views updated May 08 2018


Culture Name



Identification. Anguilla, a dependent territory of the United Kingdom, is one of the Leeward Islands. According to tradition, Christopher Columbus gave the small, narrow island its name in 1493 because from the distance it resembled an eel, or in Italian, anguilla. It is also possible that French navigator Pierre Laudonnière gave the island its name from the French anguille.

Location and Geography. Anguilla is the most northern of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Nearby islands include Scrub, Seal, Dog and Sombrero Islands and Prickly Pear Cays. Anguilla is five miles (eight kilometers) north of Saint Martin and sixty miles (ninety-seven kilometers) northeast of Saint Kitts. Anguilla's land area covers thirty-five square miles (ninety-one square kilometers). It is sixteen miles (twenty-six kilometers) long and three-and-one-half miles (six kilometers) wide, with a highest elevation of two-hundred -thirteen feet (sixty-five meters), at Crocus Hill. The largest town, in the center of the island, is The Valley. Relatively flat, Anguilla is a coral and limestone island with a very dry climate. It is covered with sparse vegetation, and there are few areas of fertile soil; most of the land is more adapted to grazing. Anguilla does not have any rivers, but there are several salt ponds, which are used for the commercial production of salt. The climate is sunny and dry year-round, with an average temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). Anguilla is in an area known for hurricanes, which are most likely to strike from July to October.

Demography. Originally inhabited by some of the Carib peoples who came from northern South America, Anguilla was later colonized by the English, in the 1600s. Today the majority of the population is of African descent. The minority Caucasian population is mostly of British descent. The population on average is very young; more than one third are under the age of fifteen. Anguilla has a total permanent population of about nine thousand.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language of Anguilla is English. A Creole language, derived from a mixture of English and African languages, also is spoken by some Anguillans.

Symbolism. The flag of Anguilla was changed several times in the twentieth century. The present flag consists of a dark blue field with the Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain, in the upper left corner, and Anguilla's crest to the center-right side. The crest consists of a background that is white on top and light blue below and has three gold dolphins jumping in a circle. For official government purposes outside Anguilla, the British flag is used to represent the island.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Anguilla was first inhabited several thousand years ago and at various times by some of the Carib peoples who arrived from South America. One of these groups, the Arawaks, settled in Anguilla more or less permanently in about 2000 b.c.e. The first Europeans to arrive on the island were the English, who had first colonized Saint Kitts, and then Anguilla in 1650. By this time the Arawaks had vanished, probably wiped out by disease, pirates, and European explorers. However, in 1656 the English in turn were massacred by a group of Caribs, famous for their skill as warriors and farmers. The English eventually returned and attempted to cultivate the land but Anguilla's dry climate prevented its farms from ever becoming profitable.

For the next 150 years, until about 1800, Anguilla, like other Caribbean islands, was caught in the power struggle between the English and the French, both nations seeking to gain control of the area and its highly profitable trade routes and cash crops. Anguilla was attacked by a group of Irish colonists in 1688, many of whom remained to live peacefully with the other islanders. Their surnames are still evident today. The French also attacked Anguilla, first in 1745 and again in 1796, but were unsuccessful both times.

During the 1600s most Anguillans survived by working small plots of land, fishing, and cutting wood for export. Indentured European servants provided most of the labor. However, by the early 1700s, the slave-plantation system was gradually beginning to become the dominant economic system in the eastern Caribbean. The growth of the slave trade was directly tied to the cultivation of sugarcane, which was introduced to the West Indies in the late 1600s from the Mediterranean. It quickly became the most valuable cash crop. Harvesting and processing sugarcane was labor-intensive and required a large workforce. Plantation owners soon discovered that it was more profitable to use slaves, forcibly brought from Africa, rather than indentured servants, to work the sugar plantations. Although Anguilla was never a major sugar producer, its proximity to other West Indian islands caused it to be greatly influenced by the plantation system and the slave trade. As the slave system continued to grow throughout the 1700s, Anguilla's population of people of African descent grew.

In 1824 the government of Great Britain created a new administrative plan for their territories in the Caribbean, which placed Anguilla under the administrative authority of Saint Kitts. After more than a century of independence, Anguillans resented this change and believed that the government of Saint Kitts had little interest in their affairs or in helping them. The conflict between Saint Kitts and Anguilla would not be resolved until the twentieth century. A significant change in Anguilla's social and economic structure occurred when England's Emancipation Act of 1833 officially abolished the slave trade in its Caribbean colonies. By 1838, most of the landowners had returned to Europe; many of them sold their land to former slaves. Anguilla survived for the next century on a subsistence agricultural system, with very little change from the mid-1800s until the 1960s.

