Anguilla, derived from “eel” in a number of European languages, consists of one main island and several smaller islands and cays located in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico. It is noted for its spectacular coral reefs. The main island is approximately 16 miles long and 3 miles wide at its widest point; the shape is probably the inspiration for the island’s name.
Colonized by English settlers from Saint Kitts in 1650, Anguilla was administered by Great Britain until the early 19th century, when the island - against the wishes of the inhabitants - was incorporated into a single British dependency, along with Saint Kitts and Nevis. Several attempts at separation failed. In 1971, two years after a revolt, Anguilla was finally allowed to secede; this arrangement was formally recognized in 1980, with Anguilla becoming a separate British dependency.
The majority of the country’s 13,500 residents (over 90%) are descendants of African slaves brought to the region to work the sugar plantations. English is the official language, but most of the residents use Antigua & Barbuda Creole English (also known as Leeward Caribbean Creole English), variations of which can be found all over the Caribbean region.
Christianity predominates on Anguilla, with most claiming adherence to Anglican, Methodist or other Protestant traditions. A minority are Roman Catholics. One of the ‘prophets’ of Rastafarianism, Robert Athlyi Rogers, was born on Anguilla.