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Antigua and Barbuda

Introduction

Antigua and Barbuda (ăntēˈgə, –gwə, bärbuˈdə) [key], independent Commonwealth nation (2005 est. pop. 68,700), 171 sq mi (442 sq km), West Indies, in the Leeward Islands. It consists of the island of Antigua (108 sq mi/280 sq km) and two smaller islands, the more sparsely populated Barbuda (62 sq mi/161 sq km) and uninhabited Redonda (0.6 sq mi/1.6 sq km). Saint John's, on Antigua, is the capital. Antigua is a hilly island with a heavily indented coast, while Barbuda is a flat coral island dominated by a large lagoon on its western side. Most residents are of African ancestry. Anglicanism is the predominant religion. Tourism is the most important industry, and the on-line gambling and offshore financial services sectors generate additional foreign currency earnings. The last two sectors have been hurt, however, by a 2006 U.S. ban on the processing of payments to on-line gambling firms and by the 2009 collapse, due to fraud, of the bank that was the nation's largest employer. Agriculture, fishing, and manufacturing (bedding, handicrafts, and electronics) also contribute to the economy. There is a U.S. air force tracking station on the north coast of Antigua. Periodic hurricanes can cause heavy damage to the islands. The country has a parliamentary-style government with a bicameral legislature. The British monarch is the titular head of state, but primary executive power lies with the prime minister. Many inhabitants of Barbuda, culturally and politically distinct from Antiguans, have pressed for independence from the larger island.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Caribbean Political Geography


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