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Antigua (an-TEE-gah)

Antigua map

Antiguans boast that they have a different beach for every day of the year. That may be an exaggeration, but the beaches here are certainly spectacular: Most are protected by coral reefs, and the sand is often sugar white.

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Antigua, Barbuda, and Redonda form the independent nation of Antigua and Barbuda, within the Commonwealth of Nations. Redonda is an uninhabited rocky islet of less than a square mile, located 32km (20 miles) southwest of Antigua.

Antigua (an-TEE-gah) is an independent nation, but it is still British in many of its traditions. Economically, it has transformed itself from a poverty-stricken island of sugar plantations to a modern-day vacation haven. The landscape of rolling, rustic Antigua is dotted with stone towers that were once sugar mills.

Most hotels, restaurants, beach bars, and water sports facilities lie north of the capital of St. John's, in the northwest. St. John's is a large, neatly laid-out town 10km (6 miles) from the airport with a deep water harbour terminal. This port city is the focal point of commerce and industry and the seat of government and shopping. Protected within a narrow bay, St. John's is charming, with cobblestone sidewalks and weather-beaten wooden houses with corrugated iron roofs and louvered Caribbean verandas. Trade winds keep the wide streets cool. Since all the major resorts are on good beaches, most visitors tend to stay put, going into St. John's for a day's shopping jaunt or to English Harbour for some history.

Antigua and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.

Antigua, the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles. Its highest point is Boggy Peak (1319 ft.), located in the southwestern corner of the island. Barbuda, a flat coral island with an area of only 68 square miles, lies approximately 30 miles due north.

Temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September.

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