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Antigua and Barbuda
By Beachcomber, retrieved from Wikipedia
Nov 1, 2003, 19:35
Antigua and Barbuda is an island nation located in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Antigua and Barbuda are part of the Lesser Antilles with the island of Guadeloupe to the south, Montserrat to the southwest, Saint Kitts and Nevis to the west and Saint Barthélemy to the northwest.
The Siboney were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 BC, but Arawak and Carib Amerindian tribes populated the islands when Christopher Columbus landed on his second voyage in 1493. Early settlements by the Spanish and French were succeeded by the English who formed a colony in 1667. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, was abolished in 1834. The islands became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981.
Antigua and Barbuda is a Commonwealth Realm and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented in Antigua and Barbuda by a governor general. Executive power is in the hands of the prime minister, who is also the head of government. The prime minister is usually the leader of the winning party of the elections for the House of Representatives (17 members), held every five years. The other chamber of the parliament, the Senate, has 17 members which are appointed by the governor general.
The island of Antigua is separated into six parishes:
The island of Barbuda has the status of dependency, as does the tiny island of Redonda to the west.
The country consists of a number of islands, of which Antigua is the largest one, and the most populated. Barbuda, just north of Antigua is the other main island. The islands have a warm, tropical climate, with fairly constant temperatures year round.
The islands are mostly low-lying, with the highest point being Boggy Peak, at 402 m. The small country's main town is the capital Saint John's on Antigua; Barbuda's largest town is Codrington.
Tourism continues to dominate the economy, accounting for more than half of GDP. Weak tourist arrival numbers since early 2000 have slowed the economy, however, and pressed the government into a tight fiscal corner. The dual-island nation's agricultural production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labour shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction work.
Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on income growth in the industrialised world, especially in the United States, which accounts for about one-third of all tourist arrivals.
Most of the population are descendants of the slaves that used to work in the sugar plantations, but there are also groups of Europeans, notably British and Portuguese. While the official language is English, most of the locals speak patois, a mixture of English, local languages and some other European languages.
Almost all Antiguans are Christians, with the Anglican Church (about 50%) being the largest denomination.
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