Antigua and Barbuda


Antigua and Barbuda flag


Country: Antigua and Barbuda

Georgian transcript: ანტიგუა და ბარბუდა

Capital: St John’s (სენტ-ჯონსი)

Continent: North America

Official language: English

Vernacular language: Antiguan and Barbudan Creole

Religion: Christianity (76.5%)

Motto: Each endeavouring, all achieving

Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Independence: 1 November 1981 (from the UK)

Member of the Commonwealth of Nations: 1981

Population: 98 781 (2021)

Demonym: Antiguan; Barbudan, Barbudian

Currency: East Caribbean dollar

Driving side: left

Time zone: UTC -4:00

Calling code: +1-268

Internet TLD: .ag

Website: Government of Antigua and Barbuda

Neighbouring countries: None


Antigua and Barbuda map


Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign state in the West Indies in the Americas, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands (including Great Bird, Green, Guiana, Long, Maiden, York Islands, and the island of Redonda).


01 Seashore, Antigua and Barbuda
The seashore near Antigua


English is the official language. The Antiguan accent is slightly different from the Barbudan. Standard English was widely spoken before Antigua and Barbuda's independence. Generally, the upper and middle classes still avoid speaking Antiguan dialect, and the educational system discourages its usage. The instruction is done in Standard British English. Approximately, 10% of the population also speaks Spanish.


Dickenson Bay, Antigua
Dickenson Bay, Antigua. Credit: Fathom Team


There are two daily newspapers on the islands: The Daily Observer and The Caribbean Times. The local channel ABS TV 10 is the only station, which shows exclusively local programs. There are also several local and regional radio stations.


Antigua and Barbuda
Santa Maria de la Antigua. Credit: Joseph Hill


Antigua is Spanish for 'ancient' and Barbuda is Spanish for 'bearded'. In 1493 Christopher Columbus sailed by and named it Santa Maria de la Antigua (St Mary of the Old Cathedral), after an icon in the Spanish Seville Cathedral. The island of Antigua was originally called Wadadli by Arawaks and locally it is still known by that name.


Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua


Falmouth Harbour is a horseshoe-shaped bay on the far south coast of Antigua. Close to its eastern shore English Harbour is located, usually, used as a shelter during violent storms. The Dover Castle was the first recorded ship to enter English Harbour in 1671. In 1704 Fort Berkeley was listed as one of the twenty forts established around the coast of Antigua. By 1707 naval ships used English Harbour as a station. In September 1723 the place gained a reputation of a safe natural harbour when a hurricane swept ashore 35 ships lying in other ports in Antigua, while HMS Hector and HMS Winchelsea moored in English Harbour, survived the hurricane undamaged.


English Harbour, Antigua
English Harbour, Antigua. Credit: Mark Jordan


English Harbour is the site of a restored British colonial naval station called Nelson's Dockyard after Admiral Horatio Nelson who lived in the Royal Navy Dockyard from 1784 through 1787. Horatio served there as a young man, and as they say, once he jokingly threatened to hang himself of boredom. Nelson's Dockyard is still used as a boatyard, having yachts tied up to stone wharves. Nelson's Dockyard is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called Nelson's Dockyard National Park, which also includes Clarence House and Shirley Heights.


Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua
Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua. Credit: neufal54


St John's is the capital and largest city of Antigua and Barbuda. It was founded in the 1660s by the English colonisers. The city prospered up to the mid 19th century due to successful sugar production. After achieving independence in 1981, St. John's became the seat of government. It is designed in an easy to navigate grid system, making it hard to actually get lost there – downhill is towards the harbour, and uphill is out of town. There is the VC Bird International Airport, 8 km northeast of the capital city. With a population of 22,193, St. John's is the commercial centre of the nation and the chief port of the island of Antigua.


The capital St. John's
The capital St John's, Antigua. Credit: Fotolia


The city is famous for its shopping malls as well as boutiques throughout the city. For compulsive shoppers, there are several destinations:

  • Heritage Quay shopping centre for branded and luxury goods and duty-free prices
  • Vendor's Mall for local crafts and souvenirs
  • Redcliffe Quay for restaurants, handcrafted pottery and gifts
  • Heritage Market on the southwestern edge of the city, daily providing fresh products
  • Woods Mall, the large shopping centre to the North of the city centre
  • Jolly Harbour Commercial Centre, selling everything and being a brilliant emergency shop

In addition, there are many gifts, clothes, and food stores all over English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour. The Antigua Rum Distillery is located at the Citadel and is the only rum distillery on the island.


OJ's Beach Bar
OJ's Beach Bar is tatty and cheap but refreshing


Government House is the Governor's residence, originally a 19th-century building. St. John's is home to two medical schools: the American University of Antigua, and the University of Health Sciences Antigua. The Botanical Garden is near the intersection of Factory Road and Independence Avenue.


Sheer Rocks the restaurant
Sheer Rocks, one of the best Antigua restaurants


The capital city's skyline is dominated by the white baroque towers of St. John's Cathedral, also known as the St. John the Divine. This Anglican church is situated on a hilltop. The present cathedral with its famous white twin towers was built in 1845. The previous buildings were destroyed by earthquakes in 1683 and in 1745. The iron gates on the south face of the church are flanked by pillars displaying  St John the Divine and St John the Baptist.


St. John's Cathedral
St. John's Cathedral, Antigua. Credit: neufal54


The Spaniards did not colonise Antigua as it lacked fresh water. The English settled on Antigua in 1632. Slavery was established to run sugar plantations around 1684; it was abolished in 1834. The British ruled from 1632 to 1981, with a brief French interlude in 1666.


Carlisle Bay from East Hotel
Overlooking to Carlisle Bay from East Hotel


The islands became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations on 1 November 1981, with Elizabeth II as the first Queen of Antigua and Barbuda. The first Prime Minister of the islands was Vere Cornwall Bird, Sr.


Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Carlisle Bay, Antigua. Credit: rhodes8043


The national Carnival held each August commemorates the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies; on some islands, Carnival occurs prior to Lent. The Carnival's activities are a major tourist attraction.


Carnival on Antigua
Carnival on Antigua. Credit: Andy Williams


Corn and sweet potatoes play an important role in Antiguan cuisine. A popular Antiguan dish Dukana is a steamed dumpling made from grated sweet potatoes, flour, and spices. One of the Antiguan staple foods, fungi, is a cooked paste made of cornmeal and water.


Piping hot Ducanas on palm-tree leaves


On 6 September 2017, the powerful category 5 Hurricane Irma brought winds with speed reaching 295 km/h to Barbuda. Nearly everyone on the island was evacuated to Antigua. The storm damaged 95% of the buildings and infrastructure, leaving Barbuda 'barely habitable', as Prime Minister Gaston Browne put it. An American news magazine Time indicated that over $100 million would be required to rebuild homes and infrastructure on Barbuda.


Barbuda after Hurricane Irma
Barbuda after Hurricane Irma. Credit: The Independent


Antigua’s sister island lies about 30 miles to the north and is two thirds the size. Barbuda is undeveloped and largely scrubland. Outside Codrington, the only town, there are just a couple of hotels. There is a very large lagoon with marvellous sand, some of which is exported.


Barbuda beach. Credit: Alamy


Treble clef heart

‘Fair Antigua, We Salute Thee’ is the national anthem of Antigua and Barbuda. Novelle Hamilton Richards wrote the lyrics, and Walter Garnet Picart Chambers composed its music. It was adopted as an anthem in 1967 while Antigua and Barbuda were still British colonies. In 1981 the islands gained their independence and it became the national anthem. ‘God Save the Queen’ remains as the royal anthem of Antigua and Barbuda.