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Antigua and Barbuda Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Antigua and Barbuda Map

Introduction

Background

The Siboney were the first people to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 B.C., but Arawak Indians populated the islands when COLUMBUS landed on his second voyage in 1493. Early Spanish and French settlements were succeeded by an English colony in 1667. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, was abolished in 1834. The islands became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981. On 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma passed over the island of Barbuda devastating the island and forcing the evacuation of the population to Antigua. Almost all the structures on Barbuda were destroyed and the vegetation stripped, but Antigua was spared the worst.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east-southeast of Puerto Rico

Geographic coordinates

17 03 N, 61 48 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 443 sq km (Antigua 280 sq km; Barbuda 161 sq km)

land: 442.6 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: includes Redonda, 1.6 sq km

country comparison to the world: 200

Area - comparative

2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

153 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate

tropical maritime; little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain

mostly low-lying limestone and coral islands, with some higher volcanic areas

Elevation

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Mount Obama 402 m

Natural resources

NEGL; pleasant climate fosters tourism

Land use

agricultural land: 20.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 9% (2018 est.)

forest: 18.8% (2018 est.)

other: 60.8% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

1.3 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

the island of Antigua is home to approximately 97% of the population; nearly the entire population of Barbuda lives in Codrington

Natural hazards

hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October); periodic droughts

Geography - note

Antigua has a deeply indented shoreline with many natural harbors and beaches; Barbuda has a large western harbor

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Antigua and Barbuda

etymology: "antiguo" is Spanish for "ancient" or "old"; the island was discovered by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and, according to tradition, named by him after the church of Santa Maria la Antigua (Old Saint Mary's) in Seville; "barbuda" is Spanish for "bearded" and the adjective may refer to the alleged beards of the indigenous people or to the island's bearded fig trees

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Saint John's

geographic coordinates: 17 07 N, 61 51 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after Saint John the Apostle

Administrative divisions

6 parishes and 2 dependencies*; Barbuda*, Redonda*, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Mary, Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint Philip

Independence

1 November 1981 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 November (1981)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest presented 31 July 1981, effective 31 October 1981 (The Antigua and Barbuda Constitution Order 1981)

amendments: proposed by either house of Parliament; passage of amendments to constitutional sections such as citizenship, fundamental rights and freedoms, the establishment, power, and authority of the executive and legislative branches, the Supreme Court Order, and the procedure for amending the constitution requires approval by at least two-thirds majority vote of the membership of both houses, approval by at least two-thirds majority in a referendum, and assent to by the governor general; passage of other amendments requires only two-thirds majority vote by both houses; amended 2009, 2011, 2018

Legal system

common law based on the English model

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Rodney WILLIAMS (since 14 August 2014)

head of government: Prime Minister Gaston BROWNE (since 13 June 2014)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (17 seats; members appointed by the governor general)
House of Representatives (18 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: 
Senate - last appointed on 26 March 2018 (next NA)
House of Representatives - last held on 21 March 2018 (next to be held in March 2023)

election results: 
Senate -  composition - men 8, women 9, percent of women 52.9%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - ABLP 59.4%, UPP 37.2%, BPM 1.4%, other 1.9% ; seats by party - ABLP 15, UPP 1, BPM 1; composition - men 16, women 2, percent of women 11.1%; note - total Parliament percent of women 31.4%

Judicial branch

highest courts: the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the superior court of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; the ECSC - headquartered on St. Lucia - consists of the Court of Appeal - headed by the chief justice and 4 judges - and the High Court with 18 judges; the Court of Appeal is itinerant, travelling to member states on a schedule to hear appeals from the High Court and subordinate courts; High Court judges reside in the member states, with 2 assigned to Antigua and Barbuda

judge selection and term of office: chief justice of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court appointed by the Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62

subordinate courts: Industrial Court; Magistrates' Courts

Political parties and leaders

Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement or ACLM
Antigua Labor Party or ABLP [Gaston BROWNE]
Antigua Barbuda True Labor Party or ABTLP [Sharlene SAMUEL]
Barbuda People's Movement or BPM [Trevor WALKER]
Barbuda People's Movement for Change [Arthur NIBBS]
Barbudans for a Better Barbuda [Ordrick SAMUEL]
Democratic National Alliance or DNA [Joanne MASSIAH]
Go Green for Life [Owen GEORGE]
Progressive Labor Movement or PLM
United National Democratic Party or UNDP
United Progressive Party or UPP [Harold LOVELL] (a coalition of ACLM, PLM, UNDP)

