Around 4000 years ago, Anguilla was a lush island covered in dense rain forest. It was discovered by Amerindian peoples who came by dugout canoes and rafts from South America’s mainland. They called Anguilla “Malliouhana” which meant arrow-shape sea serpent and they developed villages, farms and ceremonial sites to their gods. Evidence of these Amerindians as old as 3300 years has been found at the eastern end of Anguilla.
Christopher Columbus sailed by Anguilla is 1493 but never landed. During this time the Europeans changed the island’s name from Malliouhana to Anguilla, for its long eel shape. It was in 1650 that Anguilla fi rst became colonized. English settlers found that the soil in Anguilla was good for growing corn and tobacco, so plantations began. Over the next 150 years, the French and English battled over this island territory with England eventually emerging victorious.
Heading into the 1800s Anguilla possessed a plantation economy like most of the Caribbean. Rum, sugar, cotton, indigo, fustic and mahogany were its chief exports. Then, in the 1830s the union of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was formed on Britain’s recommendation: a union protested by the majority of Anguilla’s freeholders. Anguilla was allowed one freeholder representative to the House of Assembly on the Island of St. Kitts and was mostly neglected by the tri-island legislature.
In 1958, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla became part of the Federation of the West Indies. The Federation collapsed in 1962, which resulted in individual constitutions for most islands. St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was made an associated statehood, a political decision that sparked the Anguilla Revolution. Anguilla wanted its independence from the state and the proposed union was not a viable option for the island.
May 30, 1967 is celebrated today as Anguilla Day. This day commemorates the repulsion of the Royal St. Kitts Police Force from the island. Britain intervened and a peacekeeping committee was established. Debates over Anguilla’s succession continued to be negotiated for another decade until December 19, 1980, Anguilla became a separate Dependent Territory with some measure of autonomy in Government.