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History of Anguilla


An old prision built of coral stone still stands in South Hill.
An old prision built of coral stone still stands in South Hill.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus sighted the island and named it for its eel-like shape: Anguilla means "eel" in Spanish. No attempt was made to colonize it, probably because it was controlled by the notoriously fierce, warlike Caribs, who knew the island as Malliouhana, the Carib word for eel. The Caribs, a tribe of cannibals, had captured the island from the peaceful Arawak tribe and had completely eradicated them, not only from anguuilla but also from the entire Caribbean.


Farming was the main occupation of early settlers.
Farming was the main occupation of early settlers.

English settlers arrived from nearby St. Kitts in 1650, followed by Irish invaders in 1688. Fleeing from Cromwell and religious persecution, they sought and found in Anguilla a faraway British territory in which they could live peacefully. This settlement is today known as Island Harbour. The French then made unsuccessful attempts at invasion in 1745 and 1796. Thereafter, the island was left in peace.

Some of the old homes remain in perfect condition, many over 100 years old.
Some of the old homes remain in perfect condition, many over 100 years old.

Due to poor soil, erratic rainfall, and the consequent low quality of sugar and cotton,slavery and the plantation system failed to take hold in Anguilla. Many slaves were allowed to leave the plantations and the island in search of work in such places as the British Virgin Islands, Angigua, and as far south as Trinidad. They then worked to buy their freedom and that of their families so that they could return to settle on lands
long deserted by plantation owners. Thus, grew a hard working, independent population, which, by the time of emancipation in the 1830s, already consisted of free people and independent landowners.

Before roads were built, folks often followed the same path through the bush creating a red tinted walkway.
Before roads were built, folks often followed the same path through the bush creating a red tinted walkway.

British colonial rule was difficult to manage effectively from London, so "federations" of islands were established, with local, legislative councils managing affairs in these faraway colonies. In 1871, Anguilla and St. Kitts were brought together as such a federation, to which Nevis was added in 1882. Never happy with this arrangement, Anguilla
twice petitioned the British Colonial Office, in 1875 and 1958, for direct British rule.

Two rooms cottages were constructed with great care and detailed fret work.
Two rooms cottages were constructed with great care and detailed fret work.

Ignored and misunderstood, Anguilla finally rebelled and declared itself independent in 1967, as the three-island unit of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was granted statehood. Anguilla's
aim: to remain under direct British rule as a Crown Colony.

Wattle and Daub was the building material of choice by early Anguillians.
Wattle and Daub was the building material of choice by early Anguillians.

Anguilla achieved its political objective in 1969 when the British Armed Forces invaded and established a separate, direct administration. Formal separation from St. Kitts-Nevis was finally achieved in 1978 when by an order in Council, Anguilla became a Crown Colony once again. What many regarded as turning back the hands of time, the Anguillians heralded as the first step to real political freedom when Anguilla became a Dependent Territory of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The natural coral stone made up the foundation of many homes.
The natural coral stone made up the foundation of many homes.

Today, Anguilla's constitution resembles that of many other British Dependent Territories, including that of the British Virgin Islands and Montseratt and provides for the Government to be carried out by a Governor acting as a representative of Her Majesty the Queen and a Chief Minister together with other Ministers appointed from the elected members of the Legislative Assembly. The legal system is based on British Common Law and is supplemented by local statutes. Judicial matters are handled by a Magistrate Court, a High Court and a regional Court of Appeal serving the Eastern Caribbean.



The first houses of worship were construted by villages and built by hand.
The first houses of worship were construted by villages and built by hand.
  Large flat savannahs fill the bottom land but because of the lack of rain most cannot support more than island grass and goats.
Large flat savannahs fill the bottom land but because of the lack of rain most cannot support more than island grass and goats.
 




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