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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.
The indigenous people on Antigua & Barbuda,
the Caribs, were quickly killed by European diseases and
the Europeans themselves. The islands were quickly taken over by the
British and British culture made its way to the country. Most people today
speak English and most of the population is religiously Anglican.
More important to the modern culture though, sugarcane made its way to
Antigua & Barbuda and with sugarcane manual labor is needed. As much
of the local population had already died by this point, the
British brought in slaves from Africa in large
numbers, soon making them a substantial majority on the islands.
The British controlled the island for much of
history as the Africans, even after being freed from slavery,
have essentially held the position of second rate citizen. This has led to the growth
of a British culture and a somewhat distinct African-based culture, which today
dominates the islands.
The people on Antigua & Barbuda today continue
to live off the land and the sea, but the culture has become quite vibrant due to
their African roots in art, music, and food. The islands have also gained a growing
diversity as tourism has increased and the service industry is rapidly growing.
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