Antigua and Barbuda is a country in the West Indies in the Americas, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands (including Great Bird, Green, Guiana, Long, Maiden and York Islands and further south, the island of Redonda). The permanent population numbers about 81,800 (at the 2011 Census) and the capital and largest port and city is St. John's on Antigua. Lying near each other (the main Barbuda airport is less than 0.5° of latitude, or 30 nautical miles, north of the main Antigua airport), Antigua and Barbuda are in the middle of the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 17°N of the equator.
The island of Antigua was explored by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named for the Church of Santa María La Antigua. Antigua was colonized by Britain in 1632; Barbuda island 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. Following by self-governing on its internal affairs, independence was granted from United Kingdom on 1 November 1981.
Antigua and Barbuda remains a member of the Commonwealth and Elizabeth II is the country's queen and head of state.
Antigua is Spanish for "ancient" and barbuda is Spanish for "bearded". The island of Antigua was originally called Wadadli by Arawaks and is locally known by that name today; Caribs possibly called it Wa'omoni. Christopher Columbus, while sailing by in 1493 may have named it Santa Maria la Antigua, after an icon in the Spanish Seville Cathedral.