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Antigua is an island in the West Indies, Leeward Islands in the Caribbean region, the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. It is also known as Wadadli, which means approximately "our own". The island's circumference is roughly 87 kilometers (54 miles) and its area 281 km² (108 square miles). Its population is about 69,000 as of July 2006. It is the largest of the Leeward Islands, and the most developed and prosperous due to its upscale tourism industry, offshore banking, Internet gambling services and education services, including two medical schools.
Over 31,000 people live in the town of St. John's, at 17°6?N, 61°45?W. The capital is situated in the northwest, near to VC Bird International Airport, and has a deep harbor which is able to accommodate large cruise ships. Other leading population settlements are All Saints (3,412) and Liberta (2,239), according to the 2001 census.
English Harbor on the southeastern coast is famed for its protected shelter during violent storms and as the site of a restored British colonial naval station called "Nelson's Dockyard". Captain Horatio Nelson, in correspondence made while stationed at the garrison, made it clear he would prefer to be facing the French. Today English Harbor and the neighboring village of Falmouth are an internationally famous yachting and sailing destination and provisioning center. 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 play sports.
Capital: St. John's. Land area: 108 sq. mi. (280 km²). Location : 17.09° N 61.80° W. Capital and largest city: St. John's, pop. 31,000. Climate: tropical marine; little seasonal temperature variation. Terrain: mostly low-lying limestone and coral islands, with some higher volcanic areas. Elevation extremes: 402 m (Boggy Peak), sea level.
The high rocky coast is indented by many bays and arms of the sea, several of which form excellent harbors. The surface is comparatively flat, and there is no central range of mountains as in most other Caribbean islands, but among the hills in the southwest an elevation of 1,319 feet (402 m) feet is attained on Boggy Peak. Owing to the absence of rivers, the paucity of springs, and the almost complete deforestation, Antigua is subject to frequent droughts, and although the average rainfall is 45.6 inches, the variations from year to year are great. The problem is partly solved by desalination of sea.
Antigua's economy is reliant upon tourism, and it markets itself as a luxury Caribbean escape. Antigua is also supported by the growing medical school and its students. Many hotels and resorts are located around the coastline, and the island's single airport is serviced by several major airlines including Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, US Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Caribbean Airlines, Air Canada and LIAT.
In 1968, with Barbuda and the tiny island of Redonda as dependencies, Antigua became an associated state of the Commonwealth, and in 1981 it was disassociated from Britain. The country was then led by what many describe as an elected family dynasty, with Vere C. Bird, the first prime minister, having been succeeded in 1993 by Lester B. Bird, his son, who retained the post until 2004.
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