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Sir Ronald SANDERS (since 17 September 2015)

chancery: 3234 Prospect Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 362-5122

FAX: [1] (202) 362-5525

consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Antigua and Barbuda; the US Ambassador to Barbados is accredited to Antigua and Barbuda

Flag description

red, with an inverted isosceles triangle based on the top edge of the flag; the triangle contains three horizontal bands of black (top), light blue, and white, with a yellow rising sun in the black band; the sun symbolizes the dawn of a new era, black represents the African heritage of most of the population, blue is for hope, and red is for the dynamism of the people; the "V" stands for victory; the successive yellow, blue, and white coloring is also meant to evoke the country's tourist attractions of sun, sea, and sand

National symbol(s)

fallow deer; national colors: red, white, blue, black, yellow

National anthem

name: Fair Antigua, We Salute Thee

lyrics/music: Novelle Hamilton RICHARDS/Walter Garnet Picart CHAMBERS

note: adopted 1967; as a Commonwealth country, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

Tourism continues to dominate Antigua and Barbuda's economy, accounting for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment. The dual-island nation's agricultural production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labor shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction. Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components.

Like other countries in the region, Antigua's economy was severely hit by effects of the global economic recession in 2009. The country suffered from the collapse of its largest private sector employer, a steep decline in tourism, a rise in debt, and a sharp economic contraction between 2009 and 2011. Antigua has not yet returned to its pre-crisis growth levels. Barbuda suffered significant damages after hurricanes Irma and Maria passed through the Caribbean in 2017.

Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on tourist arrivals from the US, Canada, and Europe and could be disrupted by potential damage from natural disasters. The new government, elected in 2014 and led by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, continues to face significant fiscal challenges. The government places some hope in a new Citizenship by Investment Program, to both reduce public debt levels and spur growth, and a resolution of a WTO dispute with the US.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 24,403

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 25.15 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 187,095

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 192.82 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 184

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: good automatic telephone system with fiber-optic lines; telecom sector contributes heavily to GDP; numerous mobile network competitors licensed, but small and local; govt. to spend EC80 million in 2019 to improve state-owned telecom market competitiveness; legislative amendments extend jurisdiction of its telecom regulator in Barbuda to include mobile services (2020)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity roughly 25 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity is about 193 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 1-268; landing points for the ECFS and Southern Caribbean Fiber submarine cable systems with links to other islands in the eastern Caribbean; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

state-controlled Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service (ABS) operates 1 TV station; multi-channel cable TV subscription services are available; ABS operates 1 radio station; roughly 15 radio stations, some broadcasting on multiple frequencies

Internet country code

.ag

Internet users

total: 72,870

percent of population: 76% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 185

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 9,261

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 10 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 10

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 580,174 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 290,000 mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

V2 (2016)

Airports

total: 3 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 192

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2 (2019)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

under 914 m: 1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1 (2013)

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Roadways

total: 1,170 km (2011)

paved: 386 km (2011)

unpaved: 784 km (2011)

country comparison to the world: 180

Merchant marine

total: 727

by type: bulk carrier 27, container ship 135, general cargo 507, oil tanker 2, other 56 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 32

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Saint John's

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force (ABDF): Coast Guard and the Antigua and Barbuda Regiment (2021)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force (ABDF) has approximately 200 active personnel (2019)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the ABDF's equipment inventory is limited to small arms, light weapons, and soft-skin vehicles; the Coast Guard maintains ex-US patrol vessels and some smaller boats (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; Governor-General has powers to call up men for national service and set the age at which they could be called up (2012)

Military - note

member of the Regional Security System (RSS), an international agreement for the defense and security of the eastern Caribbean region

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Antigua and Barbuda is a destination and transit country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; forced prostitution has been reported in bars, taverns, and brothels, while forced labor occurs in domestic service and the retail sector

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Antigua and Barbuda does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government made no discernible progress in convicting traffickers in 2014 but charged two individuals in separate cases; efforts to convict traffickers have been impeded by a 2014 ruling that found the 2010 anti-trafficking act was unconstitutional because jurisdiction rests with the Magistrate’s Court rather than the High Court; no new prosecutions, convictions, or punishments were recorded in 2014; credible sources have raised concerns about trafficking-related complicity among some off-duty police officers, which could hinder investigations or victims willingness to report offenses; prevention efforts were sustained, but progress in protecting victims was uneven; seven victims were assisted, which was an increase over 2013 (2015)

Illicit drugs

considered a minor transshipment point for narcotics bound for the US and Europe; more significant as an offshore financial center

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