflect the cuisine of the parent cultures. In recent years, there has been a strong invasion of American fast-food chains, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Among the more established creole specialties of Antigua and Barbuda are rice pudding, salt fish and antrobers (eggplant; the national breakfast), bull foot soup, souse, maw, goat water, cockle (clam) water, conch water, and Dukuna. The salted cod used in making the national breakfast is not a local fish. It is an import from the United States and Canada that has been imported since before the revolt of the American colonies.

Major Industries. Sugar dominated the economy of Antigua and Barbuda for much of its history. The period of sugar dominance began in the 1660s after the failure of attempts to make money from tobacco. Between 1700 and 1775, Antigua and Barbuda emerged as a classic sugar colony. Because of its exclusive specialization in sugar, the economy was not very diverse. Consequently, it imported a lot, including much of its food from the American colonies and Britain.

After 1775, the economy entered a long period of decline that ended almost two centuries later in 1971. The revolt of the American colonies (1776), the suspension of the British slave trade (1804), the British vote to end slavery (1834), and the British conversion to free trade (1842) all combined to destroy the foundations of the sugar-based economy. The American revolution took away Antigua and Barbuda's cheap food supplies, the changes in British slave policies cut off its labor supplies, while the changes in trade policy took away its guaranteed market. The result was a decline from which sugar never really recovered, along with the need for a new leading sector.

Concerted efforts at industrialization in the 1940s and 1950s failed. Attracted to Antigua and Barbuda's many beaches, white sands, and sunny climate, wealthy Americans found it a great place to vacation. Out of this demand, tourism emerged as the new leading and rapidly growing sector of the economy. In 1958 tourist arrivals totaled 12,853; by 1970, on the eve of sugar's demise, they had risen to 67,637. In 1998 tourist arrivals reached 204,000. The impact of tourism on the growth of the national economy has been significant. In 1973 the gross domestic product (GDP) of the economy was US $73.3 million. By 1998 the GDP had reached US $423 million. In 1973 the hotel and restaurant sector accounted for 7.9 percent of the nation's GDP. By 1979, the figure had doubled to 14 percent, where it remained into the twenty-first century.

In spite of the growth in tourism and its expansive impact on the construction and transportation sectors, the economy is still not diversified. As in the sugar period, there is an overspecialization that keeps imports high, including food. By the late 1980s, the environmental impact of tourism had become a major political issue, with groups of environmentalists blocking the construction of new hotels.

The newest emerging sector is offshore banking. Because of the secretive and confidential aspects of this industry, it is emerging under clouds of controversy. The government, however, is committed, to its development.

The currency of Antigua and Barbuda is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, which has had a fairly steady exchange rate of approximately 2.70 with the U.S. dollar.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Like many other Caribbean societies, Antigua and Barbuda is a classic case of the superimposition of race on class and vice versa. Consequently, the class structure reflects very much the race/ethnic hierarchy described earlier. Until the rise of the nationalist movement, the dominant class was clearly the British sugar planters. They monopolized the labor of the masses of Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans, who also constituted the subordinate working class. Between these two extremes was a middle class that consisted of the same three groups that occupied the middle layers of the race/ethnic hierarchythe mulattos, Portuguese, and Syrians. The mulattos dominated the professions (law, medicine, and architecture) and the white-collar positions in banks, businesses, and the civil service. Some engaged in small enterprises, but this was primarily a white-collar/professional class. The Portuguese located themselves in the service areas of the retail sector, importing and reselling a wide variety of goods. Consequently, their stores varied from liquor shops, through groceries and gas stations, to stationery stores. Syrians were also in the retail sector importing primarily dry goods such as cloth, clothes, and other household items. Thus unlike the British planters, the latter two groups included small to medium capitalists, who employed small numbers of Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan workers.

In the postcolonial period, there have been significant changes in this class structure even though its basic categories and rank orderings have remained. At the top, hotel owners and offshore bankers have replaced the planters. These are primarily white Americans, with British investors regaining some ground. At the bottom is a working class that is still predominantly Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan. Because of recent changes in immigration policies, however, significant numbers of Afro-Guyanese and Afro-Dominican workers have been added to the ranks of this class. Thus the bottom of the class hierarchy remains primarily black even though the work has shifted from plantations to hotels.

Important changes have also occurred in the middle levels of the class hierarchy. This layer has ceased to be a predominantly mulatto class and has become one that is predominantly black. This shift was a direct consequence of changes in patterns of black social mobility produced by black control of the decolonized state. Nevertheless, the middle class still retains its mulatto, Portuguese, and Syrian components.

