The nation of Antigua and Barbuda is made up of three islands that are a part of the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the easternmost Caribbean region. The two larger islands (Antigua and Barbuda) are populated; the tiny islet of Redonda is not.
The earliest inhabitants of this small island country were the Siboney (Ciboney) people. These were later supplanted by the Arawak people at around the time Columbus landed on Antigua on his second voyage in 1493. The island of Antigua was named Wadadli by the Arawak. There were some early settlements established by the Spanish and French; the English arrived in 1632 and by 1667 had established a colony there. The islands became an independent state as part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, in 1981.
The three islands have taken different turns in their development. Antigua has promoted tourism since the early 1960s and is the wealthiest of the three. (Locals say that the island has 365 beaches.) Barbuda has concentrated more on trying to balance resort development with natural resource preservation. Redonda, an extinct volcano lying 56 km southwest of Antigua, was early-on a site for mining of minerals, but has been uninhabited since the early 20th century.
The official language of Antigua and Barbuda is English, but many speak Antiguan Creole—an English based creole with roots in African languages spoken by imported slaves. Variations of the dialect are spoken widely in the region.
Christianity predominates on the islands, with the Anglican Church having the most influence, followed by Roman Catholicism. There are a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses present. Non Christian religions include Rastafarianism, Islam, Judaism and Baha’i.