Anguilla is the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean. It is a flat island with an area of some 91 sq km but limited natural resources. It has, however, one of the most important largely unbroken coral reefs in the Eastern Caribbean. Its coastal and marine biodiversity (including fish, seabirds and marine turtles) is the island’s most important natural asset.
Colonised by British and Irish settlers in 1650, Anguilla has had an eventful shared history with its neighbour St Kitts and Nevis and was administered at times as a single colony and an associated state with St Kitts and Nevis.
The Anguillians, believing their interests were being ignored and wishing to retain their direct links with Britain, sought separation at various times in the 1950s and 60s.
This disquiet culminated in what is known as “the Anguilla revolution” of 1967. Anguilla came under direct UK administration in the 1970s, and eventually became a separate British Dependent Territory in 1980.
Government is executed through a Governor appointed by the Crown, an Executive Council which has the general control and direction of government, and a House of Assembly.
The Governor has reserved powers in respect of legislation, and is responsible for external affairs, offshore finance, defence and internal security (including the police force) and aspects of the public service.
The Executive Council consists of the Chief Minister, not more than three other Ministers and the Attorney General and Deputy Governor. The House of Assembly has 12 members. Elections are held every five years and last took place in February 2010.
Anguilla has built a reputation as a beautiful, safe, exclusive and high-end tourism destination. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy, although construction and financial services have also played roles in Anguilla’s development.
The international financial services industry has steadily grown over the last decade. The Financial Services Commission, the island’s regulatory body, was established as an independent, self-funded statutory authority in 2004 and oversees all Anguilla’s international financial services activities.
Anguilla was assessed by the OECD Peer Review Group in 2011 and was successful in proceeding to Phase II of the assessment programme.
Anguilla’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing systems were assessed in 2010 by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force for compliance against the recognised international standard.
The Task Force ranked Anguilla among the best in the region. Anguilla graduated from UK bilateral development assistance in 2003 and then experienced economic growth averaging 14% per annum between 2003 and 2007.
The global downturn starting in 2008 hit Anguilla’s economy and public finances hard. Recently the UK has provided technical assistance from a regional risk management allocation to help Anguilla effectively manage its public finances and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of delivering public services.