Anguillans made frequent requests for direct rule from Great Britain throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but continued to remain under the authority of Saint Kitts. In 1967 Anguillans rebelled, disarming and capturing all of Saint Kitts's government officials stationed in Anguilla. Anguillans later even invaded Saint Kitts, and finally, in 1969, the British government intervened, sending in four hundred troops. The British military were openly welcomed by Anguillans and in July 1971 the Anguilla Act was passed, officially placing the island under direct British control. It was not until 19 December 1980 that the island was formally separated from Saint Kitts.

Anguilla's position as first a colony, and then a dependent of another British territory, has prevented it from developing as an independent nation like other larger, Caribbean islands. Since 1980 Anguilla has prospered as a separate dependent territory. With an overall increase in economic prosperity and the end of conflict with Saint Kitts, Anguillans are today optimistic about their future.

National Identity. Anguillans are proud of their independence and unique identity as one of the smallest inhabited Caribbean islands. They identify culturally with both Great Britain and the West Indies. Industrious and resourceful, Anguillans are known for working together to help each other through hurricanes, drought, and other problems. Great differences in wealth do not exist; consequently there is a general sense of unity among Anguillans of all backgrounds.

Ethnic Relations. Problems of ethnic, racial, and social class conflict have always been minimal in Anguilla. The island's small size and lack of fertile soil prevented the plantation system, which had long-lasting negative effects on many Caribbean societies, from developing. Most Anguillans are of mixed West African, Irish, English, or Welsh heritage. The small Caucasian minority is well integrated with the ethnic majority.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Housing conditions are generally good, and urban development greatly improved when badly needed public buildings, roads, and water systems were built in the 1960s. Compared to many other islands, urban planning is generally good. Apart from exclusive resort hotels that cater to a foreign tourist trade, Anguillan buildings are typically simple but rather large concrete constructions. Most construction materials must be shipped in, and the frequent occurrence of hurricanes necessitates particular construction methods. Anguilla's sunny and mild climate easily permits outdoor living year-round. Anguillan buildings often have balconies or terraces and take advantage of Anguilla's brilliant sunlight. Slightly more than half of Anguilla's roads are paved. There are two small ports and one airport.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. With an abundant supply of seafood, fruit, and vegetables, food in daily life is fresh and reflects Anguilla's cultural history. Lobster is common and an important export as well. As the Caribbean has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, the demand for lobster continues to grow. Lobster and crayfish are often prepared with cilantro and plantains. Red snapper, conch, and whelk are also typical to Anguilla. Other dishes include mutton stew with island vegetables, and pumpkin soup. Anguilla also manufactures its own brand of soda, using local ingredients. Salted fish, curried goat, and jerk chicken also are popular.

Basic Economy. Tourism is now the mainstay of Anguilla's economy, but other important economic activities include fishing, especially lobster and conch; salt production; raising of livestock; and boat building. There is a small financial services industry that the British and Anguillan governments are trying to expand. Money sent back to the island from Anguillans who have moved abroad also is important to the overall economy. There is no income tax; customs duties, real estate taxes, bank licenses, and the sale of stamps provide revenue for the Anguillan government. Both the eastern Caribbean dollar and the U.S. dollar are used as currency.

Land Tenure and Property. Anguilla's dry climate had always discouraged potential settlers in the past, but with the rise of tourism, land and property values have soared. Strict control of land and inaccessibility to it have helped keep real estate development from growing uncontrollably. Clean beaches and plant and animal life abound. With the end of slavery in the 1830s, land was divided into small plots among the island's residents. A few tourist hotels have been built in recent years, but not the large private resorts found in other parts of the Caribbean.

Commercial Activities. Tourism and related activities are now the most widespread commercial concerns. Hotels, restaurants, bars, excursion boating and diving, tourist shops, and transportation services are the most widespread commercial activities. The food business, such as markets and bakeries, also is significant. Anguilla produces and sells collectible stamps and this is a small but lucrative part of the economy.

