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Anguilla (Spanish for “eel”) is one of the islands above the winds of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Together with several small, uninhabited coral islands, Anguilla forms an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.
Anguilla is a relatively flat island made up of coral and limestone. The highest point with 65 m is Crocus Hill. The island owes its name to its elongated shape: with a length in the southwest-northeast direction of about 25 km, the maximum width is only about 5 km.
South of Anguilla lies the island of St. Martin, to the west are the Virgin Islands almost 200 km away and Puerto Rico about 300 km away.
The climate is tropical, tempered by eastern winds. Hurricanes and other tropical storms can be expected from July to October. The supply of drinking water cannot always keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand.
The area of the island is almost 91 km². The largest secondary islands are Scrub Island in the northeast with about 3 km² and Dog Island with about 2 km² northwest of Anguilla. There are also over 20 small islands and Cays such as Prickly Pear Cays, Anguillita off the southwest tip of Anguilla, Little Scrub Island and the island of Sombrero 55 km northwest. Together, the overseas territory has an area of just over 96 km².
Most of the population is made up of blacks and colored people. Anguilla has about 13.600 inhabitants (2011). The largest settlement is South Hill with almost 1700 inhabitants.
Anguilla is a non-sovereign British overseas territory with internal autonomy – as such it is associated with the EU. Anguilla is also an associated member of the Caribbean Community and a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. It is one of the sponsors of the University of the West Indies.
The Governor, representing the British Crown, is primarily responsible for defence, foreign and international financial policy and internal security (including police). The governor is appointed by the British monarch, currently Elizabeth II.
Anguilla’s autonomous government is the Executive Council, consisting of the Head of Government (Chief Minister), a maximum of three other ministers and, qua Amt, the Deputy Governor and the Attorney General.
At least every five years, Anguilla’s electorate elects a House of Assembly, composed of seven elected members, two members nominated by the Governor and, qua office, the Deputy Governor and the Attorney General. Anguilla is divided into 14 districts.
The road network is 175 km long, 82 km of which are paved (as of 2004). The island has two ports: Blowing Point and Road Bay.
South of the capital, The Valley, is Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (ICAO: TQPF; IATA: AXA), called Anguilla Wallblake Airport until 2010.
Since 1996, Anguilla has also been home to a broadcasting station for international radio called “Caribbean Beacon”. Religious programmes from the US “University Network” and “Dr. Gene Scott” are broadcast both locally on VHF and internationally on two medium and short wave frequencies. The short-wave transmitters can also often be received in good quality in Europe, while the medium wave is occasionally heard by reception specialists in the winter months.
Anguilla has few natural resources. The economy is mainly based on tourism and financial services. The money transfers of the numerous emigrants to their former homeland are also of importance. Formerly important branches of industry such as salt extraction and lobster fishing now contribute only to a minor extent to the gross domestic product.
In recent decades, Anguilla’s economic development has been based mainly on the development of tourism, particularly in the luxury segment. In the medium term too, the island government is committed to the sustainable development of tourism. In 2016, the direct contribution of the tourism sector to Anguilla’s GDP was 19.2%; the total contribution, which also takes into account the impact of tourism on other sectors of the economy, was 56.6% of the island’s total economic output in the same year.
The one-sided focus on tourism means that economic development is heavily dependent on the economic situation in Europe and the USA. From 2003 to 2007, Anguilla’s economy, fuelled in particular by the construction sector stimulated by foreign direct investment in tourism, experienced an unprecedented upturn, with annual real growth rates of up to 17.3%, before plunging into a sharp recession as a result of the global financial crisis (with GDP falling by 16.5% in 2009). A further economic risk is the threat of hurricanes, the destruction of which has hit the disaster-sensitive tourism sector particularly hard. Hurricanes Luis in 1995 and Lenny in 1999 in particular had a noticeable impact on Anguilla’s economy.
In order to alleviate its dependence on tourism, Anguilla, like many other Caribbean states, has established itself as an offshore financial centre, especially as a location for captive insurance companies. The financial sector now accounts for around a quarter of the island’s economic output.
Anguilla’s foreign trade balance is strongly negative; in 2016, imports of US$ 63.2 million contrasted with exports of only US$ 12.4 million. The current account balance is also chronically negative. For the year 2016, the shortfall was estimated at US$ 25.3 million.
Anguilla’s currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), which is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 1 US$ = 2.70 EC$, which is also widely accepted as a second currency.