Political Life

Government. The political institutions of Antigua and Barbuda have gone through three basic stages: a period of colonial plantocratic democracy (16231868), a phase of colonial authoritarianism (18681939), and a period of liberal democracy (1940 present). Since the enactment of universal suffrage in 1951, elections have been contested every five years without major interruptions. But because of informal pressures and ways of accumulating power, the political system has oscillated between periods of one-party and two-party dominance, with the latter occurring from 1943 to 1967, and the former in two periods: 19681980 and 1992 to the present.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Families in Antigua and Barbuda are creole formations. Among the white upper class creolization is minimal. Patterns of marriage, family organization, and gender roles are similar to those in the West with minor local adaptations. Much the same is true of the middle classes except for the greater presence of local adaptations. Among the black working class, family life is much more a mixture of the African and European systems. Although the institutions of bridewealth (marriage payments) and lineage groups have been lost, the African view of marriage as a process occurring over many years has been retained. Without the sanction of bridewealth, family for a young couple begins in what have been called visiting relationships, which often become coresidential, and may finally issue in a formal marriage ceremony that is Christian. Like many African families, these creole families are matrifocal, centering on the mother's lineage, with strong traditions of women working outside of the home. There are, as a result, very high rates of labor force participation for Antiguan and Barbudan women.


Religious Beliefs. The religious life of Antiguans and Barbudans is predominantly Christian. In 1991, 32 percent of the population was Anglican, 12 percent was Moravian, 10 percent was Catholic, and 9 percent Methodist. This Christian orientation, however, is a creolized one that changes as we move up the class hierarchy. For most of their history, the churches of Antigua and Barbuda were colonial institutionsoverseas branches of England-based churches, whose pastors were in control. Thus, unlike the African American church, the Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan church does not have a long history of autonomous development. Autonomy came with the independence of the state.

In spite of this Anglicization, religious practices have not escaped creolization. Among Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans, traces of the African religious heritage have survived in the practice of Obeah and in inclinations toward more ecstatic modes of worship. The postcolonial period has witnessed a significant creolizing of church music, which has been influenced by calypso, reggae, and African American gospel music.

The Arts and Humanities

The more developed art forms of Antigua and Barbuda are mas (street theater), theater, calypso, steel band, architecture, poetry, and fiction. Less well developed are the arts of painting, sculpture, and carving. In the case of the more developed art forms, processes of cultural hybridization have successfully produced distinct creole formations that are expressively linked to the subjectivity and rituals of Antiguans and Barbudans.

Literature. In the area of fiction and poetry, writers include Jamaica Kincaid, Ralf Prince, Elaine Olaoye, and Dorbrene Omard.

Performance Arts. Good examples of distinct creole formations are calypso and steel band. Set to a distinct rhythmic beat, calypsos are songs of social commentary that range from the comic to the tragic. One of the major consequences of decolonization on this art form has been its expansion to include religious themes and situations. Among the calypso kings of Antigua and Barbuda are Short Shirt, Swallow, Obstinate, Onyan, and Smarty Jr.

One of the few musical instruments invented in the twentieth century, steel bands consist of a number of "pans"base pans, tenor pans, etc. They are made by pounding the basic notes out of the surface of steel drums used to transport oil. Bands range in size from about ten to one hundred pans. Developed first in Trinidad in the 1930s, the tradition spread quickly to Antigua and Barbuda. Well-known steel bands from Antigua and Barbuda include Brute Force, Hells Gate, Harmonites, Supa Stars, and Halcyon.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The sciences are not well developed in Antigua and Barbuda. Natural sciences such as physics and chemistry are particularly weak. This is also true for the larger Caribbean region. The practice of science in the region is located primarily at the University of the West Indies, whose main campuses are in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados. The university's extramural department, however, has a branch in Antigua, where the first year of the bachelor's degree in some of the social sciences can be done, with the remainder being completed at one of the main campuses. The most prominent science journals are in the social sciences, which are led by economics and political science. Among Antigua and Barbuda's outstanding contributions to the pool of regional scientists are Ashly Bryant, Percival Perry, Samuel Daniel, Ermina Oshoba, Vincent Richards, and Enoch James.


Davis, Gregson. Antigua Black, 1973.

Gaspar, David Barry. Bondmen and Rebels, 1985.

Henry, Paget. Peripheral Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Antigua, 1985.

Kincaid, Jamaica. Annie John, 1985.

. A Small Place, 1988.

Langhan, Mrs. Antigua and Antiguans, 1844.

Olaoye, Elaine. Passion of the Soul, 1998.

Oliver, V. The History of the Island of Antigua, 1894.

Prince, Ralf. Jewels of the Sun, 1979.

Richards, Novelle. The Struggle and the Conquest, 1967.

. The Twilight Hour, 1971.

Smith, Keithlyn. No Essay Pushover, 1994.

Tongue, Gwen. Cooking Antigua's Food, 1973.

Paget Henry

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Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda


Approximately 95 percent of Antiguans and Barbudans descended from African slaves. The rest are of European, Asian, Arab, and mixed descent.

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