Antigua and Barbuda

Environment:

Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the middle of the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands, mostly low-lying limestone and coral islands, with some higher volcanic areas. The highest point is just 402 meters (1,319 feet), called Mount Obama since 2009. The country is nicknamed “Land of 365 Beaches” due to the many beaches surrounding the islands, which according to the Ocean Health Index rank among the world’s healthiest.

The major environment issue is water management – a concern because of limited natural freshwater resources – further hampered by the clearing of trees to increase crop production, causing rainfall to run off quickly. 20 percent of the land area is forested, and there are 6 known threatened species. Although Antigua and Barbuda have no Biosphere Reserves, nor IUCN members, in response to environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change, the United Nations has stepped in to assist the twin island nation with the aid of the Global Environment Facility, GEF Antigua. The Environment Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment also maintains a website to keep citizens informed about environmental issues. In 1989, the grassroots Environmental Awareness Group (EAG Antigua) was established for the express purpose of raising public awareness in support of conservation.

Barbuda is known for the Frigate Bird Sanctuary at Codrington Lagoon. Great Bird Island, just off the northeast coast of Antigua, is the only place on Earth where you can see an Antiguan Racer snake in the wild. The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project is a long-term research and conservation program, monitoring the hawksbill sea turtle nesting colony on Long Island. There is a Antigua & Barbuda Whale and Dolphin Network Facebook page, dedicated to sharing information about whale and dolphin sightings. Stingray City Antigua is a marine attraction featuring snorkeling with southern stingrays. The Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society maintains Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary.

Antigua Outdoors, a general website about outdoor recreation in Antigua, has a good listing of hikes and walks. Footsteps Rainforest Hiking Tours offers locally guided hiking tours to Wallings Dam and Signal Hill. Nearby, the Antigua Rain Forest Company offers zip line canopy tours. Adventure Antigua offers ecotours designed by local windsurfer Eli Fuller. Tropical Adventures and Rendezvous Antigua specialize in packaging shore excursions for cruise ships. Antigua Paddles offer kayak tours through mangroves and tiny islands. Kitesurf Antigua offers kitesurfing lessons and rentals on Jabberwock Beach. 40knots is a kitesurfing and windsurfing school at Nonsuch Bay Resort.

Protected Areas:

  • Betty’s Hope National Park
  • Black Ghaut-Ayres Creek Wildlife Reserve
  • Boggy Creek Wildlife Reserve
  • Bull Hole Other Area
  • Cades Bay Marine Reserve
  • Codrington Lagoon Wetlands of International Importance
  • Codrington Lagoon Wildlife Reserve
  • Corbison’s Point Other Area
  • Crump Island Coral Reef Marine Park
  • Darkwood Park Reserve
  • Devil’s Bridge Park Reserve
  • Diamond Reef Marine Park
  • Ffryes Bay Park Reserve
  • Fort James Park Reserve
  • Goat Island and The Flashes Wildlife Reserve
  • Great Bird and Guiana Bay Islands Marine Sanctuary
  • Great Bird Island (North Sound) Wildlife Reserve
  • Green Island (Mill Reef) Wildlife Reserve
  • Green Island Reefs Park Reserve
  • Guiana Island (North Sound) Wildlife Reserve
  • Half Moon Bay National Park
  • Long Island (North Sound) Wildlife Reserve
  • Mamora Reef Marine Sanctuary
  • Nelson’s Dockyard National Park
  • Northeast Archipelago Park Reserve
  • Palaster Reef Marine National Park
  • Santa Maria Hill Wildlife Reserve
  • Spanish Point Wildlife Reserve
  • Wallings Woodlands Wildlife Reserve

Culture:

The Ciboney people were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 BC, but Arawak and Carib people populated the islands when Columbus landed on his second voyage in 1493. Early settlements by the Spanish and French were succeeded by the English who formed a colony in 1667. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, was abolished in 1834. The islands became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981. According to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Antigua and Barbuda travel advice, there has been an increase in crime in Antigua over recent years, including gun crime, with 5 foreign tourists killed since 2008. For monitoring recent criminal activity, there is a Crime Stoppers Antigua website available.

In 2012, the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Tourism set up a Tourism Task Force focusing on visitor safety. Tourism dominates the economy; however, tourist activity has been weak since 2000. There is a Sustainable Tourism Unit of the Ministry of Tourism, and work has started on a Sustainable Tourism Development Plan. Antigua and Barbuda is not known as a gay friendly cruise port, offenses carry sentences up to 15 years in prison. In 2012, the government increased Antigua’s overall airport taxes to US$93.75, which is built into the cost of tickets.

Antigua and Barbuda have no official World Heritage sites, nor ICCROM members. The Archaeology Antigua website covers projects on the island, artifacts, and links to researchers. The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda, in the former St. John’s Courthouse, is managed by the Historical and Archaeological Society of Antigua and Barbuda. The National Parks Authority manages parks at Devil’s Bridge, Green Castle Hill, and Fort Barrington from their headquarters at Nelson’s Dockyard, including both The Dockyard Museum and Dow’s Hill Interpretation Centre. Other historic sites include Fort James, Betty’s Hope sugar plantation, and Shirley Heights Lookout. Art galleries include Brown’s Bay Mill Harmony Hall, and Sallie Harker’s Fig Tree Studio Art Gallery.

A major tourist attraction is the Antigua Carnival each August, commemorating the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies, rather than the traditional coming of Lent. Founded in 1967, the annual Antigua Sailing Week has become one of the top regattas in the world, attracting hundreds of yachts. There is also a newly popular Russian Business Regatta, called “Russian Business Sailing Week”. The Barbuda Express wave-piercing catamaran provides ferry service for the 90 minute run between Antigua and Barbuda islands.

References:

  • Built heritage conservation and tourism planning in Antigua: the case of Fort George, Monk’s Hill by FD Southwell, 2009
  • Heritage Tourism as a Revitalization Strategy in Antigua, West Indies by LC Holderfield, 2002
  • Old road, new road: community protests and tourism development in Antigua by I Boxill, O Frederick, I Boxill & O Taylor, 2002
  • Inter-agency Coordination as a Strategy Toward Sustainable Tourism in a Small Island Developing State: The Case of Antigua by SV Francis, 2000
  • Tourism development, wetland degradation and beach erosion in Antigua, West Indies by J Baldwin, 2000
  • Tourism and Education Reform: A Case Study of Antigua by IJ Newton, 1999
  • An Integrated Public-Private Sector Approach to Tourism Management in Antigua-Barbuda by S Bowen, 1998
  • Tourism, development, and environmental alteration in Antigua, West Indies: wetlands reclamation and changing views of coastal ecologies by JR Baldwin, 1998
  • Tourism Development of the Coastal Environment and Its Impacts on Pollution in Antigua by DIN Solomon, 1994
  • The evolution of a ‘plantation’ tourism landscape on the Caribbean island of Antigua by DB Weaver, 1988
  • The evolution of a heliotropic tourism landscape: The case of Antigua by DB Weaver, 1987
  • Decolonization in Antigua: Its impact on agriculture and tourism by VA Richards, 1983
  • De-colonization, tourism and class/race structure in Antigua by P Henry, 1981
  • Economic impact of tourism in Antigua by TSS Prime, 1981
  • Economic Linkages Between Tourism and the Domestic Production Sector in Antigua: Summary and Conclusions by TSS Prime, 1981
  • International Tourism and the Economic Development of Small Territories: The Case of Antigua by HJ Pollard, 1973
  • Tourism and Development: A Study of Antigua by V Joshi & M Sharpton, 1973