The island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is one of the most affluent in the Caribbean. Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Antigua and Barbuda are the major inhabited islands, with Antigua being the main population centre and Barbuda having exclusive resorts, amongst a number of smaller surrounding islands in the Leeward Islands. First settled by the Siboney, Arawaks and Caribs, Antigua and Barbuda were then sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and later settled by the English in 1684. With large-scale sugar cultivation already being successful elsewhere in the Caribbean, Christopher Codrington came to Antigua to see if it would also be possible there. Proving successful, the next fifty years saw a boom in this industry and by the 18th century, the island was full of sugar plantations.
A century later, Antigua and Barbuda was known as the ‘gateway to the Caribbean’ due to its status as an important strategic port and a worthy commercial colony.Britain abolished slavery in 1834, with Antigua instituting an immediate full emancipation. In 1967 Antigua and Barbuda became part of the Commonwealth and in 1981 received independence. Since then, the Bird family has dominated politics, with Vere Bird being the first prime minister, and his son Lester being the second in office. Now, Antigua and Barbuda sees success from tourism and offshore banking, however it is also vulnerable because of its reliance on these industries.
Most of the population on Antigua and Barbuda are descended from African slaves so culture inevitably reflects elements from African heritage, but it is also infused with aspects from the British colonial period. The most obvious ways this is displayed is through music and language. Popular musical genres here are calypso, steel drum and reggae; these are all found at cultural celebrations such as Carnival. Although English is the official language, Antiguans and Barbudans also speak Creole, which in this case is heavily influenced by African languages, unlike French or Spanish Creole. Some relevant books about the country are Shouldering Antigua and Barbuda by Paget Henry, Dancing in the Dining Room, Antigua West Indies by Donna Goring, Annie John by Jamaica Kincald and Antigua Vision by Lester Bird.