U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BACKGROUND NOTES:  ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
PUBLISHED BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
NOVEMBER 1994

Official Name:  Antigua and Barbuda

PROFILE

Geography 

Area:  Antigua--281 sq. km. (108 sq. mi.);  Barbuda--161 sq. km. (62 sq. 
mi.).  Cities:  Capital--St. Johns (pop.  30,000).
Terrain:  Generally low-lying, with highest elevation 405 m. (1,330 
ft.).
Climate:  Tropical maritime. 

People

Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Antiguan(s), Barbudan(s).
Population:  64,000.
Annual growth rate:  1%.
Ethnic groups:  Almost entirely of African origin; some of British, 
Portuguese, Lebanese, and Syrian origin.
Religions:  Principally Anglican, with evangelical Protestant and Roman 
Catholic minorities.
Language:  English (official), local dialects.
Education:  Years compulsory--9.  Literacy--about 90%.
Health:  Life expectancy--71 yrs. male, 75 yrs. female.  Infant 
mortality rate--19/1,000.
Work force (32,000):  Sectors--commerce and services, agriculture, other 
industry.


Government

Type:  Constitutional monarchy with Westminster-style parliament.
Constitution:  1981.
Independence:  November 1, 1981.
Branches:  Executive--governor general (representing Queen Elizabeth II, 
head of state), prime minister (head of government), and cabinet.  
Legislative--a 17-member Senate appointed by the governor general 
(mainly on the advice of the prime minister and the leader of the 
opposition) and a 17-member popularly elected House of Representatives.  
Judicial--Court of Appeal, chief justice, five justices.
Administrative subdivisions:  Six parishes and two dependencies (Barbuda 
and Redonda).
Political parties:  Antigua Labor Party (ruling), United National 
Democratic Party, Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement.
Suffrage:  Universal at 18.


Economy 

GDP (1991):  $411 million.
Annual growth rate (1991):  2.6%.
Per capita GDP:  $6,500.
Natural resources:  Negligible.
Agriculture (4% of GDP):  Products--cotton, livestock, vegetables.
Industry:  Types--tourism 40%, transport 12%, construction 9%, 
manufacturing 3%.
Trade (1991 est.):  Exports--$32 mil-lion.  Trading partners--CARICOM, 
U.S.  Imports--$353 million.  Trading partners--U.S., CARICOM, U.K.
Official exchange rate:  Eastern Caribbean $2.70=U.S. $1.  


PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Antigua was first inhabited by the Siboney ("stone people"), whose 
settlements date at least to 2400 BC.  Between 35 and 1100 AD, the 
Arawak people resided on Antigua.  This group originated in Venezuela 
and gradually migrated up the chain of islands now called the Lesser 
Antilles.  The warlike Carib people drove out the Arawak from 
strongholds on neighboring islands but apparently did not settle on 
either Antigua or Barbuda.

Christopher Columbus landed on the islands in 1493, naming the larger 
one "Santa Maria de la Antigua."  The English colonized in 1632.  Sir 
Christopher Codrington established the first large sugar estate in 
Antigua in 1674 and leased Barbuda to raise provisions for his 
plantations.  Barbuda's only village is named for him.  Codrington and 
others brought slaves from Africa's west coast to work the plantations.

Antiguan slaves were emancipated in 1834 but remained bound to their 
plantation owners.  Economic opportunities for the new freedmen were 
limited by a lack of surplus farming land, no access to credit, and an 
economy built on agriculture rather than manufacturing.  Poor labor 
conditions persisted until 1939, when a member of a royal commission 
urged the formation of a trade union movement.

The Antigua Trades and Labor Union, formed shortly afterward, became the 
political vehicle for Vere Cornwall Bird, who became the union's 
president in 1943.  The Antigua Labor Party (ALP), formed by Bird and 
other trade unionists, first ran candidates in the 1946 elections, 
beginning a long history of electoral victories.

Voted out of office in the 1971 general elections that swept the 
Progressive Labor Movement into power, Bird and the ALP returned to 
office in 1976; the party won renewed mandates in the general elections 
in 1984 and 1989.  In the 1989 elections, the ruling ALP won all but two 
of the 17 seats.

During elections in March 1994, power passed from Vere Bird to his son 
Lester Bird but remained within the Antigua Labor Party.  The ALP won 10 
of the 17 parliamentary seats.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

As head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II is represented in 
Antigua and Barbuda by a governor general who acts on the advice of the 
prime minister and the cabinet.

Antigua and Barbuda has a bicameral legislature:  a 17-member Senate 
appointed by the governor general--mainly on the advice of the prime 
minister and the leader of the opposition--and a 17-member popularly 
elected House of Representatives.  The prime minister is the leader of 
the majority party in the House and conducts affairs of state with the 
cabinet.  The prime minister and the cabinet are responsible to the 
parliament, which normally has a life of five years.

