Antigua History


Formally known as Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua enjoys independent nation status, rich in British and European tradition.

Antigua’s first settlements date back to 2400 B.C., when the island was inhabited by Meso-indians known as the Siboney or “stone people.” Siboney artifacts include tools expertly crafted from seashells and stones.

Following the Siboney, Antigua was settled and inhabited by the Arawak Indians from about 35—1100 A.D. The Arawaks, believed to be an agricultural-based society, were eventually displaced by the Carib Indians, who resided throughout the Caribbean.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus sighted Antigua, and named it after the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville. A group of Englishmen arrived in Antigua in 1632, and established the first European settlement on the island.

In 1674, Sir Christopher Codrington arrived in Antigua from Barbados, and soon established a thriving sugar cane industry. The island was dotted with over 150 cane-processing windmills. Many of the stone mill towers can still be seen today, along with Codrington’s restored mill at the Betty’s Hope plantation.

By the mid-1700s, Antigua became a strategically important economic and military center. Lord Horatio Nelson commanded the British fleet from Antigua’s Dockyard at English Harbour from 1784 to 1787. Slavery was abolished in Antigua in 1834, and the island’s sugar cane industry was slowly replaced by other agricultural and commercial developments.

With the exception of a brief French occupation in 1666-67, the island remained under British rule until 1967. In 1967, Antigua became Associated Statehood status with Great Britain.

Antigua achieved full independence in 1981, and remains part of the Commonwealth of Nations and a member of the United Nations.

Today, Antigua ranks among the Caribbean’s best known and most sought after tourism destinations. The island boasts, “365 Beaches…one for each day of the year.”

Antigua also enjoys thriving banking and offshore service sectors, making the island one of the world’s most popular banking and investment centers.