Major Industries. Anguilla is not industrialized. Fishing, particularly lobster, constitutes major exports to other parts of the Caribbean and to the United States. Salt, produced by natural evaporation from salt ponds on the island, occurs in quantities large enough for export. Agricultural production, for Anguillan consumption as well as for other islands, includes corn, pigeon peas, and sweet potatoes. Meat products are from sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens.

Trade. Great Britain and its neighboring islands are Anguilla's most frequent and important trading partners. Seafood and salt are still important exports. A large number of consumer goods and materials must be imported. With a stronger economy, Anguillans are able to afford many items that would have been prohibitively expensive twenty years ago.

Division of Labor. Anguilla has a low standard of living, and employment is often unsteady. Many younger Anguillans go abroad to find work, either to Great Britain, the United States, or to other, larger Caribbean islands. Since Anguilla's independence from Saint Kitts and the growth of the tourist sector, unemployment rates have dropped dramatically. There is now a shortage of labor, which has led to delays in some of the government-sponsored economic plans as well as price and wage increases. More work visas are being granted to non-Anguillans, but with the demand for labor high, many Anguillans hold more than one job. The British government provides support for a development and jobs program, and the Caribbean Development Bank also has contributed funds to help provide work and stimulate growth.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. There is very minimal class distinction among native Anguillans. The small Caucasian minority is not an elite, power-holding group; likewise, the African-descent majority does not discriminate or economically isolate the ethnic minority.

Political Life

Government. As Anguilla is a dependent territory of Great Britain, Anguilla's government is under the authority of the British government at Westminster, London. Anguilla's government consists of the governor, the Executive Council, and the House of Assembly. The governor, who holds executive power, is appointed by the British monarch. The governor is responsible for external affairs, internal financial affairs, defense, and internal security. The Executive Council advises the governor. The House of Assembly has two ex officio members, two nominated members, and seven elected members. Other political positions include that of attorney general and secretary to the Executive Council.

Leadership and Political Officials. Before Anguilla became a dependent British territory, the chief minister held executive power. For two decades the position of chief minister alternated between two political rivals: Ronald Webster of the People's Progressive Party, and Emile Gumbs of the Anguilla National Alliance. Several coalition governments were formed during this period as Anguillans sought to obtain total independence from Saint Kitts. The chief executive is now the governor. In 1990 the position of deputy governor was created. The three ruling parties are the Anguilla United Party, the Anguilla Democratic Party, and the Anguilla National Alliance.

Social Problems and Control. Until recently, Anguilla's most urgent social problem was unemployment. The rapid expansion of the economy and the sudden demand for labor have caused unemployment rates to drop dramatically. However, Anguillans must now contend with some of the negative effects of the tourism boom: dealing with large numbers of non-Anguillans who sometimes are insensitive to their customs; pollution; rising prices; a strain on the island's resources; and the influence of other cultures on their way of life. Other social concerns include maintaining their cultural traditions without giving up the benefits of increased trade and business with other countries, improving living standards, and keeping the illegal drug trade out of Anguilla.

Military Activity. Great Britain is responsible for Anguilla's defense. The island has a small police force.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

As a dependent territory, Great Britain provides economic aid and social programs for Anguilla. Other development and welfare programs are supported by the United Nations and the United States. These programs are for general Caribbean economic development, increasing trade and improving living conditions. They also provide assistance in times of natural disaster.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. More Anguillan women work outside the home than a generation ago, but men still comprise the majority of the workforce. Women own shops or work in the tourist business, in hotels, restaurants, or markets. Women are also employed in agricultural work. However, many women may stop working temporarily when they have young children, returning to work when their children are more independent. Since many businesses and farms are small and family-run, women have a degree of autonomy in work. The recent high demand for labor has also provided jobs for women that previously were nonexistent. Men are more likely than women to be involved in businesses such as fishing, boat construction, and running diving and sailing businesses for tourists.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. General economic and living conditions have improved for all Anguillans. However, more men than women travel abroad to find work, hold political office, and own businesses. The home and family are still considered to be women's main responsibilities, and for the most part women are dependent on male family members or husbands for economic support.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. The extended family is central to Anguillan and West Indian societies in general. Despite the strong influences of the Methodist and Anglican Churches, historically marriage was not considered obligatory for the creation of a family or a domestic living arrangement. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, apart from the small upper class of English landowners, social conditions and slavery made the creation of long-lasting unions very difficult. Men and women frequently lived together in common law marriages for varying lengths of time. It was not infrequent for women and men to have children with more than one partner. Marriage in the Western sense was more likely to occur among the upper and middle classes. Today marriage is considered a cornerstone of family and social life, and weddings are community events.

Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is generally a family headed by a mother and father. Under them are their children, often with one or more older relative, such as a grandparent, living under the same roof. As a result of very minimal class and economic differences, Anguillan family life has generally been more stable from a historical point of view than in some other Caribbean islands, where extremely poor economic and social conditions frequently contributed to the breakdown of the domestic unit. The domestic unit is generally stable until children reach adulthood and leave to start their own families. Daughters generally live at home with their parents until they are married.

Inheritance. Today as a British dependent territory, Anguilla's laws governing inheritance are based on Great Britain's. Until recently, inheritance always passed to the oldest son, or to oldest daughter if there were no males heirs. Past inheritance laws also excluded women from holding property.

Kin Groups. The extended family, particularly the network of female family members, often extends to include whole communities in Anguilla. The island's population is descended from the small group of people who arrived there two centuries ago, and as a result family groups are the basis for Anguillan society. Kin groups are extensive yet closely-knit, united by their collective past. A kin group can include many related families living near each other, or families in various parts of the island bound by surname. In terms of domestic organization and management, kin groups are matriarchal in nature, with mother and grandmothers taking responsibility for important family decisions.


Infant Care. Infants and young children are cared for at home by their mothers or other female relatives. Increased government spending for education has provided funds for early childhood education and care and assistance to working mothers. However, most children remain at home until they begin elementary school at age five.

Child Rearing and Education. Anguilla, like many other islands of the West Indies, sought to improve literacy rates and educational standards in the second half of the twentieth century. Between the ages of five and fourteen education is obligatory and free through a public school system. There are several primary schools and a secondary school.

Higher Education. For advanced, specialized training or a university degree, Anguillans must either go to another Caribbean country or leave the area. In 1948 the University of the West Indies was established in Jamaica to provide higher education for all English-speaking countries in the region. It has created an intellectual center for the West Indies in general and serves as an important contact with the international academic community.


Although the daily pace is generally relaxed and unhurried, Anguillans maintain a degree of formality in public life. Politeness and manners are considered important. As Anguilla's popularity as a tourist destination has grown, Anguillans have found themselves faced with confronting the problems that tourism can bring while trying not to lose an important source of income. Nude sunbathing is strictly prohibited, and wearing swimsuits anywhere outside of beach areas is not permitted. Anguillans always address each other by titleMr., Mrs., etc.unless they are on very personal terms. People in positions of importance are addressed using their job title with their last names, such as Nurse Smith or Officer Green. In an effort to maintain its low crime rate, Anguilla also enforces a strict antidrug policy, which includes careful search of all items or luggage brought onto the island.


Religious Beliefs. Protestant churches, namely Anglican and Methodist, constitute the largest religious affiliation. Roman Catholicism is the second-largest religious group. Obeah, which is similar to voodoo and based on religious practices of African slaves brought to Anguilla, also is practiced by some.

Medicine and Health Care

Health standards are good, and birth and death rates are balanced. Anguilla has a small hospital, and limited health care is available through a government health program. For complicated or long-term medical treatment Anguillans must leave the island.

Secular Celebrations

Important secular holidays and celebrations include Anguilla Day, 30 May; the Queen's Birthday, 19 June; Caricom Day, 3 July; Constitution Day, 11 August; and Separation Day, 19 December. Carnival is held the first week of August and includes parades, folk music, traditional dances, competitions, and a street fair. Colorful and elaborate costumes are worn in the Carnival parades, and it is a time for Anguillans to celebrate their history.

The Arts and Humanities

Anguilla has several small art galleries, shops that sell local crafts, and a museum with exhibitions relating to Anguillan history, including prehistoric artifacts found on the island. Although there is no permanent theater on the island, various theatrical performances are held regularly. The Anguilla Arts Festival is held every other year and includes workshops, exhibits, and an art competition.


Burton, Richard D.E. AfroCreole: Power, Opposition, and Play in the Caribbean, 1997.

Comitas, Lambros, and David Lowenthal. Work and Family Life: West Indian Perspectives, 1973.

Kurlansky, Mark. A Continent of Island: Searching for Caribbean Destiny, 1993.

