Anguilla is a tiny island, and one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. It is a slender strip of white powder beaches, turquoise seas and verdant vegetation that has managed to preserve its natural beauty while embracing a sophisticated luxury tourism industry. It is also known for its fine restaurants and gourmet seafood fare. The island’s low population density and lack of large tourist resorts (only seven are on the entire island) create a feeling of intimacy and tranquility, especially on its gorgeous beaches, where it is not uncommon to find yourself all alone among the pristine sands.
The island is surrounded by shallow, protected reefs that offer great snorkeling and diving opportunities. In addition, it is home to a large number of bird species, including the endangered blue and green iguanas. Anguilla’s dry climate is moderated by northeast trade winds, with warmest temperatures in January and coolest in June. Rainfall is minimal, with the wettest months in September and October.
Tourism is the main source of income in Anguilla, with the luxury sector driving growth in recent years. Other sources include offshore banking, lobster fishing, and remittances from emigrants. Government revenues depend on import duties, taxes on services and corporations, and various licensing fees. There is no sales or income tax, and the distribution of incomes is relatively equal.
Anguilla’s relative isolation has helped preserve the island’s traditional culture, combining stately British customs with a vibrant Caribbean spirit. The poor soil also prevented the island from developing a powerful plantation system during colonial times, sparing Anguilla some of the racial tensions that mar many other Caribbean islands.
Shannon Kircher, owner of Frangipani Beach Resort in Anguilla, describes her hotel as “barefoot luxury,” and she takes pride in her staff’s ability to give guests the feeling that this is their island, too. The hotel’s weekly aperitivo on the beach with reggae and wine is a great place for guests to meet other people.
A variety of sports are popular on Anguilla, including cricket (which dates back to the colonial era), soccer, and volleyball. The island is a center for artistic pursuits, with the Department of Youth and Culture supporting literary arts initiatives and sponsoring a literary festival in May. Musicians are also well supported, with the Department of Cultural Development promoting a range of events that feature both local and international performers.
The government of Anguilla is a monarchy, with executive power vested in the governor. The governor presides over the Executive Council, which includes a chief minister and other ministers, as well as ex officio members. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral House of Assembly, with 11 seats. Voting is by universal adult suffrage for five-year terms.
The parliamentary system was instituted in 1962 after a series of labour disturbances on other West Indian islands spurred a royal commission that recommended political reforms. The reforms included the creation of a single political unit for Saint Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, which was renamed in 1967 to Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla after the three islands joined to form a dependency of the British West Indies Federation.