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Geography of Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda lie in the eastern arc of the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. Antigua is 650 km southeast of Puerto Rico; Barbuda lies 48 km due north of Antigua and the uninhabited island of Redonda is 56 km southwest of Antigua. The largest island, Antigua, is 21 km (about a dozen miles) across and 281 km² (about a hundred square miles) in area, or about two-thirds the size of New York City, seven eighths the area of Inner London or 86% greater than the London Borough of Bromley. Barbuda covers 161 km² (about 5% more than Bromley), while Redonda encompasses a mere 2.6 km² making it like The City of London, about 1 square mile. The capital of Antigua and Barbuda is St. John's, located at St. John's Harbour on the northwest coast of Antigua. The principal city of Barbuda is Codrington, located on Codrington Lagoon.

Antigua and Barbuda both are generally low-lying islands whose terrain has been influenced more by limestone formations than volcanic activity. The highest point on Antigua, however, is Boggy Peak, the remnant of a volcanic crater rising 399 metres. This mountain is located amid a bulge of hills of volcanic origin in the southwestern part of the island. The limestone formations in the northeast are separated from the southwestern volcanic area by a central plain of clay formations. Barbuda's highest elevation is 44.5 metres, part of the highland plateau east of Codrington. The shorelines of both islands are greatly indented, with beaches, lagoons, and natural harbours. The islands are rimmed by reefs and shoals. There are few streams, as rainfall is slight. Both islands lack adequate amounts of fresh groundwater.     

The islands' tropical climate is moderated by fairly constant northeast trade winds, with velocities ranging between 30 and 48 km/h. There is little precipitation, however, because of the islands' low elevations. Rainfall averages 99 cm per year, but the amount varies widely from season to season. In general, the wettest period is between September and November. The islands' generally experience low humidity and recurrent droughts. Hurricanes strike on an average of once a year. Temperatures average 27°C, with a range from 23°C in the winter to 30°C in the summer and autumn; the coolest period is between December and February.

English Harbour, on the southeastern coast, is famed as a "hurricane hole" (protected shelter during violent storms) and is the site of a restored British colonial naval station. The latter is called "Nelson's Dockyard". Nelson was, at the time, a Captain and in correspondence made it clear he would prefer not to be there, but rather facing the French. Today English Harbour and the neighbouring village of Falmouth are an internationally famous yachting and sailing destination and provisioning centre. At the end of April and beginning of May Antigua Sailing Week, an annual world-class regatta, started in 1967, brings many sailing vessels and sailors to the island to race and socialize.

Total: 442 km² (Antigua 281 km²; Barbuda 161 km²)                             

Land: 442 km²            Water: 0 km²               

Note: Includes Redonda Land boundaries 0 km Coastline: 153 km

Area comparative

Australia comparative: 5 times smaller than the Australian Capital Territory
Canada comparative: about the same size as St. John’s

United Kingdom comparative: slightly larger than the Isle of Wight
United States comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 24 nm (nautical miles)
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm


Capital--St. John's (pop. 30,000).


Generally low-lying limestone and coral islands with some higher volcanic areas. Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest elevation Boggy Point: 403 m. (1,324 ft. approx).

Geographical co-ordinates
17 03 N, 61 48W.
Map references

Antigua and Barbuda are located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east-southeast of Puerto Rico.


The islands enjoy a very pleasant tropical climate which remains warm and relatively dry throughout the year with little seasonal temperature change. Tropical storms and hurricanes may occur between June and November.

Natural hazards
Natural hazards on these islands are hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October) and periodic droughts.

Required Clothing
Lightweight cottons or linen, with rainwear needed from September to December.

Nationality: Antiguan(s), Barbudan(s).
Population (2005): 82,786.
Annual population growth rate (2005): 1.7%.
Ethnic groups: Almost entirely of African origin; some of British, Portuguese, and Levantine Arab origin.
Religions: Principally Anglican, with evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic minorities.
Language: English (official), local dialects
Education (2005): Adult literacy--85.8%.
Health (2004): Infant mortality rate--11.0/1,000. Life expectancy--men70 years; women 74 years.
Work force (2005): 30,000 (commerce and services, agriculture, other industry).
Unemployment (2002): 13%. 
Approximately 3000 refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption on nearby Montserrat have settled in Antigua and Barbuda since 1995. 

Government type

Antigua and Barbuda has a constitutional monarchy with UK style parliament.
Administrative divisions
6 parishes (Saint George, Saint John, Saint Mary, Saint Paul, Saint Peter and Saint Phillip) and 2 dependences (Barbuda, Redonda)

The Legal System

The Legal system on the islands is based on English common law.

National holiday
Independence Day (National Day) – 1st November (1981)
On November 1st, 1981 the islands of Antigua and Barbuda claimed independence from the UK and became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Flag description
The flag for Antigua and Barbuda is red, with an inverted isosceles triangle based on the top edge; the triangle contains three horizontal bands of black (top), light blue, and white, with a yellow rising sun in the black band.

Natural resources

NELG; pleasant climate fosters tourism.
Antigua boasts a beautiful, deeply indented shoreline with many natural harbours and beaches. Barbuda has a very large western harbour.

Land Use

Arable land: 18%
Permanent crops: 0%
Permanent pastures: 9%
Forests and woodland: 11%
Other: 62% (1993 est.)

Current issues: 

Water management, a major concern because of limited natural fresh water resources, is further hampered by the clearing of trees to increase crop production, causing rainfall to run off quickly.

International agreements:
Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto     Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling.  Signed, but not ratified: None of the selected agreements.

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