History of Antigua
|Antigua was first inhabited by the Siboney ("stone people"), whose settlements date at least to 2400 BC. The Siboney were succeeded by the Arawaks, who originated in Venezuela and gradually migrated up the chain of islands now called the Lesser Antilles. The warlike Carib people drove the Arawaks from neighboring islands but apparently did not settle on either Antigua or Barbuda.
In 1493, Columbus arrived in Antigua and named it Antigua after the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville. In 1632, the English arrived from nearby St. Kitts and established a settlement, the first of its kind from Europe. The island remained British ruled until 1967 except for a brief French occupation.
Similar to other Caribbean lands, Antigua was turned into a sugar-producing island. Slaves were imported from African countries until 1838, when slavery was abolished.
The headquarters for the English fleet was located at the Dockyard in English Harbour during the 1700’s and 1800’s when the sugar producing islands were of enormous value to Europe. The senior officer of the Dockyard station from the years of 1784 to 1787 was Lord Nelson. Consequently today, The Dockyard and English Harbour are known as Nelson’s Dockyard. Prince William Henry, the Duke of Clarence, who later became King William IV, was stationed as a captain under Lord Nelson. His residence was the Clarence House.
The status of Associated Statehood with Britain was first achieved in the Eastern Caribbean islands by Antigua in 1967. It formed a full government while the British would still be responsible for defense and some other aspects of external affairs. On November 1, 1981, Antigua and Barbuda was granted full independence.
Antigua is still a part of the Commonwealth of Nations and the 157th member of the United Nations. Other memberships owned by Antigua are in the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Common Market (Caricom), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).