The nation's first settlers were the Siboneys (meaning 'stone-people')
about 200 years ago. Around 1200 AD, they were forced out by the
raiding Caribs, who ranged from all over the Caribbean. Christopher
Columbus discovered Antigua on his second trip to the Caribbean,
in 1493 and named it after a church in Seville, Spain. When the
British colonized Antigua in 1632, the island subsequently entered
the sugar era.
By the end of the eighteenth century, Antigua had become an important
strategic port as well as a valuable commercial colony, known as
the 'Gateway to the Caribbean'.
Unlike most other Caribbean islands, which fell under the flags
of different empires virtually every few decades, Antigua remained
under the British government before gaining its independence in
Antigua's traditional West Indian roots are apparent in the architecture
found around the island. Steel bands, limbo dances, calypso and
reggae music are typical of any festivities. You can also see English
influences in the island's social make-up, evident in the popularity
of Anglicanism and cricket.
While Barbuda shares the West Indian culture of its larger neighbour,
it has its own peculiar traits. Most of its population are descendants
of a small group of slaves brought to the island in the late 1600s
and somehow or other, they have turned out a population of inordinately