Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. It consists of the main island of Anguilla itself, approximately 16 miles long by 3.1 miles wide at its widest point, together with a number of much smaller islands and cays with no permanent population. The island's capital is The Valley. The total land area of the territory is thirty five square miles, with a population of approximately 13,500 (2006 estimate).
Anguilla was first settled by Amerindian tribes who migrated from South America. The earliest Amerindian artifacts found on Anguilla have been dated to around 1300 BC, and remains of settlements date from 600 AD. These early inhabitants called the island Malliouhana. The date of European discovery is uncertain: some sources claim that Columbus sighted the island in 1493, while others state that the island was first discovered by the French in 1564 or 1565. The name Anguilla derives from the word for "eel" in any of various Romance languages, probably chosen because of the island's eel-like shape.
Anguilla was first colonised by English settlers from Saint Kitts, beginning in 1650. The French temporarily overtook the island in 1666 but under the Treaty of Breda it was returned to English control. Other early arrivals included Europeans from Antigua and Barbados. It is likely that some of these early Europeans brought enslaved Africans with them. Historians confirm that African slaves lived in the region in the early seventeenth century. Africans from Senegal lived in St. Christopher (today St. Kitts) in 1626. By 1672 a slave depot existed on the island of Nevis, serving the Leeward Islands. While the time of African arrival in Anguilla is difficult to place precisely, archive evidence indicates a substantial African presence - at least 100 on the island by 1683.
The island was administered by England, later the United Kingdom, until the early nineteenth century when – against the wishes of the inhabitants – it was incorporated into a single British dependency along with Saint Kitts and Nevis. After two rebellions in 1967 and 1969 and a brief period as a self-declared independent republic headed by Ronald Webster, British rule was fully restored in July 1971. Anguilla became a separate British dependency (now termed a British overseas territory) in 1980.
Anguilla is an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Its politics takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Chief Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system.
The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes Anguilla on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The territory's constitution is Anguilla Constitutional Order 1st of April 1982 (amended 1990). Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
As a dependency of the United Kingdom, the UK is responsible for its military defence, although there are no active garrison or armed forces present. The Royal Navy came to give aid the last time the island was hit and damaged by a hurricane in 1995.
Anguilla is noted for its spectacular and ecologically important coral reefs. Apart from the main island of Anguilla itself, the territory includes a number of other smaller islands and cays, mostly tiny and uninhabited. Some of these are:
· Sombrero, also known as Hat Island
Anguilla has a tropical though rather dry climate, moderated by northeast trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. Average daily maximum range from about 27 °C in December to 30 °C in July. Rainfall is erratic averaging about 35 inches per year, the wettest months being September and October, and the driest February and March. Anguilla is vulnerable to hurricanes from June to November, peak season August to mid-October.
Anguilla's thin arid soil is largely unsuitable for agriculture, and the island has few land-based natural resources. Its main industries are tourism, offshore incorporation and management, offshore banking and fishing. Many insurance and financial business are headquartered in Anguilla.
The economy is expanding rapidly, especially the tourism sector which is driving major new developments in partnerships with multi-national companies. This boom, beginning gently during 2005-2006, accelerating through 2007 and is expected to continue for years.
Anguilla is served by Wallblake Airport. Services connect to various other Caribbean islands, but the airport cannot receive large jets and there are no direct flights to or from continental America or Europe. Regular ferries link Anguilla and the neighbouring island of Saint Martin, with a journey time of about twenty minutes.
Aside from taxis, there is no public transport on the island. Cars drive on the left but like many of the islands we have visited most of the cars are imported from America, so the steering wheel is on the left, which upset Bear as it was my turn to drive and he hated cars coming at me in the middle.
The majority of residents (90.08%) are black, the descendants of slaves transported from Africa. Growing minorities include whites at 3.74% and people of mixed race at 4.65% (figures from 2001 census).
72% of the population is Anguillian while 28% is non-Anguillian (2001 census). Of the non-Anguillian population, many are citizens of the US, UK, St Kitts & Nevis, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Nigeria.
2006 and 2007 saw an influx of large numbers of Chinese, Indian and Mexican workers, brought in as labour for major tourist developments due to the local population not being large enough to support the labour requirements.
The Anguilla National Trust (ANT) was established in 1988 and opened its offices in 1993 charged with the responsibility of preserving the heritage of the island, including its cultural heritage. The Trust has programmes encouraging Anguillian writers and the preservation of the island's history.
The island's cultural history begins with the Taino Indians. Artifacts have been found around the island, telling of life before European settlers arrived.
As throughout the Caribbean, holidays are a cultural fixture. Anguilla's most important holidays are of historic as much as cultural importance – particularly the anniversary of the emancipation (previously August Monday in the Park), celebrated as the Summer Festival. British holidays, such as the Queen's birthday, are also celebrated.
According to the 2001 census Christianity is Anguilla's predominant religion, with 29 percent of the population practicing Anglicanism. Another 23.9 percent are Methodist. Other churches on the island include Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Roman Catholic and Jehovah's Witnesses (0.7%). Between 1992 and 2001 the number of followers of the Church of God and Pentecostal Churches increased considerably. There are at least fifteen churches on the island, several of architectural interest. Although a minority on the island, it is an important location to followers of Rastafarian religion - Anguilla is the birthplace of Robert Athlyi Rogers, author of The Holy Piby which has had a strong influence on Rastafarian beliefs.
Today most people in Anguilla speak a British-influenced variety of "Standard" English. Other languages are also spoken on the island, including varieties of Spanish, Chinese and the languages of other immigrants. However, the most common language other than Standard English is the islands own English-lexifier Creole language (not to be confused with French Creole spoken in islands such as Haiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe). It is referred to locally by terms such as "dialect" (pronounced "dialec"), or "Anguillian". It has its main roots in early varieties of English and West African languages and is similar to the dialects spoken in English-speaking islands throughout the Eastern Caribbean.
Boat racing has deep roots in Anguillian culture and is the national sport. There are regular sailing regattas on national holidays, such as Carnival, which are contested by locally built and designed boats.
As in many other former British Colonies, cricket is also a popular sport. Anguilla is the home of Omari Banks, who played for the West Indies Cricket Team, while Cardigan Connor played first-class cricket for my birth county - Hampshire and was 'chef de mission' (team manager) for Anguilla's Commonwealth Games team in 2002.
Rugby union is represented in Anguilla by the Anguilla Eels RFC, who were formed in April 2006. The Eels have been finalists in the St. Martin tournament in November 2006 and semi finalists in 2007.
ALL IN ALL IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT FOR ME
SO MANY BEAUTIFUL BEACHES