Columbus landed on Antigua in 1493. He named it after the church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville, Spain. The British colonized it in 1632, arriving from the nearby island of St. Kitts. There followed brief periods under the Spanish and French, and then a return to British settlement who introduced sugar planting; the industry declined with the abolition of slavery in 1838.
The Dockyard at English Harbour served as HQ to the British West India fleet during the years of the 18th and 19th century during which sugar producing islands were prized in Western Europe. From 1784 to 1787, the famous Lord Horatio Nelson was senior officer, thus the term "Nelson's Dockyard" used locally to refer to the combination of English Harbour and the Dockyard.
King William IV, while young and with the title Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, served as a captain under Nelson and lived at Clarence House.
The island, with Barbuda and Redonda as dependencies, became an associated state of the Commonwealth in 1967 and achieved full independence on November 1st, 1981.
Antigua and Barbuda continues its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, and is the 157th member of the United Nations. Other memberships include: