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Antigua & BarbudaThe name of Antigua has very specific origins, but the island of Barbuda has a more confusing past. Antigua was named Santa Maria la Antigua after a cathedral in Seville, Spain, a name most likely given to the island by Christopher Columbus in 1493; "Antigua" means "ancient" in this use. Sometimes Antigua is still known by its indigenous name, Wadadli, which means "our own" in the Carib language.

Like the island of Barbados, the name Barbuda may have the same origin, which means "bearded." Barbuda was called los Barbuadas, a name likely given by either the Portuguese or Spanish. However, how or what was bearded is up for debate. Despite European name, the island has had numerous variations before settling on the current "Barbuda."


Antigua & Barbuda may not seem like an ideal place to live as the islands get little rain and no rivers exist. None-the-less, there is some sustainable agriculture on the islands and this, in conjunction with the sea animals off the coast, is enough to sustain life, although at times in the past it was a very difficult life.

The indigenous people on Antigua & Barbuda, the Caribs, lived simple lives based on the lands and seas, giving them a lifestyle common throughout the Caribbean at the time. However, the islands weren't ideal for crop growth so the population remained small. With the arrival of the Europeans, most of the Caribs on Antigua & Barbuda were killed by diseases and battles as much of this past culture was destroyed. The islands were quickly taken over by the British and British culture made its way to the country in nearly every way.

Despite British arrival to the islands, the greatest cultural influences from their rule over the islands came in the form of slavery. Sugarcane made its way to Antigua & Barbuda and with sugarcane manual labor is needed. As much of the local Carib population had died, the British brought in slaves from Africa in large numbers to work the sugarcane industry, soon making ethnic Africans a substantial majority on the islands.

As the land and slave owners, the British maintained aspects of their culture, but the Africans also changed the culture substantially. Most people today speak English and most of the population is religiously Anglican, however African-influenced music, dance, dress, and food are also important parts of the culture today. The culture has changed over time, but these two driving influences remain as the culture is still rooted in British structure, order, and communication, while African socialization rules.

Although the culture is every developing, the lifestyle on the islands is still reliant on the lands as most people today continue to live off the land and the sea. The islands have also gained a growing diversity as tourism has increased and the services industry is rapidly growing to cater to this developing source of income.

Information for Antigua & Barbuda was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks