The name Anguilla evokes visions of white sand beaches, blue sea and gently bobbing sailboats. It’s a perfect Caribbean getaway. But there’s more to Anguilla than dazzling beachfronts. The island is a vibrant community of warm and friendly people who know how to enjoy the simple things in life – like world-class cuisine, unique culture, music and rum.
Anguilla has a rich heritage with a unique blend of African and British influences that reflects the island’s complex history. Evidence of early Arawak settlements and European colonization are evident in archaeological sites across the island. Today, Anguillian culture is imbued with a sense of the past, embracing important stages and events that are commemorated throughout the year.
Once a part of the Leeward Islands Federation, Anguilla is now a separate British overseas territory. Its independence came about after significant political and economic challenges. A series of labour disturbances in the 1930’s led to the formation of a Royal Commission which advocated for social and economic reform. The commission’s findings accelerated the democratization of Anguilla, and universal adult suffrage was granted in 1952.
Since then, Anguilla has experienced steady population growth and a relatively low crime rate. Its economy is primarily dependent on tourism and the provision of financial services. Agriculture is of minor importance, with only a small portion of the island under cultivation. The majority of Anguilla’s workforce is employed in the service industry.
As with the rest of the Caribbean, holidays are an integral part of Anguillian culture. The most important festival is a celebration of the emancipation of African slaves, which takes place in August and lasts for a fortnight. During this time, parties and street parades fill the streets of Anguilla and Anguillans from all walks of life celebrate together.
Anguilla’s national sport is sailboat racing, and public holidays are marked by regattas. With no income tax, the islands are a popular tax haven and its tourism-based industry has contributed to its booming economy. The import of food and consumer goods accounts for a substantial share of Anguilla’s foreign exchange earnings, while fishing is another mainstay.
Despite being a tropical destination, Anguilla’s climate is relatively mild. The island rarely experiences severe weather, but hurricanes can occur from June to November and cause major damage.