A little-known paradise in the Caribbean, Anguilla is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. This independent British Crown Colony is renowned for its pristine powdery white sands and crystal clear waters. Explore the island’s unspoilt beauty on a self-led tour, or let an experienced guide introduce you to its many hidden treasures.
Anguilla is a tropical island with a warm, dry climate and no rainy season. The country is known for its fine cuisine and rum, as well as its lively culture. The population is diverse, and most are of African descent, while a small minority is of European ancestry.
The history of Anguilla dates back to 3500 BC, when a tribe of Arawakan-speaking Indians arrived from the Orinoco River basin of South America and settled on the island, which they called Malliouhana, meaning “arrow-headed sea serpent.” They built villages and ceremonial sites.
In 1650, the first English settlers arrived and colonized the island. By the 18th century, sugar cultivation replaced cotton as Anguilla’s primary industry.
During its colonial period, Anguilla was subject to constant warfare between French and British colonists. The island remained a British colony until the early 19th century when it joined with Saint Kitts and Nevis in a single British dependency.
Although Anguilla was formally disassociated with Saint Kitts and Nevis in 1980, it has retained close ties to the United Kingdom. It is a parliamentary representative democratic dependency and is governed by a Chief Minister and an Executive Council.
A highly developed economic sector has grown substantially since the 1980s, and Anguilla now enjoys a high degree of autonomy. Tourism remains Anguilla’s most important industry, while fishing and other traditional industries continue to thrive. The government has also enacted a series of governmental reforms, including an overhaul of the tax system and new laws to combat corruption.
The governing body in Anguilla is the executive council, which includes a chief minister and other cabinet members. The unicameral House of Assembly is made up of 11 members plus a speaker. Voting takes place by universal adult suffrage to five-year terms.
Traditionally, the island is a party-based society. Currently, there are three major political parties and a number of smaller ones. The main parties are the Conservatives, Labour and the Anguilla Progressives, each of which is represented by a majority of seats in the House of Assembly.
Anguilla’s politics are based on the British-style parliamentary representative democracy with a pluriform multi-party system. A governor is appointed by the British monarch and presides over the Executive Council, which comprises the chief minister and other ministers and ex officio members.
Legislative power is vested in the unicameral House of Assembly, which has eleven members and a speaker; voting is open to adults age 18 and over. The House of Assembly is largely dominated by the Anguilla Progressives, which have formed the majority coalition in Anguilla since the 1990s.
The Summer Carnival is one of the most important cultural events on Anguilla, a celebration of the emancipation of African slaves that runs for a fortnight in August. Musicians perform at local venues, and dancers and stilt-walkers adorn the streets to mark the occasion. During the day, beach picnics and sailboat races are popular activities. The evenings are full of dancing, competitions, fairs and parades.