25 interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda

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The most interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda, from pink-sand beaches to a mountain renamed in honour of President Obama.

A pin-hued sandy beach and clue skies – one of the interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda
Interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda include its pink beaches (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Antigua and Barbuda
Population: 99,175 
Area: 443 sq km
Capital city: Saint John’s
Major languages: English, Antiguan creole
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC-4 (Atlantic Time Zone)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda

1. Antigua and Barbuda is an island nation located in the West Indies of the Caribbean, consisting of two main islands – Antigua and Barbuda – as well as the small uninhabited island of Redonda and several even smaller islands.
– Source: Britannica

2. Antigua and Barbuda has been inhabited since at least 2400 BC. The Siboney are thought to be the first people to inhabit the islands followed by Arawak Indians.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

3. Antigua is home to approximately 97% of the population. Nearly all of Barbuda’s population live in the settlement of Codrington.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

A map of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda is located in the Caribbean (Shutterstock)

4. In 1493, Christopher Columbus became the first European to visit Antigua, naming it after the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville, Spain.
– Source: BBC News

5. Antigua and Barbuda became independent in 1981 after centuries of British rule who first colonised Antigua in 1632.
– Source: BBC News

6. The flag of Antigua and Barbuda has red triangles at the ends with a central triangular area of white, blue and black stripes, and a sun. Red represents the people working for their own destiny, the V-shape is for victory, black is for the majority population and the soil, blue for the sea, white for the beaches and the sun for the climate.
– Source: Britannica

The Antigua and Barbuda flag flying against blue skies
The national flag (Shutterstock)

7. In 2009, Antigua renamed its highest mountain, Boggy Peak, to Mt Obama. The 402m (1,319ft) peak was renamed in honour of US President Obama on August 4th, his birthday. Despite the change, it is still referred to by its original name.
– Source: National Public Radio (NPR), Lonely Planet

8. Legendary West Indian cricketer Sir Viv Richards is from Antigua and Barbuda. Richards is widely considered one of the world’s greatest batsmen and even has a stadium named after him in Antigua.
– Source: ESPN

9. The Antigua Carnival begins in late July and culminates on the first Monday or Tuesday in August. The free-spirited event celebrates the abolition of slavery on 1st August 1834 and features parades, music, dancing and colourful costumes.
– Source: Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), Lonely Planet

3 brightly costumed participants at Antigua Carnival – one of the interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda
Participants at Antigua Carnival (Shutterstock)

10. Codrington Lagoon National Park in Barbuda has one of the world’s largest colonies of frigate birds – and the largest in the western hemisphere – with over 2,500 birds roosting there.
– Source: ABTA, Lonely Planet

11. In 2017, Barbuda was struck by Hurricane Irma with winds of up to 185mph (666kmph) winds damaging an estimated 90% of properties on the island.
– Source: The Guardian

12. Antigua’s national dish is pepperpot, a hearty stew of meat and vegetables often served with fungi (fungee), which are cornmeal patties or dumplings.
– Source: Lonely Planet

A serving of pepperpot and fungi – one of the interesting facts about Antigua and Barbuda
A serving of pepperpot and fungi (Shutterstock)

13. There are no rivers and few springs in Antigua which means droughts occur despite a significant mean annual rainfall of around 1,000 mm (40 inches).
– Source: Britannica

14. Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous countries, relying heavily on its tourism industry and offshore financial services.
– Source: BBC News

15. Antigua and Barbuda has one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites. The site, built by enslaved Africans in the 18th century, consists of a group of Georgian-style naval defensive buildings and structures.
– Source: UNESCO

The Antigua Naval Dockyard
Antigua Naval Dockyard (Shutterstock)

16. The people of Antigua and Barbuda are among the world’s lightest smokers, on average smoking just 89.22 cigarettes per person per year – the fifth-lowest nation globally.
– Source: The Tobacco Atlas

17. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, has played a major role in the country’s history with thousands of slaves transported from Africa to work on tobacco and then sugarcane plantations before the practice was abolished in 1834.
– Source: BBC News, Smithsonian Magazine

18. Unique among the West Indies, Antigua emancipated all its slaves at the first opportunity in 1834. The island’s entire plantation workforce of 32,000 was freed at midnight on August 1st 1834 – the earliest date mandated by Britain’s act of emancipation.
– Source: Smithsonian Magazine

A restored windmill from a plantation
A restored windmill from a plantation (Shutterstock)

19. Antigua and Barbuda is home to the world’s rarest snake. The critically endangered Antiguan racer snake can only be found only on Bird Island off the coast of Antigua.
– Source: Cambridge University Press

20. Barbuda is Spanish for “bearded” which likely refers to either the beards of the indigenous people or to the island’s bearded fig trees.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

21. The uninhabited island of Redonda in Antigua and Barbuda had become stripped of its flora and fauna by invasive rats and feral goats. But in 2016, conservation work began rounding up the goats and poisoning the rats. The island has now rebounded and is rich in vegetation and teeming with birdlife.
– Source: National Geographic

before and after photos of Redonda island
Redonda has rebounded with vegetation (Jenny Daltry and Cole White)

22. Barbuda is famous for its pink-hued sandy beaches, caused by the presence of a microscopic organism that has a reddish-pink shell in the sand.
– Source: Reader’s Digest

23. Antigua and Barbuda supposedly has 365 beaches – one for every day of the year.
– Source: Frommers

An idyllic scene of green vegetation and beaches and the sea
Antigua and Barbuda is famed for its beaches (Shutterstock)

24. Previously known as Coco Point Beach, there is a beach called Princess Diana Beach in Antigua and Barbuda. The exclusive beach was renamed in honour of what would have been her 50th birthday in 2011.
– Source: Lonely Planet

25. At just 443 sq km, Antigua and Barbuda is one of the world’s smallest countries by area.
– Source: World Bank

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Antigua and Barbuda using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.