In 1493, Christopher Columbus sailed past Antigua, which at the time was known as ‘Wa ‘ladli’ by its West Indian inhabitants, the Arawaks. It is thought that Columbus gave the island the name ‘Santa Maria la Antigua’ after an icon in Spain’s Seville Cathedral. In 1632, Sir Christopher Codrington established the first European settlement in Antigua. Under Codrington’s command, the island developed into a successful sugar colony and became known as the ‘gateway to the Caribbean’ as it was located amid the major sailing routes. Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state in 1981.
A mixture of British and African culture can be felt and witnessed throughout Antigua, from the colonial architecture to the Calypso and Soca music which reverberates through the island. Tourists and residents alike enjoy British sports, such as boat racing, while savoring the relaxed Caribbean atmosphere for which Antigua is known.