Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign island country in the West Indies in the Americas, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major islands, Antigua and Barbuda separated by 63 km, and smaller islands. The permanent population number is about 97,120, with 97% being resident on Antigua. The capital and largest port and city is St. John's on Antigua, with Codrington being the largest town on Barbuda. Lying near each other, Antigua and Barbuda are in the middle of the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 17°N of the equator.
The island of Antigua was explored by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named for the Church of Santa María La Antigua. Antigua was colonized by Britain in 1632; Barbuda island was first colonised in 1678. Having been part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands from 1871, Antigua and Barbuda joined the West Indies Federation in 1958. With the breakup of the federation, it became one of the West Indies Associated States in 1967. Following self-governance in its internal affairs, independence was granted from the United Kingdom on 1 November 1981.