Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:04 UK

Timeline: Antigua and Barbuda

A chronology of key events:

1493 - Christopher Columbus visits Antigua and names it after the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville, Spain.

Antiguan beach
Tourism - one of the mainstays of the islands' economy

1632 - Antigua colonised by English settlers from St Kitts.

British rule

1667 - France formally ends its claim to Antigua in accordance with the Treaty of Breda.

1674 - Christopher Codrington, a sugar planter from Barbados, sets up a sugar plantation in Antigua.

1685 - Codrington leases the island of Barbuda from the British crown; African slaves imported to grow first tobacco and then sugarcane on plantations.

1834 - Slaves of Antigua emancipated.

1860 - Barbuda reverts to the British crown.

1871-1956 - Antigua and Barbuda administered together as part of the Leeward Islands federation.

The Bird era

1946 - Vere Bird forms the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).

1958-62 - Antigua and Barbuda part of the British-sponsored West Indies Federation.

1967 - Antigua and Barbuda become a self-governing state within the British Commonwealth, with Britain retaining control of defence and foreign affairs.

1969 - Barbuda separatist movement comes into being.

1971 - George Walter replaces Vere Bird as prime minister after the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) beat the ALP in the general elections.

1972 - Sugar industry closed down.

1976 - ALP, led by Bird, returns to power after winning the general election.


1981 - Antigua and Barbuda becomes independent.

Early 1980s - Attempts made to replant sugarcane fields, but these are finally abandoned in 1985 because of financial problems.

Lester Bird gestures peace sign after casting his vote in 1999 election
Lester Bird replaced his father, Vere, as prime minister
1946-71: Vere Bird's Antigua Labour Party (ALP) holds power
1976: ALP returns to power
1994: Lester Bird assumes premiership
2004: Lester Bird concedes defeat in elections

1983 - Antigua and Barbuda supports the US invasion of Grenada (as it has supported US sanctions against Cuba).

1990 - Prime Minister Vere Bird's son, Vere Jr, removed from public office in the wake of allegations of gun-running.

1993 - Vere Bird resigns as prime minister and is replaced by his son, Lester.

1994 - Lester Bird's ALP wins the general elections.

1995 - Riots erupt in protest against new taxes; Bird's brother, Ivor, convicted of smuggling cocaine into Antigua and Barbuda; Hurricane Luis hits the islands, claiming 75% of all homes and setting back development by 10 years.

Allegations of money laundering

1998 - Government closes down six Russian-owned banks accused of money laundering.

1999 February - US State Department describes the country as "one of the most attractive centres in the Caribbean for money launderers".

1999 March - Bird's ALP wins another general election; direct hit by Hurricane Jose causes extensive damage.

Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua
Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, named after Antigua's cricketing great


Multi-national Financial Action Task Force reports that Antigua is "fully cooperative" in the fight against money laundering.

2004 March - Lester Bird concedes defeat in general election. Baldwin Spencer, leader of United Progressive Party, is sworn in as prime minister.

2004 October - Parliament passes anti-corruption bill, providing for fines and jail terms for errant ministers and officials.

2005 April - Personal income tax - scrapped in 1975 - is re-introduced. Ruling party says move is needed to tackle deficit left by former administration.

2007 March - World Trade Organisation sides with Antigua in ruling that the US has failed to comply with a ruling to relax its restrictions on offshore, online gambling. Antigua, which has an internet betting industry, filed the case in 2003.

2007 December - WTO orders the US to pay compensation to Antigua over its online gambling trade dispute, but far less than the Caribbean nation had been seeking.

2008 July - Tourism industry rocked by shooting of British honeymoon couple in holiday cottage.

2009 February - Antigua's single biggest private investor, Sir Allen Stanford, is charged with massive investment fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Spencer re-elected

2009 March - Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer leads the United Progressive Party to victory again in parliamentary elections, albeit with a reduced majority.

2009 - June - Antigua dismisses its chief financial regulator, Leroy King, after he is charged with helping Texas billionaire Allen Stanford cover up a fraud scheme.

2009 August - Antiguan government says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave it $50m in financial aid after collapse of business empire of its biggest investor, Allen Stanford.

2011 July - Two men are found guilty of murdering a honeymooning British couple shot dead in Antigua in July 2008.

2012 March - A US court finds financier Allen Stanford guilty of running a $7bn Ponzi scheme through his bank based in Antigua.

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