Antigua and Barbuda is located in the "Heart of the Caribbean" between the Greater and Lesser Antilles, about 402 kilometers (250 miles) east-southeast of Puerto Rico or 60 kilometers (37.5 miles) north of Guadeloupe. This territory consists of several islands, the largest being Antigua (281 square kilometers, or 108 square miles), Barbuda (161 square kilometers, or 62 square miles), and Redonda (1.6 square kilometers, or 0.5 square miles). The smaller islands include Guiana Island, Bird Island, and Long Island. The combined area of this multi-island state is 442 square kilometers (171 square miles) making the territory about 2 and a half times the size of Washington, D.C. Antigua's coastline measures 153 kilometers (95 miles). The country's capital, St. John's, is located on the northwestern coast of Antigua. The main towns include Parham and Liberta on Antigua, and Codrington on Barbuda.
As of July 2000, the population of Antigua was estimated at 66,422, which means that the 1991 population of 63,896 increased by 3.95 percent. In 2000 the birth rate was reported as 19.6 births per 1,000 population while the death rate was 5.99 deaths per 1,000 population. In 2000, it was estimated that the population was growing at a rate of 0.73 percent per annum. The population is expected to reach 82,000 by 2010. Migration has been identified as the main reason for the relatively slow population growth. The net migration rate in 2000 averaged 6.32 migrants per 1,000 population.
The population density is 150 people per square kilometer (389 per square mile). As of 1999 about 37 percent of the population lived in the urban areas. About 91 percent of the population are of African descent. Other races found in relatively small numbers include Amerindian/Carib, East Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, Lebanese, and Syrian.
Close to 67 percent of the country's population are in the age group 15-64. The population is young, with 28 percent of the population aged 0-14 years and only 5 percent aged 65 years and over. In the late 1980s, about one-fifth of all births were to mothers aged under 19 years. Hence, the government, with the aid of the UNFPA Peer Counselling and Youth Health Services Project, has been teaching teens the use of contraceptives, among other birth control techniques, in an effort to reduce teenage pregnancies.
There are about 3,000 residents of Montserrat living in Antigua and Barbuda. These persons are evacuees who fled the island because of the volcanic eruption in 1997.
Manufacturing is not a major contributor to the economy. However, output from manufacturing rose by 5.5 percent in 1998 and 5 percent in 1999. Between 1996 and 1998, manufacturing contributed an average of just over 2 percent of GDP.
An industrial park located at Coolidge near the V. C. Bird International airport produces exports such as paints, galvanized sheets, furniture, paper products, and the assembly of household appliances, vehicles, and garments. Local manufacturers are provided with incentives such as tax and duty-free concessions.
Manufacturers can export to the United States, European, Canadian, and Caribbean markets as a result of trade agreements such as the Lomé Convention, the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM).
In 1999 the government signed an agreement with the People's Republic of China to use local cotton in the manufacture of textiles for the export market. A factory is to be constructed to facilitate this project.
Much of the buoyancy in the economy over the last few years has been due to the steady growth in the construction sector. Private and government investments have facilitated this growth. Construction contributed on average 11 percent of GDP between 1996 and 1998.
Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Antigua and Barbuda and is the leading sector in terms of providing employment and creating foreign exchange. In 1999 it contributed 60 percent of GDP and more than half of all jobs. According to the Americas Review 1998 , tourism contributed 15 percent directly and around 40 percent indirectly to the GDP in 1998. Real growth in this sector has moved from an average of 7 percent for the period 1985-89 to 8.24 percent for the period 1990-95. There was slow growth between 1995 and 1998.
Figures released by the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in 2000 show that total visitor arrivals increased steadily from 470,975 in 1995 to 613,990 in 1998. In 1999 total visitor arrivals declined by about 4.1 percent to 588,866, yet the number of visitors staying at least 1 night or more increased by 1.9 percent over 1998 to total 207,862. Arrivals via cruise ships in 1999 dropped to 325,195, a fall of 3.4 percent over 1998. The fall-off in cruise passengers was mainly the result of one of the larger cruise ships being out of service for a brief period. Most of the tourists in 1999 came from the United Kingdom and the United States. Visitor expenditures have increased steadily since 1990, with total expenditures of EC$782.9 million.
To combat increasing competition from other Caribbean destinations, the government and the Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association have established a joint fund to market the country's appeal as a tourist destination. The Association has agreed to match the proceeds from a 2 percent hotel guest levy introduced by the government.
At the start of March 2001, the Antigua Workers Union (AWU), the trade union which represents close to 7,000 workers in the tourism industry, described tourism as an industry in crisis. The AWU claimed the industry is on the decline because some airlines are pulling out of the country, and government was not spending enough money to promote tourism. While the government has conceded that it was not spending enough on marketing because of cash flow problems, it has rejected the AWU's contention that the industry is in crisis.
Antigua and Barbuda is advertised as "an attractive offshore jurisdiction." The country was the first to sign the United Nations' anti-money laundering pact. This agreement came out of a conference in 1999 which urged worldwide offshore financial centers to introduce laws to tighten their policing of money laundering activities. The United Kingdom exerted considerable pressure on Antigua and Barbuda to reform laws to combat money laundering, even issuing an advisory in April 1999 to British financial institutions that Antigua and Barbuda's anti-money laundering laws were wanting. Antigua and Barbuda responded to this concern, and a subsequent joint United States and United Kingdom review reported they were satisfied that the country had taken positive steps to check illegal activity in this sector. In September 2000 the government of Antigua and Barbuda announced that it had strengthened its surveillance of money laundering and drug trafficking.
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Antigua & Barbuda|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: Antigua & Barbuda|
|East Caribbean dollars (EC$) per US$1|
|Note: The exchange rate has been fixed since 1976.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
RETAIL. The retail sector is dominated by the sale of food and beverages, clothing and textiles, and vegetables. The main markets are located in the capital, St. John's. There are many street vendors and duty-free shops. The government has been taking steps to improve this sector. A US$43.5 million vendors' mall and market has been built to provide better facilities for retailers in the capital. In addition, a US$27 million fisheries complex now provides improved facilities for fish processing and retailing. A growing area of computer business on Antigua is Internet casinos.
Antigua and Barbuda has no territories or colonies.
The Americas Review, 17th edition. New Jersey: Hunter, 1998; 18th edition, 1999.
Antigua and Barbuda: Statistical Annex. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 1999. <http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?sk=3344.0> . Accessed August 2001.
Caribbean Development Bank Annual Report 1999 . Bridgetown, Barbados: Caribbean Development Bank, 1999.
The Caribbean Handbook 2000. St. John's, Antigua: FT International, 2000.
East Caribbean Central Bank Economic and Financial Review. Vol. 20, No. 3, September 2000.
East Caribbean Central Bank Report. St. Kitts, West Indies: ECCB, 2000.
"Small States, Big Money." The Economist. September 23, 2000.
"Sub-Regional Common Assessment of Barbados and the OECS: The UN Development System for the Eastern Caribbean, January 2000." United Nations Development Programme for Barbados and the OECS. <http://www.bb.undp.org/pub/pub_text.html> . Accessed August 2001.
United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report 2000 . New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed August 2001.
—Cleve Mc D. Scott
East Caribbean dollar (EC$). One Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) equals 100 cents. Paper currency comes in denominations of EC$100, 50, 20, 10, and 5. Coins are in denominations of EC$1, and 50, 25, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cents.
Petroleum products, manufactures, food and live animals, machinery and transport equipment.
Food and live animals, machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, oil.
US$524 million (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).
Exports: US$38 million (1998 est.). Imports: US$330 million (1998 est.).