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World > North America > Antigua and Barbuda > Historical Highlights (Notes)

Antigua and Barbuda - Historical Highlights (Notes)


HISTORY
Antigua was first inhabited by the Siboney ('stone people'), whose settlements date at least to 2400 BC. The Arawaks--who originated in Venezuela and gradually migrated up the chain of islands now called the Lesser Antilles--succeeded the Siboney. The warlike Carib people drove the Arawaks from 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 the islands 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 town is named after him. Codrington and others brought slaves from Africa's west coast to work the plantations.

Antiguan slaves were emancipated in 1834, but remained economically dependent on the 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, which saw the birth of the trade union movement in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Antigua Trades and Labour Union became the political vehicle for Vere Cornwall Bird, who was elected as the Labour Union's president in 1943. The Antigua Labour Party (ALP), formed by Bird and other trade unionists, first ran candidates in the 1946 elections and became the majority party in 1951, 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, winning renewed mandates in every subsequent election under Vere Bird's leadership until 1994 and also under the leadership of his son, Lester Bird, up until March 2004, when the ALP lost power in national elections.

In the last elections on March 23, 2004, the United Progressive Party (UPP) won 12 of the 17 seats in Parliament. The main opposition ALP, now led by Steadroy 'Cutie' Benjamin, retained four seats.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Current Time - Ranking Positions - East Caribbean Dollar Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Current Time
Ranking Positions
East Caribbean Dollar Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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