Pre-ceramic Amerindians were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 BC. Later Arawak and Carib Amerindian tribes populated the islands. The island of Antigua was named Wadadli by these natives
Lush green rolling hills and scores of coves mark the islands of Antigua (pronounced an-TEE-Ga or an-TEE-Gwa) and nearby Barbuda. Most of the coast of Antigua is a treacherous approach for seafarers, being ringed by shoals and large coral reefs. Pirates, in their shallower-draft ships (such as barques and sloops) can negotiate these reefs however, to make use of the numerous coves for shelter. Antigua's skyline is dominated by Boggy Peak, which rises some 1300 feet above sea level.
Antigua was discovered by Columbus in 1493, and settled by English from St Kitts in 1632, under the leadership of Edward Warner, they grew cash crops of tobacco, ginger, indigo and some sugar.
Sugar became Antigua's main crop from about 1674, when Christopher Codrington came from Barbados, bringing the latest sugar technology with him. Betty's Hope Estate, which he settled, Antigua's first full-scale sugar plantation, was so successful that other planters turned from tobacco to sugar. This resulted in a huge increase of slaves, as sugar requires a great deal of labor.
Antigua has a large population of African and native slaves there for working the fields and docks. Slaves outnumber settlers by a ratio of seven to one and as such are treated very well by Caribbean standards.
Antigua's largest town is St. John, while nearby Barbuda is unsettled by Europeans.
As a center for agriculture and shipping for the Lesser Antilles, Antigua serves as a re-supply depot for vessels of the British Navy when in the Lesser Antilles. 'English Harbour' on the southeastern coast is famed as a "hurricane hole" (protected shelter during violent storms)