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Antigua is an island in the Caribbean, part of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. It has a population of about 68,000, of which over 24,000 live in the capital of St. John's, on the northwest coast. Antigua is located south of the country's other island, Barbuda. It lies 50 miles east of St Kitts. The surface is comparatively flat, and there is no central range of mountains as in most other West Indian islands, but among the hills in the south-west an elevation of 1328 feet is attained.

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Owing to the absence of rivers, the paucity of springs, and the almost complete deforestation, Antigua is subject to frequent droughts, and although the average rainfall is 45.6 inches, the variations from year to year are great. The high rocky coast is much indented by bays and arms of the sea, several of which form excellent harbours, that of St John being safe and commodious, but inferior to English Harbour, which, although little frequented, is capable of receiving vessels of the largest size. The soil, especially in the interior, is very fertile. Sugar and pineapples are the chief products for export, but sweet potatoes, yams, maize and guinea corn are grown for local consumption. The three chief towns are St John, Falmouth and Parham. St John, the capital, is situated in the north west, near to the airport and has a large harbour which is able to accommodate large cruise ships.

Antigua's economy has become increasingly reliant upon tourism, and it markets itself as a luxury Caribbean escape. Many hotels and resorts are located around the coastline, and the island's single airport is serviced by several major airlines including Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

The country's official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar, however, most prices are shown in US dollars, and British pounds are almost universally accepted. Antigua was "discovered" in 1493 by Columbus, who is said to have named it after a church in Seville, called Santa Maria la Antigua. It remained, however, uninhabited until 1632, when a body of English settlers took possession of it, and in 1663 another settlement of the same nation was effected under the direction of Lord Willoughby, to whom the entire island was granted by Charles II. It was ravaged by the French in 1666, but was soon after reconquered by the British and formally restored to them by the treaty of Breda. It remained under British control until 1981, when Antigua and Barbuda gained independence. The government is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state.


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