Lewis, Gordon K. The Growth of the Modern West Indies, 1968.

Rogozinski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present, 2000.

Westlake, Donald. Under an English Heaven, 1973.

Williams, Eric. From Columbus to Castro: A History of the Caribbean, 14921969, 1984.

Web Sites

"Calabash Skyviews." Anguilla history homepage.

M. Cameron Arnold


views updated May 21 2018


Basic Data
Official Country Name:Anguilla
Region:Puerto Rico & Lesser
Literacy Rate:95%

History & Background

Anguilla, from the French word anguille (eel), is a long, narrow island in the Caribbean Sea. The island, which is about half the size of Washington, DC, is located approximately 150 miles east of Puerto Rico and is the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. Its length of 16 miles and width of 3.5 miles gives the country a total area of 35 square miles, or 91 square kilometers. The territory also includes Sombrero, Scrub, Seal and Dog Islands, and Prickly Pear Cays. The capital is The Valley, which is located in the center of the island. It is a part of the British West Indies and is a dependent British Crown colony.

Anguilla was colonized by British settlers from St. Christopher (St. Kitts) in 1650 and has been a British territory since that time. In 1882, Anguilla was united with St. Christopher and Nevis as a single British dependent colony. The inhabitants resisted the alliance with several protests and attempts to separate from the association with St. Christopher. Results were finally achieved in 1967 when the Anguillans ejected the St. Christopher policemen and declared the country's independence, refusing to further recognize the authority of the state government of St. Christopher. After two years of negotiations, British troops were sent in to establish control of the island. In 1980, the country was officially separated from Nevis and St. Christopher and placed under direct British rule; in 1982 a new Anguillan constitution was ratified.

In 2000, the Anguillan population was approximately 12,000, of which 26 percent were 14 years of age or less. Birth and death rates in 2000 were moderate with average life expectancy standing at slightly more than 76 years. Most of the inhabitants are of African descent. The official language is English, and Protestant denominations comprise the largest religious groups. The literacy rate, based on the definition of ages 12 and over being able to read and write, stands at 95 percent.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Because Anguilla is a dependent British colony, its government is outlined and administered according to British dictates. The administration of the island is the responsibility of a governor appointed by the monarch of the United Kingdom, an executive council, and a legislative assembly. The territory has a legal system based on English common law, and the country's defense is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. Although Anguillans live under rather poor conditions in some respects, with a 1998 per capita income of approximately US$7,900, they fare better than a number of other Caribbean countries. Low crime rates and virtually no taxation add to the appeal of Anguilla.

Educational SystemOverview

Government expenditure on education in 1991 was approximately 17 percent of the total expenditure, and in 1995 the amount rose to more than 18 percent. This amount allows the government to provide free education for children ages 5 to 15. In addition to education, the school health service provides physical screenings for children five to nine years of age, and health educators teach schoolchildren the importance of healthy living. Environmental conditions are also monitored.

While education is free in Anguilla, it is also compulsory from ages 5 through 15. The academic year consists of three terms from mid-September to mid-July. Each term is 13 weeks long. Students receive a summer recess of six weeks, a Christmas break of four weeks, and an Easter break of three weeks. Instruction is given in English, the official language.

The Anguillan education system is based primarily on the British system of education. When students finish their high school education, they take the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examination. If they receive four or five passes, including English and math, they may enroll in a program for advanced education. The program is called "6th Form." It is a two-year program that leads to Advanced Levels examinations, which, in turn, can lead to credit in U.S. universities.

Instructional technology and other resources are being implemented in Anguillan schools. In 2000, most schools had a teacher resource room, Internet access, audiovisual materials, copying and facsimile equipment, and e-mail capability. Most of the schools also had individual Web sites. Educators, as well as students, are learning through hands-on courses and workshops to use technology in different formats. One example of technology instruction is found in the Anguillan Library Computer Club. Weekly meetings are held for the purpose of instruction in Windows, Spreadsheets, Basic Programming, and digital cameras. While this instruction is not part of the school curriculum, it is arranged for students during after-school hours.

Preprimary & Primary Education

In 1988, the country had four privately owned preprimary schools, all subsidized by the government. In addition, the government has appointed a curricular officer for early childhood education. The officer's responsibility is to develop activities and programs to further student learning at early ages. Because most preprimary teachers are untrained, the government conducts training programs and ensures that teachers are exposed to "in sight" training at centers in Trinidad and Tobago. In 1996/97, the teacher/student ratio was 1:8.

