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History of Antigua

Pre-Colonial Antigua was originally inhabited by the Siboney ("stone people" in the Arawak language) Indians, whose hand-crafted shell and stone tools have been found at archaeological sites around the island. Some of these artifacts have been dated back to 1775 B.C.

The next inhabitants of Antigua were the Arawak Indians, moving in about 35 AD and living here until about 1100 AD. These farmers were overthrown by the warlike Caribs, a people known for their cannibalism. The Caribs named the island Wadadli (today that's the name of the local beer).

In 1493 Christopher Columbus named the island in honor of Santa Maria de La Antigua of Seville, a saint at whose namesake church Columbus had prayed before his journey to the Americas. Even after European discovery, however, things stayed quiet here for a century, however, mostly due to the fierce Caribs and the island's lack of freshwater.

In 1632 an English party from St.. Kitts landed on Antigua and claimed it for Britain, starting a relationship that endured nearly three and a half centuries. In 1981, Antigua and Barbuda gained their full independence.

When European settlement began, Antigua was developed as a sugar-producing island and English Harbour became a home base for the British naval fleet. Admiral Horatio Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero, directed his campaigns from the Dockyard at English Harbour.

In 1834, slavery was abolished and the sugar industry faltered. A century later, it was replaced by the development of the tourism industry.

In 1967, Antigua became the first of the Eastern Caribbean countries to attain internal self government as a State in association with Great Britain as part of the West Indies Act. Full independence was achieved on November 1, 1981.


1775 B.C. Occupation of island by Siboney Indians.
35 A.D. Occupation of island by Arawak Indians.
1100 Overthrow of the island by Carib Indians.
1493 European discover by Christopher Columbus.
1632 Antigua claimed for Great Britain.
1834 Slavery was abolished.
1967 Antigua attained internal self government
1981 Antigua achieved full independence.

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