Anguilla's culture has been shaped by its rich and unique heritage, which includes the settlements of the island's first people, the Amerindians, the European settlers who originally came to the Caribbean in search of riches, and the African slaves who were imported to Anguilla to work on the colonists' plantations.
A group of Amerindians known as the Arawak Indians were the first people to practice religion on Anguilla. This group of indigenous people based their religious beliefs on the sun, moon, and two large caverns located on the island, where the Indians believed humans came from. The Arawaks held various religious ceremonies in the Big Springs and The Fountain caverns. Today, artifacts and other evidence of the Arawaks' religious practices can still be seen in the two caverns, including petroglyphs and offering bowls.
...several different organized religions...
In the present day, the population of Anguilla practices several different organized religions, and the islanders are largely of the Christian faith. There is a church almost every two miles on the island. The majority of the people on the island are Anglican, which makes up 40 percent of the people's religion. The next most popular denomination on Anguilla is Methodist, which accounts for approximately 33 percent of religion on the island. Other religions that have found a home on the island are Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Roman Catholic, and miscellaneous religious practices.
Anguilla has a number of annual festivals and holidays, most of which celebrate important historical events that have helped to shape the island's culture. The most spectacular cultural celebration on the island is the annual Summer Festival. This event is held in August and begins on a Monday at 5:00 a.m. with an early-morning jam called the J'Ouvert Mornin. This festival celebrates the emancipation of African slaves on Anguilla. The festivities includes dancing, parades, fairs, and other colorful events. During this and other festivals, the days consist of picnics on the beach as well as sailboat racing, which is Anguilla's national sport.
Sailboat racing is as important and celebrated on Anguilla as cricket is on other Caribbean islands. The islanders hold the first sailboat race of the season on Easter Monday. Sailboat racing on the island is a special event, and hundreds of local people, as well as tourists, gather round the island shores to witness the breathtaking race take place.
Anguilla also celebrates some English holidays, like the Queen's Birthday and Whit Monday. These events are evidence of British culture's mark on the island. Another special day for Anguillans is May 30, which is when the islanders celebrate Anguilla Day. On May 30, 1967 the St. Kitts police were forced off of Anguilla, and there was peace on the island.
In 1993, the Anguilla National Trust, or ANT, was established in order to preserve the island's heritage, natural resources, and culture so that future generations can experience the rich heritage and cultural resources of Anguilla. ANT has a number of different programs that serve as custodians over Anguilla's natural environment and archaeological sites, which are an important part of the country's history and played a major part in shaping the island's culture.
ANT diligently oversees the operation of Anguilla's national parks, protected areas, and museums, and also educates the public about the importance of the island's natural resources and historical sites.
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