Anguilla has six primary schools whose combined enrollment in 1998 was 1,502. With a total of 77 teachers, the teacher/student ratio was 1:20. The primary curriculum includes the core courses language arts, math, science, and social studies. A co-curriculum includes arts, music, physical education, and technology. Since the early 1990s, emphasis has been placed on preventive education in life skills, drug awareness, and guidance/counseling. Education is also provided for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities through modified curriculum, adapted physical environments, and appropriate teaching methodologies.

Secondary Education

Only one comprehensive (secondary) school exists for students who complete their primary school education. It is located centrally in the capital, The Valley. Enrollment for 1997 totaled 1036, with the majority being female. When students reach the age of 11, they are automatically transferred to the secondary program, whether or not they have completed their primary curriculum. In addition to core courses, curricular changes are under way to include environmental education, home economics, and geography. More than 80 percent of the country's labor force has completed a secondary school education.

Higher Education

Higher education is available at locations outside the country. In 1995, a little more than 7.5 percent of the labor force had received a university education, while 6 percent had an education from a technical college.

Nonformal Education

Adult education is a growing element of the Anguillan education system. The government has appointed a coordinator for adult and continuing education. The government is also moving to establish relations with partners in education to set guidelines to ensure the best use of resources for continuing education. In addition, the Ministry of Education serves as a center for several overseas examinations.

Teaching Profession

In the mid-1980s, Anguillan schools had a total teaching staff of 92. Seventy-five percent of that number were completely trained teachers. In the late 1990s, about one third of primary teachers were untrained, a small number of whom participated in the Inservice Teachers' Training Program and were referred. The goal in 2000 was to have all teachers trained within ten years. To improve their education, teachers also train through programs such as computer training workshops or camps.


With a literacy rate of 95 percent, the Anguillan education system is successful. However, rather than remain at that level, the education system continues to move forward. This forward movement has been greatly impacted by innovations in technology and communications. Until 1971, the island had no system of telecommunications. By 2000, the country had a digital telephone exchange, national paging service, cellular telephone service, voice-mail, e-mail, and Internet access.

In addition to technological advances, Anguilla has begun to use other educational innovations. The Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination is being tested on a pilot basis as a possible replacement for the Cambridge A Level examination. In 1998, Anguilla became the first Caribbean country to introduce Reading Recovery, a school-based intervention for literacy problems, in its primary school system. In 1992, a "Test of Standards" was implemented for grades three, five, and six to set performance norms.

Many reforms and improvements are under way in Anguilla because the government recognizes the deficiencies in its educational system. The inhabitants must continue to work diligently to modernize the education system that serves as a vital component of the country's efforts to improve the quality of life for its citizens.


Bonk, Mary Rose, ed. Worldmark Yearbook 2000. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000.

"Bootcamp 2000." Anguilla Library Computer Club, 12 February 2001. Available from

Cable & Wireless. "History of Cable and Wireless Anguilla," 2000. Available from

Carter, Tara. "School Exams in Anguilla." Bob Green's Anguilla News, 1998. Available from

Cashmore, Ross, and Estelle Cashmore. "Reading Recovery in Anguilla." Bob Green's Anguilla News, 1998. Available from

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from

KPMG (Anguilla) Corporate Services LLC. "About Anguilla," 1999. Available from

Pan American Health Organization. "Anguilla: Basic Country Health Profiles, Summaries," 1999. Available from

UNESCO. EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports-Anguilla, 2001. Available from http://www2.unesco./org/wef.

Linda K. Clemmer


views updated May 11 2018


Territory of the United Kingdom

  • Area: 35 sq mi (90 sq km), in addition to Sombero Island (2 sq mi /5 sq km) / World Rank: 201
  • Location: Northern and Western Hemispheres, northernmost of the Leeward Islands
  • Coordinates: 18° 15′ N and 63° 10′ W
  • Borders: Entirely bounded by ocean, no international boundaries
  • Coastline: 38 mi (61 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 3 NM (5 km)
  • Highest Point: Crocus Hill, 213 ft (65 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: Main island: 13 mi (21 km) long / 3 mi (4.8 km) wide
  • Longest River: None
  • Natural Hazards: Subject to hurricanes and severe tropical storms
  • Population: 13,132 (mid-2001 est.) / World Rank:203
  • Capital City: The Valley, located at mid-point of the north coast (administrative center; Anguilla has no capital)
  • Largest City: The Valley


Anguilla is one of the Leeward Islands, which lie between the Caribbean Sea in the west and the openAtlantic Ocean in the east. It is a long, flat, dry, scrub-covered coral island, south and east of Puerto Rico and north of the Windward chain. It is an island of no significant elevations with its terrain consisting entirely of beaches, dunes, and low limestone bluffs.



