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Antigua and Barbuda

Hawksbill turtles, sunken ships, Caribbean nations, Christopher Columbus, African slaves

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Antigua and Barbuda, an independent island nation located on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. The country comprises three main islands—Antigua, Barbuda, and Redonda.

Antigua and Barbuda is one of the more prosperous of the Caribbean nations. The islands attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and the nation’s economy is dependent on tourism. Antigua’s beaches are noted for their beauty. Cruise ships sailing the southern Caribbean often dock at the island. Numerous coral reefs and sunken ships surround Barbuda and Antigua, making for great snorkeling and diving.

Europeans first visited the islands when Christopher Columbus landed in 1493 on his second voyage to the Americas. Antigua and Barbuda were British colonies from 1632 until they achieved independence in 1981. The majority of the population is descended from African slaves brought to the islands to work on cotton and sugar cane plantations, and the islands’ culture developed from a mixture of African, West Indian, and British influences.

Plants and Animals

The native forest on Antigua was cleared by settlers to grow the sugarcane that was once the main export, and there are now few areas of woodland. Land animals are also scarce. However, the islands have a tremendous variety of birds, including many colorful tropical varieties. Barbuda has a colony of frigate birds, avian pirates who steal food from other birds; the males are known for the beauty of their puffed-up red chests. Hawksbill turtles, an endangered species, lay their eggs on the beach at Pasture Bay, Long Island, which lies just off Antigua.

Environmental Concerns

The growth of the tourist industry has created some environmental problems, including uncontrolled disposal of sewage from hotels on the beach. Hotel development also threatens the Antiguan mangrove trees. Water management is another major area of concern because of limited natural freshwater resources. Coral reefs that surround the islands have suffered disturbance to their ecosystem as a result of fishing, which has nearly doubled since 1980.

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Article key phrases:

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