Antiguans have enjoyed a long history of free and fair elections with 
peaceful changes of government. Constitutional safeguards include 
freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association.  Like its 
neighbors in the English-speaking Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda has an 
excellent human rights record.  Its judicial system is modeled on 
British practice and procedure and its jurisprudence on English Common 
Law. 

Principal Government Officials
 
Chief of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Sir Wilfred Ebenezer Jacobs 
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs--Lester Bryant Bird
Ambassador to the U.S. and the OAS--Patrick Albert Lewis 
Ambassador to the United Nations--Lionel A. Hurst 

Antigua and Barbuda maintain an embassy in the United States at 3216 New 
Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 (tel. 202-362-5122).


ECONOMY

Sugar cultivation was Antigua and Barbuda's major export earner until 
1960, when prices fell dramatically and crippled the industry.  By 1972, 
the industry was largely dismantled.  The agricultural pattern in 
Antigua has shifted to a multiple cropping system.  Fruit and vegetable 
production predominates, but the Antiguan Government has encouraged 
investment in livestock, cotton, and export-oriented food crops.

Currently, the economy is based on services rather than manufacturing.  
Tourism is the backbone of the economy, and the major source of visitors 
is the United States.  Tourism is the principal source of foreign 
exchange for the country and directly produces about 17% of the gross 
domestic product and indirectly at least 40%.  Antigua and Barbuda have 
more than 3,300 hotel rooms to accommodate tourists.

For the most part, the environment for private sector investment and 
business activity in Antigua is excellent.  The government encourages 
both domestic and foreign private investment.  Government policies 
provide liberal tax holidays, duty-free import of equipment and 
materials, and subsidies for training provided to local personnel.  
Private business also benefits from a stable political environment, good 
transportation to and from the island, a relatively low-cost work force, 
and a pleasant climate.  The country also has a reasonably sound 
infrastructure.

Nontraditional exports have grown in importance in recent years.  
Foreign investors, lured by Antigua's good transportation connections to 
North America and Europe, have set up light manufacturing industries on 
the island, primarily in the finished textile and electronic component 
assembly sectors. 

Antigua and Barbuda are beneficiaries of the U.S. Caribbean Basin 
Initiative.  They also belong to the 13-member Caribbean Community and 
Common Market (CARICOM), which has signed a framework agreement with the 
United States to promote trade and investment in the region.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Antigua maintains diplomatic relations with the United States, Canada, 
the United Kingdom, and China, as well as with many Latin American 
countries and neighboring Eastern Caribbean states.  It is a member of 
the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Organization of American 
States, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the Caribbean 
Regional Security System.

As a member of CARICOM, Antigua and Barbuda strongly backed efforts by 
the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, 
designed to facilitate the departure of Haiti's de facto authorities 
from power.  The country agreed to contribute personnel to the 
Multinational Force, which restored the democratically elected 
Government of Haiti in October 1994.


U.S.-ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA RELATIONS
 
Since Antigua's independence in 1981, U.S. relations with the island 
nation have been very friendly.  The United States seeks to help Antigua 
develop economically and to help strengthen its democratic political 
system.  Antigua and Barbuda is strategically placed in the Leeward 
Islands near maritime transport lanes of major importance to the United 
States.  Antigua affords U.S. citizens the same legal protections that 
its own citizens enjoy.  It is visited by more than 170,000 tourists 
from the United States and elsewhere each year and has become more 
popular with U.S. retirees.

Antigua long has hosted a U.S. military presence.  Currently, a U.S. Air 
Force tracking facility and a naval training facility provide useful 
services for the United States, as well as jobs and income for 
Antiguans.  Antigua also benefits from a number of regional U.S. Agency 
for International Development (USAID) programs, although these programs 
will diminish with the FY 1996 closure of the regional USAID office in 
Barbados.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador-designate--Jeanette W. Hyde
Deputy Chief of Mission--Tain P. Tompkins
Political/Economic Counselor--Thomas R. Hutson
Consul General--Dale Shaffer
Regional Labor Attache--Peggy Zabriskie
Economic-Commercial Officer--Carole Jackson
Public Affairs Officer--Tyrone Kemp
USAID Regional Director--Mosina Jordan
Peace Corps Director--James Scanlon (resident in St. Lucia)

The United States maintains no official presence in Antigua.  The 
ambassador and embassy officers are resident in Barbados and travel to 
Antigua frequently.

The U.S. embassy in Barbados is located in the Canadian Imperial 
Bank of Commerce Building, Broad Street, Bridgetown (tel:  809-436-4950; 
fax:  809-429-5246).   

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