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The beautiful twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda can be found in the waters between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two main inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and several smaller islands, including Long, Maiden, York, Green, Great Bird and Guinea Islands. The capital and largest port city of the country is St. Johns, which is located on the island of Antigua.
Antigua and Barbuda are situated in the middle of the Leeward Islands and are separated by only a few nautical miles. Known for its gorgeous beaches, the country is often referred to as the “Land of 365 Beaches,” and because the islands were once a part of the British Empire, the language, government and culture continue to show strong British influences.
The permanent population of Antigua and Barbuda is approximately 86,000, and consists of people of West African, British and Portuguese descent. As of the 2010 census, the ethnic makeup or distribution of the country consisted of 91 percent Black or Mulatto, with people of mixed race, White, Asian and East Indian heritage accounting for the remaining 9 percent. Christianity is the preferred religion for 90 percent of the country, particularly the Anglican and Roman Catholic denominations. Tourism is by far the number one industry in Antigua and Barbuda, accounting for over 50 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). English is the national language of the country. However, most residents speak what is known as “Antiguan Creole” in informal situations.
Antigua and Barbuda has a rich and dynamic culture that, as we mentioned, has been strongly influenced by the British. One example of this influence is the country’s national sport, cricket, which is played widely throughout the islands—a sport in which Antigua and Barbuda has produced several famous players. Sport, religion and family play a huge part in the lives of Antiguans, as does traditional calypso and soca music, dance and cuisine, in which corn and sweet potatoes play a major role.
Education in Antigua and Barbuda
Education in Antigua and Barbuda is free and mandatory for all children between the ages of 5 and 16. To ensure regular funding for the public education system, citizens of the country must pay from their basic wages an extra tax earmarked for education. This money goes to pay for regular educational expenses, including maintenance, transportation, supplies and teacher salaries.
Primary education begins at age 5 and spans 7 years. Currently there are nearly 15,000 students enrolled in the country’s elementary schools, where students receive instruction in a broad range of subjects, including mathematics, science, language, music and social studies. The pupil to teacher ratio in Antigua and Barbuda’s primary schools is 19:1.
Secondary education is divided between lower secondary schools and upper secondary schools. Lower secondary education in Antigua and Barbuda lasts for 3 years, and upper secondary schools spans an additional two years. Students in upper secondary schools can choose to take either a general education track, made up of purely academic courses, or a vocational track, in which they receive career-focused instruction in occupational and/or technical fields. Some 6,000 students are enrolled in the country’s secondary schools, with an average—and impressive—pupil to teacher ratio of 13:1.
Higher education in Antigua and Barbuda is administered by the country’s three colleges, offering a diverse academic curriculum leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees in most major academic fields. Teacher training courses, as well as advanced technical and vocational programs, are also available.
Post-graduate programs that lead to PhD degrees are very limited in Antigua and Barbuda. Students who wish to pursue these types of degrees will typically enroll at universities in Europe, Canada or the United States, and receive most of their instruction via a long distance, online format.
The adult literacy rate in Antigua and Barbuda is 89 percent.
Map of Antigua and Barbuda