Last Updated: Friday, 28 August 2015, 14:50 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Antigua and Barbuda : Overview

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Antigua and Barbuda : Overview, 2007, available at: [accessed 28 August 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The state of Antigua and Barbuda lies in the Leeward Island chain in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It consists of Antigua and two smaller islands, Barbuda to the north, and the uninhabited rocky islet, Redonda, to the southwest. The total area is 443 sq km (171 sq mi).


Main languages: English

Main religions: Christianity (majority Anglican)

The majority of the country's population is of African descent. There are also small groups of Europeans, particularly Irish, British and Portuguese.


The original inhabitants of the islands of Antigua and Barbuda were indigenous Taino (Arawak) – Kalinago (Carib) groups.

Christopher Columbus landed in 1493 and named it Antigua. Constant Kalinago raids against Europeans attempting to settle on Caribbean islands meant that Antigua was not colonized for another 130 years. In 1632 the British established an initial settlement and in 1667 imported enslaved Irish Catholics to provide labour on the plantations. Afterwards for nearly two centuries shiploads of Africans were brought in to provide slave labour until 1834 when slavery was abolished. After 1840 there was some additional immigration of indentured labourers from Portugal.

From 1958 to 1962 Antigua was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. It became an internally self-governing state in association with Great Britain in 1967 and in November 1981, became the independent state of Antigua and Barbuda.


The head of government of Antigua and Barbuda is the prime minister within a pluriform multi-party system. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament consisting of a 17-seat appointed Senate and a 17-member popularly elected House of Representatives. The head of state is the British monarch who is represented by the governor-general.

The country is almost entirely dependent on tourism. Limited water supply is a constraint on increasing agricultural production, centred on the raising of cotton, fruit, and sugarcane.

Current state of minorities and indigenous peoples

The Haitian diaspora has had on impact on many Caribbean countries, with many thousands of refugees arriving each year. Antigua and Barbuda is attractive to Haitian economic migrants because of the labour shortage in certain sectors of the economy as a result of higher wages available in tourism and construction work. In June 2005, Antigua and Barbuda repatriated 37 Haitian migrants.

Copyright notice: © Minority Rights Group International. All rights reserved.

Search Refworld