Anguilla's highest elevation, Crocus Hill, is 225 ft (70m). Crocus Hill is among the cliffs that line the northern shore.


Anguilla has no inland waterways of any significant size.


Major Islands

Sombrero, a 1-mi (1.6-km) long rock island, lies about 35 mi (56 km) to the northwest of the main island.

Other, smaller, islands lie close by Anguilla, including Scrub Island and Dog Island.

The Coast and Beaches

The numerous bays—Barnes, Little, Rendezvous, Shoal, and Road—lure many vacationers to this tropical island. The coast and the beautiful, pristine beaches are integral to the tourism-based economy of Anguilla. Because of Anguilla's warm climate, the beaches can be used year-round.



Northeastern trade winds keep this tropical island cool and dry. Average annual temperature is 81°F (27°C). July–October is its hottest period, December–February, its coolest.


Rainfall averages 35 in (89 cm) annually, although the figures vary from season to season and year to year. The island is subject to both sudden tropical storms and hurricanes, which occur in the period from July to October. The island suffered damage in 1995 from Hurricane Luis.


Anguilla's coral and limestone terrain provide no subsistence possibilities for forests, woodland, pastures, crops, or arable lands. Its dry climate and thin soil hamper commercial agricultural development.


Estimated population for Anguilla in mid-2001 was 12,132 with a growth rate of 2.68 percent. Anguillans are primarily of African descent, with an European (especially Irish) ancestral presence. The population is over-whelmingly Christian. Most residents are involved in fishing and subsistence farming, raising such crops as pigeon peas, sweet potatoes, Indian corn, and beans.


Anguilla's natural resources are the waters and coral reefs that surround this island nation. Deep sea and lobster fishing provides not only food for its natives, but is an important part of the tourism industry on the island. The island has no forests, pastures, woodland, or arable land, but does harvest salt from commercial salt ponds.


Blanchard, Melinda, and Robert Blanchard. A Trip to the Beach. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2000.

Brisk, William J. The Dilemma of a Ministate: Anguilla. Columbia, SC: Institute of International Studies, University of South Carolina, 1969.

Browne, Whitman T. From Commoner to King; Robert L.Bradshaw, Crusader for Dignity and Justice in the Caribbean. Lanham, MD: University Press of American, 1992.

Westlake, Donald E. Under an English Heaven. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.


A lthough sighted by Columbus in 1496, Europeans did not colonize Anguilla until 1650 when the British arrived from neighboring St. Kitts. Anguilla became a separate dependency from the Leeward Islands, which include St. Kitts and Nevis, in 1980.


views updated Jun 08 2018


Basic Data

Official Country Name:Anguilla
Region (Map name):Caribbean
Literacy rate:95%

Anguilla is the most northerly of the British Leeward Islands and is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. Under British rule since 1650, it spent more than 150 years as an incorporated dependency with neighboring islands called the West Indies Associated States. After a long struggle for secession, Anguilla was finally recognized as a separate British dependency in 1980. The British monarch serves as chief of state, represented in the island's government by a Governor. A Chief Minister presides over the legislative body, called the House of Assembly. English is the island's official language. The population is estimated at approximately 12,000, with a 95-percent literacy rate. Luxury tourism and offshore financial services comprise the largest sectors of the Anguillan economy, with fishing, construction and remittances from émigrés abroad providing smaller contributions.

As a British dependency, laws governing freedom of the press are the same as those in the United Kingdom, providing for an unrestricted free press. Journalists can, however, be compelled to reveal their sources or face contempt of court charges. Anguilla supports two weekly community newspapers, The Light and The Anguillian. The Light is published by "What We Do in Anguilla," which publishes a namesake monthly visitor's magazine. The Anguillian launched in December 1998. Both titles publish in English from Anguilla's capital, The Valley. For more timely print news, Anguillan's read the Daily Herald, a St. Martin newspaper that publishes Monday through Saturday and arrives on Anguilla by late morning, and The Chronicle, which is published in Dominica.

