Antigua, the larger of the two main islands, is 108 sq mi (280 sq km). The island dependencies of Redonda (an uninhabited rocky islet) and Barbuda (a coral island formerly known as Dulcina) are 0.5 sq mi (1.30 sq km) and 62 sq mi (161 sq km), respectively.
Government: Constitutional monarchy.
The island of Antigua was explored by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named for the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville. Antigua was colonized by Britain in 1632; Barbuda was first colonized in 1678. Antigua and Barbuda joined the West Indies Federation in 1958. With the breakup of the federation, it became one of the West Indies Associated States in 1967, self-governing its internal affairs. Full independence was granted Nov. 1, 1981.
The Bird family has controlled the islands since Vere C. Bird founded the Antigua Labor Party in the mid-1940s. While tourism and financial services have turned the country into one of the more prosperous in the Caribbean, law enforcement officials have charged that Antigua and Barbuda is a major center of money laundering, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. Several scandals tainted the Bird family, especially the 1995 conviction of Prime Minister Lester Bird's brother, Ivor, for cocaine smuggling. In 2000, Antigua and 35 other offshore banking centers agreed to reforms to prevent money laundering.
Bird Dynasty Ends
In March 2004, the Bird political dynasty came to an end when labor activist Baldwin Spencer defeated Lester Bird, who had been prime minister since 1994. In 2005, income tax, which had been eliminated in 1975, was reintroduced to help alleviate Antigua's deficit.
On July 17, 2007, Louise Lake-Tack became the first woman governor-general of Antigua and Barbuda.
Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II (1952)
Governor-General: Louise Lake-Tack (2007)
Prime Minister: Baldwin Spencer (2004)
Total area: 170 sq mi (440 sq km)
Population (2010 est.): 86,754 (growth rate: 1.3%); birth rate: 16.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 15.1/1000; life expectancy: 75.26; density per sq mi: 409
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): St. John's, 23,500
Other large cities: English Harbour, 2,900; Codrington (capital of Barbuda), est. pop. 870
Monetary unit: East Caribbean dollar
Languages: English (official), local dialects
Ethnicity/race: black 91%, mixed 4.4%, white 1.7%, other 2.9%
Religions: Christian (predominantly Anglican and other Protestant; some Roman Catholic)
National Holiday: Independence Day (National Day), November 1
Literacy rate: 85.8% (2003 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2009 est.): $1.55 billion; per capita $18,100 (2009 est.). Real growth rate: -6.5% (2009 est.). Inflation: 1.5% (2007 est.). Unemployment: 11% (2001 est.). Arable land: 18.18%. Agriculture: cotton, fruits, vegetables, bananas, coconuts, cucumbers, mangoes, sugarcane; livestock. Labor force: 30,000 (1991); agriculture: 3.8%, industry: 22%, services: 74.3% (2002 est.). Industries: tourism, construction, light manufacturing (clothing, alcohol, household appliances). Natural resources: negl.; pleasant climate fosters tourism. Exports: $84.3 million (2007 est.): petroleum products 48%, manufactures 23%, machinery and transport equipment 17%, food and live animals 4%, other 8%. Imports: $522.8 million (2007 est.): ffood and live animals, machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, oil. Major trading partners: Poland, UK, Germany, Italy, China, U.S., Singapore, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (2006).
Member of Commonwealth of Nations
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 40,000 (2006); mobile cellular: 102,000 (2006). Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998). Television broadcast stations: 2 (1997). Internet hosts: 2,133 (2007). Internet users: 32,000 (2006).
Transportation: Highways: total: 1,165 km, paved: 384 km, unpaved: 781 km (2002). Ports and harbors: Saint John's. Airports: 3 (2007).
International disputes: none.