Origin, History & Ethnic Relations of Antigua & Barbuda


Antigua and Barbuda emerged as an independent nation due to struggle of the locals for decolonisation and a number of meetings held on international level. The turning point in the history was series of peasant rebellion in the Caribbean between 1935 and 1939.

Result of this revolution was the formation of Antigua Trades Labour Union (ALTU) in 1939. The union gained power with time and got involved deeply in the struggle of the workers against sugar plantation owners thereby becoming more of a political wing later known as the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).

The revolution gained momentum under the leadership of ALTU’s second president; Bird who dynamically pushed labourism and state capitalism that in local terminology known as milk and water socialism.

Through its political wing, the ALTU further advanced in contesting for the limited seats in the legislature being elective. Politicisation acted as a catalyst to new rounds of strikes and political confrontations with the planters and elites of the colonial state.

Independence & emergence as a nation

The reinforced struggles by the Caribbean territories, African countries and opposition of the U.S. and Russia against colonial policies of the European succeeded in pushing the British to disassemble their hold that eventually shattered the empire.

This dismantling was executed through constitutional decolonisation that gradually transferred the sovereignty to elected leaders, such as those in the ALP. Antigua and Barbuda achieved independence from Britain between 1950 and 1981 with Bird being elected as nation’s first prime minister.

Ethnic relations

The revival of the Afro-Antiguans and Barbudans in cultural society dates back before the 20th century with a strong history of ethnic relations that systematically barred them. Five carefully ranked and distinct races emerged as a group following the initial settlement of Antigua in 1623 within the British colonial framework.

The British were at the tip of the hierarchy who justified their domination with arguments of civilising missions and supremacy of the white. There was a division between the non-creolised Britons and the British Antiguans. After a certain time, the non-creolised Britons surged that resulted in giving identification to the Anglicised cultural practices and people.

In the last decade, immigrants speaking Spanish from the Dominican Republic and the Afro-Caribs from Dominica and Guyana have been added to the ethnic medley.

Major industries

Throughout the course of history, sugar industry dominated the economy of Antigua and Barbuda which originated in the 1660s after the failing attempts to earn revenue from the tobacco production. Between 1700 and 1775, Antigua and Barbuda risen as a standard sugar colony!

The nation imported much of the food from the American and British colonies. The American revolution took away the cheap food supplies of Antigua and Barbuda whereas change in British slave and trade policies further diminished the market presence.


The above details are important for all those applying for the Antigua and Barbuda passport following origination of an independent nation.

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