Five AM and six FM radio stations, and one television station, broadcast to approximately 3,000 radios and 1,000 television sets. There are 16 Internet service providers.


"Anguilla," BBC Holiday Shopping Guide 2001. Available from

"Anguilla," CIA World Fact Book 2001. Available from

"United Kingdom Country Report," U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001. Available from

Jenny B. Davis


views updated Jun 11 2018



The name "Anguilla" refers to a 96-square-kilometer dependent island territory of the United Kingdom, located in the northeast Caribbean at 18°03 N, 63°04 W. Anguillans speak English and are mostly of African descent. The population was approximately 6,900 in 1992. "Anguilla," the Spanish word for "eel," refers to the shape of the island, which originated as a coral formation.

The earliest inhabitants of the island were Saladoid Indians, who arrived sometime around 1300 b.c.; they grew cassava and built several large villages. In the tenth century AD., post-Saladoid Indians came to the island and established a theocracy. British enslavement of the Indians and European diseases killed all the Anguillan Indians by the 1600s. Anguilla was colonized by the British in 1650, although the Carib and French both attacked the colony in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, respectively. Anguilla was later to become a part of the Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla colony. As Saint Kitts gradually gained more independence from the U.K., Anguilla moved toward independence from the Saint Kitts government, and in 1980 it separated from Saint Kitts and Nevis to become a British Dependent Territory, drafting its own constitution in 1982. The Valley, capital of Anguilla, is home to the governor (the Crown representative), an elected seven-member executive council, and an elected eleven-member legislature known as the House of Assembly.

The economy of Anguilla is presently booming because of the tourist trade and the location there of offshore banks. Prior to 1985, however, high unemployment and emigration were common. The island has few natural resources (salt and lobsters), poorly developed agriculture (pigeon peas, maize, and sweet potatoes), and little manufacturing (boat building).


Douglas, Nik, ed. (1987). Review, 1981-1985. The Valley, Anguilla: Archaeological and Historical Society.

Petty, Colville L., and Nat Hodge (1987). Anguillas Battle for Freedom. Anguilla: PETNAT Publishing Co.

Westlake, Donald E. (1972). Under an English Heaven. New York: Simon & Schuster.


views updated May 14 2018


Anguilla, the northernmost of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. Settled by the British in 1650, the small, 35-square-mile island successfully repelled attacks by Carib Indians in 1656, a contingent of Irishmen in 1688, and French marauders in 1745 and 1796. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, Anguilla attempted to develop a plantation economy, but failed because of inadequate rainfall. Remnants of the invasion forces and the subsequent introduction of slaves are seen in the ethnic mixture of the population. The estimated seventy-five hundred inhabitants are predominantly of African descent, with some European, especially Irish, blood.

In 1825, Anguilla became more closely linked politically to neighboring Saint Kitts, in whose House of Assembly an Anguilla representative was seated. In 1871 Anguilla, along with Saint Kitts, became part of the Leeward Island Federation. Dominated historically by Saint Kitts, Anguilla petitioned unsuccessfully for direct rule from Britain. No political change occurred, however, until 1967, when Saint Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla were granted self-government as an associated state of the United Kingdom. Anguilla seized the opportunity to launch a final offensive for separation from Saint Kitts. Attempts at mediation failed, and in 1969, British security forces invaded. In 1980, Anguilla successfully separated from the associated state, becoming a British dependent territory. In 1982, a new constitution, providing for self-government, was approved.

See alsoCaribbean Sea, Commonwealth States .


Central Office of Information for the Government of Anguilla, Anguilla: The Basic Facts (1979).

Colville L. Petty, Anguilla: Where There's a Will There's a Way (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Dyde, Brian. Out of the Crowded Vagueness: A History of the Islands of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. Oxford: Macmillan Caribbean, 2005.

                                             D. M. Spears


views updated Jun 11 2018

Anguilla Island in the West Indies, most northerly of the Leeward Islands; the capital is The Valley. Settled in the 17th century by English colonists, it eventually became part of the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla group. Declared independent in 1967, it re-adopted British colonial status in 1980, and is now a self-governing dependency. The economy of the flat, coral island is based on fishing and tourism. Area: 91sq km (35sq mi). Pop. (2000) 8000. See West Indies map;