A dependency of the UK, the small Caribbean island of Anguilla is located in the Lesser Antilles in the Eastern Caribbean, with a population of 15,000 people. The country became an English colony following the arrival of colonial settlers in 1650, but the tropical climes were once the native home of the Arawak and Carib tribes, who originally came from South America. The name Anguilla is believed to be derived from the European word for Eel, which in Latin is called Anguilla, because of the distinctive shape of the island. The majority of the population today is of African descent.
The Island was temporarily taken over the French in 1666 but soon returned to English control. It would go on to be attacked unsuccessfully by France in 1745 and 1796. Anguilla was also a major centre of the slave trade and this, as well as the booming sugar cane industry on the island in the 17th century, contributed to an influx of African peoples, the descendants of whom now make up the majority of the population. In the 1960s, there was increasing political tension over the issue of the administration of Anguilla, which was then undertaken from St Kitts. The islanders rebelled and Anguilla declared itself an independently ruled nation, until British rule was restored in 1971 under the Anguilla Act. Today, Anguilla operates as a separate, dependent British overseas territory.
The Anguilla National Trust was formed in 1988 to preserve and promote the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island. Famous Anguillans include Bankie Banx, who is often considered the Bob Dylan of Antigua, and has popularised the reggae genre in the Eastern Caribbean. The Anguilla International Arts Festival and the Reggae Moonsplash Music festival and the Summer Festival are highlights of the Anguillan calendar, showcasing the best of Anguillan culture. Colville Petty’s Anguilla, and The Adventure Guide to the Leeward Islands are both comprehensive guides of the best places to experience Anguillan culture.