The country opted to remain within the British Commonwealth, retaining Queen Elizabeth as Monarch, represented locally by a Governor-General.
The first two decades of Antigua's independence were dominated politically by the Bird family and the ALP, with Vere Bird ruling from 1981-1994, followed by his son Lester Bird from 1994-2004.
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However a combination of European and African diseases, malnutrition, and slavery eventually killed most of the Caribbean's native population; smallpox was probably the greatest killer.
The brutal conditions endured by the slaves led to revolts in 1701, 1729 and most notably in 1736, the latter led by Prince Klaas, though it was discovered before it began and the ringleaders were executed.
The Spanish did not colonise Antigua because it lacked fresh water but not aggressive Caribs.
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The 1970s were dominated by discussions as to the islands' future and the rivalry between Vere Bird of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) (Premier from 1967 to 19 to 1981) and the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) of George Walter (Premier 1971–1976).
Eventually Antigua and Barbuda gained full independence on 1 November 1981; Vere Bird became Prime Minister of the new country.
Most of Barbuda was devastated in early September 2017 by Hurricane Irma, which brought winds with speeds reaching 295 km/h (185 mph).