Anguilla is an island directly north of Puerto Rico and is one of the farthest north islands of the Lesser Antilles. It is a flat island with very little in terms of arable land; although it is very remarkable through its impressive coral reef structures. Anguilla is currently an overseas British territory and you'll find Anguilla history to be very interesting.
Anguilla Early Civilization
The very first record of inhabitants of the island was by the Amerindian tribes coming from South America. These were the first people to inhabit Anguilla and the first Europeans arrived much later.
The Amerindians came to the island on rafts and canoes for the purpose of hunting and fishing. Due to the style of artifacts that have been found on this island, it is most probable that these people were of a very religious nature and much ceremonious evidence has been uncovered. The likely chain of events probably includes the more powerful Carib tribes replacing the Amerindians but this is not supported through sufficient evidence.
No one is particularly sure about the exact date when Europeans first discovered Anguilla. Some people say it was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, although many others would suggest a French discovery in 1564. This would make sense as the island's name is derived from the word for an eel found amongst many of the romance languages. The island has a long and thin eel like shape - 26km by 5km.
European Discovery of Anguilla
The discovery of the island is generally attributed to the Frenchman Pierre Laudonnaire and the Dutch have claimed to have built a fort on the island around this period. Unfortunately there are no remains of this alleged fort on the island.
In terms of European settlers however, there is far less confusion. It was first colonized by the British in 1650 and remained this way until the beginning of the 19th century. There was a short period of time in which the British were driven out by Carib tribes who destroyed much of the settlement. The French took this opportunity to capture the island before the British got their act together and took control of the island again. In 1967 the Island was firmly taken under the control of the British.
There was a great deal of uncertainty during this period and the French and British were in a lengthy battle over control in many Caribbean locations. The French tried to invade the island again in both 1745 and 1796 but to no avail.
Under British control, the island was transformed into a plantation island although the soils proved to be unsuitable for this usage. Slaves on the island were hence allowed to continue their own lives and the British tycoons all left for Europe. This followed the abolition of slavery and the population fell to around 2,000 people. This was the lowest since settlement and largely made from African tribes.
After much protestation by the inhabitants, the island was given a status of an associated state in 1967. This afforded them their very own constitution yet they were still not satisfied with this outcome. Two separate referendums finally pushed through a decision to become re-associated with the island of saint Kitts - named after Christopher Columbus.
The island gained its separation from its neighbors and remains a British overseas dependency; Saint Kitts gained its independence in 1983. Anguilla is now a well known tourist destination - a far cry from its early days of settlement and a huge transformation has taken place on the island over the years.