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Antigua and Barbuda

A Guide to Countries of the World

Peter Stalker

Antigua and Barbuda 

Tourist paradise tinged with crime and corruption

Antigua is the larger and more populated island in this two-island state in the eastern Caribbean. Its most significant geographical features are its white, sandy beaches. It has a warm, dry climate.

The standard of living is high and most of the income comes from tourism: over 250,000 visitors arrive each year either on cruise ships or to stay in the islands' exclusive resorts. Agriculture and manufacturing are mainly for local consumption and to supply the tourist industry.

The country has also become an offshore financial centre and has more than 70 banks which it combines with offshore internet gambling. Unfortunately, its lax regime has also made it an attractive money-laundering centre.

Antigua's head of state is the British monarch, but for more than 50 years the country was under the political sway of the Bird dynasty and the Antigua Labour Party (ALP), first Vere Bird, who died in 1999, and then his sons Lester and Vere Junior—a family seldom free of allegations of corruption. Dynastic rule finally ended in March 2004, with a victory for the United Progressive Party, led by Baldwin Spencer. He remained as prime minister following elections in 2009. Official website Antigua Observer - Daily newspaper