The Island of Anguilla’s Rich History
The island of Anguilla (Ann-GWIL-A), British West Indies is located in the Eastern Caribbean, about six (6) miles from St. Martin. (See maps of the Caribbean and Anguilla). It is the most northeastern of the Leeward Islands, 18N, 63W. The name Anguilla derives from the Spanish word for “eel”, probably chosen because of the island’s eel-like shape.
Anguilla was first settled by Amerindian tribes who migrated from South America. The earliest Amerindian artifacts found on Anguilla have been dated to around 1300 BC, and remains of settlements date from 600 AD. The date of European discovery is uncertain: some sources claim that Columbus sighted the island in 1493, while others state that the island was first discovered by the French in 1564 or 1565. Anguilla was first colonized by English settlers from Saint Kitts, beginning in 1650. Other early arrivals included Europeans from Antigua and Barbados. It is likely that some of these early Europeans brought enslaved Africans with them.
During the early colonial period, Anguilla was administered by the British through Antigua, but in 1824 it was placed under the administrative control of nearby Saint Kitts. In 1967, Britain granted Saint Kitts and Nevis full internal autonomy, and Anguilla was also incorporated into the new unified dependency, named Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, against the wishes of many Anguillans. This led to two rebellions in 1967 and 1969 (Anguillan Revolution), headed by Ronald Webster, and a brief period as a self-declared independent republic. British authority was fully restored in July of 1971. In 1980, Anguilla was finally allowed to secede from Saint Kitts and Nevis and become a separate British colony (now a British overseas territory).