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Life In Antigua
It is no surprise Antigua is home to a mix of internationally famous politicians, entertainers, and fashion designers.
The islands of Antigua & Barbuda are a top western destination for recreational travel and a utopia for those seeking a secure and stable second home nation. Relaxed, yet sophisticated, families can enjoy world-class education amongst a mosaic of cultures, and the lifestyle at any age is idyllic.
There is a simplicity and easiness to living in the tropics, accentuated by the cross-pollination of international cultures across the region. The historical roots of Antigua & Barbuda spread back through thousands of years, into four continents and numerous civilizations.
A potent blend of African, European, Asian, South and North American influences combine to make each island in the region unique. Unlike many of the islands, which were swapped and traded like wares in a market, Antigua was colonized and governed by a single European power, Great Britain (with only a brief French rule in 1667).
The legacy of 350 years of British rule mixed with African culture has left indelible marks across the fabric of the island’s society. These permeate deeply through music, food, language, attitude and community. Now, in the 21st century, American popular culture and fashion have a heavy influence in addition to the international permanent residents who have come from all over the world in the last years.
Society and Language
Antigua is a true mosaic of diverse racial ethnicities. As of June 2011, the population numbered 85,632, mostly made up of people of West African, British, and Portuguese descent.
However, in the last decade there has been an influx of international residents from North America, Europe and Asia, as well as Spanish-speaking and Afro-Caribbean immigrants from across the region. This has resulted in Antigua & Barbuda having as international a feel as any Caribbean destination.
The official language is English though Spanish is widely spoken, and other languages such as Italian and French can often be heard as you enjoy the island’s plethora of international restaurants and hotels.
Antigua has a relatively small population, yet the artist community is a strong and thriving one. Many talented artists, musicians, authors, potters, jewelers, photographers, fashion designers live, work, display and sell their creative art locally and online. The island hosts numerous art galleries, however many of the island’s artists display and sell their work directly from their studios or individual shops.
Music has always played a vitally important role in Antiguan life, with the rhythms of Calypso, Soca, and Reggae providing the constant backbeat to everyday island life. A number of world-famous musicians call Antigua home and there is a vibrant island nightlife and entertainment scene, especially on the southeast coast, where Eric Clapton has been known to show up and play a set or two unannounced.
Antigua is considered one of the most ‘connected’ of the region’s countries, with more homes connected to the internet per capita than any other. This digital connectivity has bred a new, robust and growing community of digital artists who create, maintain and distribute their work online for themselves and clients globally.
Cricket, football, basketball, tennis, sailing, athletics are all sports which Antiguans enjoy and excel at. It’s an understatement to say Antiguans like cricket – they love cricket. This global sport becomes a national pastime when the West Indies Cricket Team play around the world in Test matches.
Antigua has hosted International Cricket Test matches for decades at the world renowned ARG – Antigua Recreation Grounds. Amongst many memorable sporting moments, the ARG witnessed Brian Lara twice scoring the World Test Record for most runs, which still stands.
Today, international and regional cricket events are hosted at the new 4,000-seat Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, named after Antigua’s most famous cricketer who can be seen regularly playing tennis and golf around the island. Antigua has sent teams to many Olympic games to compete in sailing and athletics events. Ocean sports are quite naturally well-loved, with sailing, kite-boarding, windsurfing and deep-sea sports fishing at the heart of both local and tourist water sport activity.
Every year Antigua Sailing Week is contested in the waters off Antigua’s shores. Established in 1967, this world-class regatta has been host to many of the world’s most renowned names in sailing. Antigua is considered one of the top sailing destinations in the world.
In July 2015, young Antiguan athlete Miguel Francis won the Men’s 200m final at the Pan Am Games held in Toronto.
Local Food Supply
There is a growing realization and desire among Antiguan individuals and businesses to focus more on a self-sustaining food supply model as it would be highly beneficial to the country. To this end a number of eco-friendly farming operations are in various stages of implementation. Many domestic foods are available and there is a great deal of imported food from the United States and further afield in the larger supermarkets.
The amount and diversity of edible crops that can be grown in Antigua is amazing. With a year-round growing climate, the island nations of the Caribbean historically provided food sources for the western world for centuries. There is an active movement afoot in the country to develop more local food supply and in 2013 alone the government lowered the importation of poultry by over 30% and increased local individual farming provenance by almost double.
Antigua & Barbuda ranks amongst the safest islands in the Caribbean and the government has consistently shown its commitment to the security of its residents and visitors.
In the last three years the Ministry responsible for policing in the country has brought in new updated equipment and a series of CCTV cameras around the island are being established, putting Antigua & Barbuda on the leading edge of citizen and property protection in the Caribbean.
In addition the government has sought assistance for its police force with training and investigations from both the British and Canadian Police Forces. An individual’s right to personal security is highly regarded in Antiguan society, and the island has one of the lowest crime rates in the region.
Antigua has no need for a military, however there is a Antigua & Barbuda Defense Force deployed mostly during natural disasters both nationally and regionally.
Medical & Health
With a climate that affords year-round light clothing and a relaxed attitude to living in general, there are relatively few major health risks. The main health risks for visitors are related to climate and environment – dehydration, sunstroke and the like.
There are no wild animals to be seriously wary of and the shallow waters around Antigua’s coastline are amongst the region’s safest. Antigua has a number of well-equipped health care facilities, U.S.-trained general practitioners and specialists located on the island, and many hotels have a doctor on call. Antigua does not have any immunization requirements while visiting the island, unless the visitor is arriving from an endemic area.
With a population of approximately 85,000 Antigua is well equipped to cope with most medical emergencies and the local facilities have high quality diagnostic and treatment facilities and equipment. The largest facility is the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre, a 185-bed hospital, offering primary to advanced critical care, which is now is a designated regional teaching hospital.
There is an emphasis placed on education in Antigua with a high literacy rate and many government schools. Antigua is home to the best-regarded International Baccalaureate School in the region, the Island Academy, which is a member of the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), a group representing the best in quality private school education, with 1,400 members around the world. Island Academy has over 200 students including over 15 nationalities and a highly qualified international teaching staff.
CCSET International School offers the Canadian Secondary School Diploma and there are also a number of other private primary/secondary schools that follow the government curriculum.
Antigua currently has two medical schools, the American University of Antigua (AUA), and The University of Health Sciences Antigua (UHSA). There is also a government owned state college in Antigua as well as the Antigua & Barbuda Institute of Information Technology (ABIIT). The University of the West Indies has a branch in Antigua for students to continue university studies.
Taking into account key factors such as general security, climate, outdoor activities, access to the wider world, and quality of education, Antigua offers a wonderful environment in which to raise young children.