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Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua, the larger of the two main islands, is 108 sq mi (280 sq km). The island dependencies of Redonda (an uninhabited rocky islet) and Barbuda (a coral island formerly known as Dulcina) are 0.5 sq mi (1.30 sq km) and 62 sq mi (161 sq km), respectively.

Constitutional monarchy.

The island of Antigua was explored by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named for the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville. Antigua was colonized by Britain in 1632; Barbuda was first colonized in 1678. Antigua and Barbuda joined the West Indies Federation in 1958. With the breakup of the federation, it became one of the West Indies Associated States in 1967, self-governing its internal affairs. Full independence was granted Nov. 1, 1981.

The Bird family has controlled the islands since Vere C. Bird founded the Antigua Labor Party in the mid-1940s. While tourism and financial services have turned the country into one of the more prosperous in the Caribbean, law enforcement officials have charged that Antigua and Barbuda is a major center of money laundering, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. Several scandals tainted the Bird family, especially the 1995 conviction of Prime Minister Lester Bird"s brother, Ivor, for cocaine smuggling. In 2000, Antigua and 35 other offshore banking centers agreed to reforms to prevent money laundering.

In March 2004, the Bird political dynasty came to an end when labor activist Baldwin Spencer defeated Lester Bird, who had been prime minister since 1994. In 2005, income tax, which had been eliminated in 1975, was reintroduced to help alleviate Antigua"s deficit.

On July 17, 2007, Louise Lake-Tack became the first woman governor-general of Antigua and Barbuda. In June 2014, Gaston Browne led the Antigua Labour Party to victory in the general election. It was a return to power for the Antigua Labour Party after ten years as the opposition. The party won 14 of 17 seats. Brown was sworn in as prime minister on June 13. Governor-General Dame Louise Lake-Tack left office in August 2014. Antigua

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