Anguilla was first colonised by English settlers from Saint Kitts, beginning in 1650. Other early arrivals included Europeans from Antigua and Barbados. It is likely that some of these early Europeans brought enslaved Africans with them. Historians confirm that African slaves lived in the region in the early seventeenth century. For example, Africans from Senegal lived in St. Christopher (today St. Kitts) in 1626. By 1672 a slave depot existed on the island of Nevis, serving the Leeward Islands. While the time of African arrival in Anguilla is difficult to place precisely, archive evidence indicates a substantial African presence (at least 100) on the island by 1683.
The island was administered by England, and later the United Kingdom, until the early nineteenth century when – against the wishes of the inhabitants – it was incorporated into a single British dependency along with Saint Kitts and Nevis. After two rebellions in 1967 and 1969 and a brief period as a self-declared independent republic headed by Ronald Webster, British rule was fully restored in 1969. Anguilla became a separate British dependency (now termed a British overseas territory) in 1980.
Anguilla is an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Its politics takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Chief Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system.
The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes Anguilla on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The territory's constitution is Anguilla Constitutional Order 1 April 1982 (amended 1990). Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Anguilla is a flat, low-lying island of coral and limestone in the Caribbean Sea, east of Puerto Rico. The soil is generally thin and poor, supporting only scrub vegetation.
Anguilla is noted for its spectacular and ecologically important coral reefs. Apart from the main island of Anguilla itself, the territory includes a number of other smaller islands and cays, mostly tiny and uninhabited. Some of these are:
Anguilla has a tropical though rather dry climate, moderated by northeast trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. Average daily maxima range from about 27 °C (80 °F) in December to 30 °C (86 °F) in July. Rainfall is erratic, averaging about 90 cm (35 in) per year, the wettest months being September and October, and the driest February and March. Anguilla is vulnerable to hurricanes from June to November, peak season August to mid-October.
Anguilla's thin arid soil is largely unsuitable for agriculture, and the island has few land-based natural resources. Its main industries are tourism, offshore incorporation and management, offshore banking, and fishing. Many insurance and financial business are headquartered in Anguilla.
The economy of Anguilla is expanding rapidly, especially the tourism sector which is driving major new developments in partnerships with multi-national companies. This boom, beginning gently during 2005-2006, is accelerating through 2007 and is expected to continue for years. In an effort to prevent overheating, there is currently a moratorium on "non-belongers" (foreigners) buying land in Anguilla. Anguilla's currency is the East Caribbean dollar, though the US dollar is also widely accepted. The exchange rate is fixed to the US dollar at US$1 = EC$2.70.
72% of the population is Anguillian while 28% is non-Anguillian (2001 census). Of the non-Anguillian population, many are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, St Kitts & Nevis, the Dominican Republic, or Jamaica and a very few Nigerians ranging from 7-15.
2006 and 2007 saw an influx of large numbers of Chinese, Indian, and Mexican workers, brought in as labour for major tourist developments due to the local population not being large enough to support the labour requirements.
The island's cultural history begins with the Arawak Indians. Artifacts have been found around the island, telling of life before European settlers arrived.
As throughout the Caribbean, holidays are a cultural fixture. Anguilla's most important holidays are of historic as much as cultural importance – particularly the anniversary of the emancipation (previously August Monday in the Park), celebrated as the Summer Festival. British holidays, such as the Queen's birthday, are also celebrated.
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Rugby union is represented in Anguilla by the Anguilla Eels RFC, who were formed in April 2006, through the hard work and dedication of Martin Welsh, Jacquie Ruan, and Mark Harris (Toronto Scottish RFC). They played their first match against formidable Rugby Club Les Archibalds from nearby Marigot in French St. Martin, and won 8-7. The Eels then were finalists in the St. Martin tournament in Nov 2006 and semi finalists in 2007. 2008 has seen the Anguilla Eels play the very strong St Barths Barracudas.
As in many other former British Colonies, cricket is also a popular sport. Anguilla is the home of Omari Banks, who played for the West Indies Cricket Team, while Cardigan Connor played first-class cricket for English county side Hampshire and was 'chef de mission' (team manager) for Anguilla's Commonwealth Games team in 2002.
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