Antigua & Barbuda
INTRODUCTION AND QUICK FACTS
Antigua and Barbuda is an independent twin island state located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, 17 degrees north of the equator. The capital, largest port and city is St. John’s in Antigua, with Codrington being the largest city in Barbuda. Antigua is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Its highest point is Mount Obama (1319 ft., 402 meters), formerly known as Boggy Peak and is located in the southwestern corner of the island. Barbuda is a flat coral island with an area of 62 square miles and lies approximately 30 miles due north. The nation also includes the tiny uninhabited island of Redonda (0.6 square mile) which marks Antigua and Barbuda as an archipelagic state.
Known as “a little bit of paradise”, there are 365 white sandy beaches in Antigua. Barbuda is the ultimate celebrity hideaway with extensive pink and white sandy beaches and home to the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. The climate is hot and humid all year, with a relatively cool, dry season from January to mid-April and a hot, humid, and rainy season also known as the hurricane season from mid-June to mid-November. The northeast trade winds are nearly constant with an average temperature of 27 °C (80.6 °F). The annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands.
THE GOVERNMENT OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Having gained independence from Great Britain in 1981, Antigua and Barbuda is a constitutional monarchy headed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England. She is represented by a Governor-General appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister. The constitution establishes a two-chamber legislature, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Executive power is vested in a Cabinet of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Tourism is the key industry and the leading sector in Antigua and Barbuda which provides employment within the hotel and hospitality industry. It is also the principal earner of foreign exchange which accounts for more than half of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The next largest job creating sectors are the finance services industry and the Government. Other industries such as agriculture and fisheries are mainly directed to the domestic market.
The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (ECD), which is fixed to the USD at a rate of 2.70 ECD to 1.00 USD.
LANGUAGE, CULTURE AND FOOD
Antigua and Barbuda is the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands. It has a rich cultural heritage deeply rooted in a mixture of African Heritage combined with the influence of Colonialism which together create a strong, vibrant and spirited culture.
Antigua and Barbuda’s national dish is fungee and pepperpot and the official fruit is the black pineapple. Other popular dishes include ducuna and saltfish, seasoned rice, and goat water just to name a few. Antigua in recent years has become a culinary destination because of the wealth of seafood in its oceans, the quality rums, and the joy in its people.
TRANSPORT LINKS AND ACCOMMODATION
VC Bird International Airport, which was named after the island’s first Prime Minister Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr, is the major airport in Antigua. There are direct flights and connections to the United States, Europe and Canada and many neighboring Caribbean islands.
In the heart of the country’s capital, cruise ship ports are located at St. John’s Harbour and Heritage Quay. Private boaters can enter at St. John’s Harbour, English Harbour or Crabbs Marina. Barbuda is accessible by air or sea from Antigua.
The best way to get around Antigua and Barbuda is by car or taxi. For visitors wanting to explore on their own, rental vehicles are available, however a temporary license is required.
Accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, from highly luxurious and exclusive all-inclusive resorts and Caribbean Hotels to small boutique hotels, intimate inns and private villas are available for visitors.
MAJOR INTERNATIONAL EVENTS
Sailing week runs from the last weekend in April, a major international sailing event with entries from all over the world. One of the few sailing events that is truly a spectator sport as there is excellent viewing over the racing areas from the heights around Nelson’s Dockyard and other vantage points as well as from spectator boats.
Carnival Week runs from the last week of July to the 1st Tuesday in August, a distinctive national festival.
Antigua Charter Yacht Show (ACYM) runs from the 2nd week in December, this is one of the major events on the large yacht calendar and brings together a large number of the best of the world’s superyachts with brokers arranging charters on them. Visitors can walk around the three marinas and admire all the boats as well as enjoy the supporting activities.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and some European and Commonwealth countries do not require a visa to visit Antigua and Barbuda.
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