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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
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.
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