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 island’s 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.