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Fascinating Facts about Antigua and Barbuda

Raksha Kulkarni
Antigua and Barbuda is a major part of an island nation between Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. There are other islands included in the nation too. It features breathtaking beaches, historic ports, mild weather; which make it one of the most visited in the Caribbean.
Did you know that Barbuda Island has a coral origin whereas Antigua has a volcanic origin? We have listed out some interesting facts about them.
The total area of Antigua and Barbuda is 171 square miles and the total population is reported as 97,929 currently in 2020.
The capital Saint John’s covers an area of 4 square miles and was estimated to have a population of 22,000 in 2014. It has been the administrative center since 1631.
The islands have been inhabited for almost 5,000 years!
The name was given by Christopher Columbus and said to derive from Spanish. The word ‘Antigua’ translates to ‘ancient’ and Barbuda means ‘bearded’. The explanation still remains a mystery. Columbus was the first European to spot the island in 1493.
The English brought several West African slaves here to grow tobacco and sugar. The slaves suffered harsh conditions. Slavery finally stopped in 1834.
The islands gained independence on November 1, 1981; after 349 years of British rule.
The residents celebrate their freedom from slavery with a colorful 10-day carnival from July end to early August.
The carnival features parades with colorful costumes, talent shows, beauty pageants, and musical events.
Tourism is the primary source of income and it was estimated that 269 million tourists visited in 2018, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Apart from tourism, the economy is also laid on financial and investment banking services. Numerous world banks like Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays, and American International Bank have their offices here.
There are three offshore medical schools here named American University of Antigua, Metropolitan University College of Medicine, and Antigua School of Medicine.
English is the official language here but many people speak Antiguan Creole. The West African languages contribute in limited ways as most people here are West African.
Other Facts....
The islands are nicknamed ‘Land of 365 Beaches’ because of the abundant beaches. It is actually said that there are so many beaches that you can visit one beach per day of the year.
Though famous sports here are surfing, boat racing, and football; the national sport is cricket.
Antigua Black Pineapple is the official fruit and known to be ‘the world’s sweetest’ and one of the rarest variety. The golden pineapples are said to have higher sugar content and less acidity.
The highest point is Mount Obama, standing tall at 1319 feet. It was formerly known as the Boggy Peak but was renamed after Barack Obama on his birthday – August 4, in 2009.
Almost 95% of Barbuda was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Economic toll was huge, almost $136 million. Thankfully, residents were shifted to Antigua beforehand and so there was a low death count of 3.
Both islands have no permanent rivers or lakes due to lack of fresh groundwater. Only a few streams can be seen in the rainy season.