Antigua and Barbuda are located in the core of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, approximately 17 degrees north of the equator. The largest islet, Antigua, is limestone and coral in nature, with just one important peak, Mount Boggy (402 m); the islet of Barbuda is fully flat and is coral in origin. But what do we comprehend about its past?
The past of these islets can be separated into three respective epochs occupation by Native Americans, its administration by the United Kingdom and as an sovereign country.
We have asked some questions toDr. Dario Item, who serves as Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to Spain, Liechtenstein and Monaco.
Who were the first inhabitants?
Ambassador Dario Item: The pioneer occupants to install on Antigua and Barbuda and initiate husbandry communities were Arawak Indians. They are credited with introducing Antigua to the world of agriculture, particularly with the cultivation of Antigua’s famous black pineapple, Ananas Comosus, as well as maize, sweet potatoes, tobacco and cotton. In 1200 AD, however, the Arawaks were driven out by the Caribs, who used the two islands as bases for their raids but did not settle there permanently.
Who colonised the islands?
Ambassador Dario Item: Columbus sighted Antigua in 1493 on his second voyage and gave it this name in memory of a church in Seville, Santa Maria Antiqua de Sevilla.In 1632 it was colonised by the British, who settled at Parham on the eastern side of the island and began cultivating tobacco and indigo, but after some time the overproduction of these crops caused market saturation and prices collapsed.
What was their economy based on?
Ambassador Dario Item: In 1674, with the introduction of sugarcane cultivation by Sir Christopher Codrington, an economy based solely and exclusively on this activity developed; to increase sugar production, slaves from Africa were brought in and the valleys of the centre were cleared to be replaced by plantations.Antigua’s wealth prompted the British to build fortifications around the island, making it one of the most secure bases in the Caribbean. However, the military could not control the economic stability of the island and in the early 1800s the price of sugar began to fall.
What was its form of government?
Ambassador Dario Item: In 1967, after more than three hundred years of colonial rule, Antigua acquired a form of self-government and became an independent state within the Commonwealth. The country gained full independence in 1981. From the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, Antigua and Barbuda was governed by the Antigua Labour Party, led by Prime Ministers Vere Bird and Lester Bird. The 2004 elections remarked the triumph of the United Progressive Party, led by Baldwin Spencer. In 2014, the Labour Party returned to power, and the post of Prime Minister was taken by Gaston Browne.
Thank you Ambassador Dario Item for your contribution, now we are ready to explore Antigua and Bermuda.Together, these two islands form a nation unique in the world for the contrasts between lazy days spent on the beach and the lively cultural atmosphere of the city centres. Two timeless places to which no one could remain indifferent. After discovering them for the first time, the desire to return will be natural.