Caribbean Tourism

History Of Anguilla

Anguilla Historical building

Rich in Pre Columbian history. Archeologists tell us there was a large settlement of peace loving Arawak Indians living on Anguilla. They called the island Malliouhana. The Spaniards who followed Christopher Columbus to the New World are said to have given the island its present name Anguilla, because of its long eel like shape.


The earliest known Amerindian site on Anguilla is at the northeast tip of the island, where tools and artefacts made from conch shells have been recovered and dated at around 1300 BC. Saladoid Amerindians settled on the island in the fourth century AD and brought their knowledge of agriculture, ceramics and their religious culture based on the god of cassava. By the sixth century large villages had been built at Rendezvous Bay and Sandy Ground, with smaller ones at Shoal Bay and Island Harbour. Post Saladoid Amerindians from the Greater Antilles arrived in the tenth century, building villages and setting up a chiefdom with a religious hierarchy. Several ceremonial items have been found and debris related to the manufacture of the three-pointed zemis, or spirit stones, associated with fertility rites. By the 17th century, Amerindians had disappeared from Anguilla: wiped out by enslavement and European diseases.

Anguilla was first mentioned in 1564 when a French expedition passed en route from Dominica to Florida, but it was not until 1650 that it was first colonized by the British. Despite several attempted invasions, by Caribs in 1656 and by the French in 1745 and 1796, it remained a British colony. From 1825 it became more closely associated with St Kitts for administrative purposes and ultimately incorporated in the colony. In 1967 St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla became a State in Association with the UK and gained internal independence. However, Anguilla opposed this development and almost immediately repudiated government from St Kitts. A breakaway movement was led by Ronald Webster of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). In 1969 British forces invaded the island to install a British Commissioner after negotiations had broken down. The episode is remembered locally for the unusual presence of the London Metropolitan Police, who remained on the island until 1972 when the Anguilla Police Force was established.

The post of Chief Minister alternated for two decades between the rival politicians, Ronald Webster and Emile Gumbs, leader of the Anguilla National Alliance (ANA), the latter holding office in 1977-80 and 1984-94. Mr Gumbs (now Sir Emile) retired from politics at the general elections held in March 1994. These elections proved inconclusive, with the ANA, the Anguilla United Party (AUP) and the Anguilla Democratic Party (ADP) each winning two seats and an Independent, Osbourne Fleming (who was Finance Minister in the ANA government) winning the seventh. A coalition was formed by Hubert Hughes, leader of the AUP, and Victor Banks, ADP, and the former was sworn in as Chief Minister. Mr Hughes had been a Minister in the 1984 ANA government, but had been dismissed in 1985, subsequently joining the opposition AUP, then led by Ronald Webster.

The March 1999 general elections were won by the governing coalition: the AUP and the ADP won two seats each while the ANA won three. Hubert Hughes (AUM) was sworn in as Chief Minister. His period of office was short-lived, however. The House of Assembly was paralysed after Mr Hughes lost a legal case against the Speaker and the ruling coalition fell apart when the ADP leader, Victor Banks, resigned from the administration and allied his party with the ANA. New elections were held in March 2000. The ANA again won three seats, the AUP two, ADP one and an independent one. Osbourne Fleming, leader of the ANA, became Chief Minister on 6 March, in coalition with the ADP.

Anguilla was another island to be badly hit by Hurricane Lenny in November 1999. Flooding reached depths of 14 ft and livestock perished. Most hotels managed to clean up for the winter season, only one remaining closed until well into 2000.


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