Anguilla

About

Anguilla is the most northerly of the Leeward Islands, located 18.3º north by 63º west. Its name (=eel) derived from its shape. The coral limestone island’s area is 91km2 and it includes several offshore islands and cays. The furthest islet, Sombrero, sits on its own long-isolated bank, lying midway between Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. Anguilla is home to 15,074 people (2011 figures). Tourism and off-shore finance are the major contributors to the island’s economy.

The Amerindians people (or as they were later called Tianos) inhabited Anguilla and other islands in the West Indies from as early as 1,500 BC. They were mainly sedentary, agricultural people that also traded with other nearby islands. Fountain Cavern, situated 250m inland from lower Shoal Bay East on the northeast coast of Anguilla is an important archeological site. Many rock art and historical artefacts are found there. It is recognised as an important example of Amerindian cultural heritage, which meant that it was previously placed on the UK’s tentative list for World Heritage Site status.

Anguilla mainland is the main island of the group and is low-lying, with a varied coastline of low cliffs, fractured rocky limestone coasts and a number of sea-bays with extensive sandy beaches. Terrestrial habitats are dense scrub on thin soils, a few areas of woodland, agricultural areas and grasslands.

The unique ecosystems of Anguilla and its offshore cays are home to many species of birds and reptiles. These include the endemics such as the black lizard Ameiva corvine, on Sombrero Island, and the Anole lizard Anolis gingivinus. They include also: the Anguillan racer snake Alsophis rijgersmaei and the lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatissima. About 129 bird species and 520 plant species have been recorded with the shrub Rondeletia anguillensis classified as an endemic.

Around the coast are a number of saline lagoons, which are important for wildlife and which, during hurricanes and periods of heavy rains, act as flood-control areas. They attract breeding water birds, gulls and terns, together with passage and wintering water birds from North American breeding grounds.

Dog Island, is a low rocky island 13 km northwest of mainland Anguilla, with 3 smaller cays off the west and north coasts. The cliffs and inland areas of scrub are home to Anguilla’s largest seabird colonies, including remarkable numbers of sooty terns Onychoprion fuscatus. The coast line is mostly low cliffs interspersed with sandy beaches. It includes the marine park, established in 1993, surrounding the islands which is important (as are several other outer islands) for nesting and foraging endangered hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, green Chelonia mydas and leatherback Dermochelys coriacea turtles. In 2014, conservation efforts to remove rats from the island were rewarded, as it was declared rat-free.

Read more about the wildlife, history and cultural heritage of all of the UK Overseas Territories in the 704 page Britain’s Treasure Islands book (CLICK HERE).

Watch 42 ‘mini-documentaries’ that explore the wildlife, cultures and history of all of the UK Overseas Territories (CLICK HERE). 

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Anguilla – wildlife and heritage

 

Read more about the wildlife, history and cultural heritage of all of the UK Overseas Territories in the 704 page Britain’s Treasure Islands book (CLICK HERE).

Watch 42 ‘mini-documentaries’ that explore the wildlife, cultures and history of all of the UK Overseas Territories (CLICK HERE).