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Barbuda

Barbuda, island (2011 pop. 1,638), 62 sq mi (161 sq km), a dependency of Antigua and Barbuda). Located in the central Leeward Islands, Barbuda lies 25 mi (40 km) N of Antigua. A flat coral island 15 mi (24 km) long and up to 8 mi (13 km) wide, it is dominated by a large lagoon on the northwest. Codrington is the main settlement. Most inhabitants are of African descent and practice Protestantism but are culturally distinct from Antiguans, and as a result some have pressed for independence from the larger, more populous island. Tourism is the most important industry; there also is subsistence farming and agricultural processing.

Inhabited by Caribs and Arawaks, Barbuda was visited by Columbus (1493); Spain and France established settlements before it was colonized by England from Antigua in 1678. The Codrington family held rights to the island from 1685 to the late 19th cent., when it reverted to the British crown, eventually becoming a dependency of Antigua. Under a 19th cent. practice legally codified in 2007, all land on Barbuda has been owned communally. The island suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Luis in 1995, and was devastated by Irma and temporarily evacuated in 2017; most Barbudans are still in shelters on Antigua. A law revoking communal land ownership was enacted in 2018, ostensibly to protect development and help restore the island, but many Barbudans regarded it as a land grab and challenged its legality.

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

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