The nation of Antigua, officially made up of twin islands Antigua and Barbuda along with a handful of smaller islands, is an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations located between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It is a popular vacation destination, due to its easy accessibility by plane or cruise ship, and is known to both residents and visitors as the “Land of 365 Beaches” – one for each day of the year.
Antigua’s bountiful beaches have contributed to the growth of its tourism industry, and this has inspired many local businesses to accept U.S. dollars in addition to the native currency, the East Caribbean dollar. In addition to enjoying the white sand shores, visitors to Antigua should look out for the native wildlife, which includes the world’s second largest colony of frigate birds, along with wild deer, donkeys, and sea turtles. The climate is consistently warm throughout the year, with some risk of tropical storms from July through October.
The native population is predominantly African or mixed African/Amerindian, with Standard (British) English as the primary and official language. Christians, particularly Anglicans, dominate the religious distribution at 74% of the total population, with other residents declaring themselves adherents to Judaism, Islam, Bahá’í, and Rastafari faiths. Over 90% of citizens are considered literate.
Antiguan culture is shaped by various international influences, from West Africa to Britain and the United States. Cricket is the national sport, and Antigua has produced a number of famous cricketers in addition to some promising track and field stars. Water sports are popular, in particular during Antigua Sailing Week, which draws boats from across the world. Antiguan cuisine combines local ingredients like corn, sweet potatoes, pineapples, plantains, and seafood with dishes from other Caribbean countries. Every August, Antigua celebrates ten days of Carnival, commemorating the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies in 1834.