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Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean's most prosperous nations thanks to its tourism industry and offshore financial services.
The country's strength lies in its tropical climate and good beaches which have made it popular as a stop-off point for US cruise ships and have attracted large investments in infrastructure.
Antigua is the main population centre and the focus for business and tourism. Relatively-undeveloped Barbuda is home to smaller exclusive resorts and a sanctuary for frigate birds.
Antigua and Barbuda became independent in 1981
But a reliance on tourism makes the nation vulnerable to downturns in the world market. Internet gambling sites based in the country are an alternative source of revenue. However Antigua and the US have been locked in a trade dispute over American restrictions on online gaming.
For decades Antigua and Barbuda's politics was dominated by the Bird family with Vere Bird being the country's prime minister from independence in 1981 until 1994 when he was succeeded by his son Lester who spent a decade in office.
Underlying this stability was a succession of scandals including allegations of corruption. The Bird family was also accused of abuse of authority.
Antigua and Barbuda once described by the US as a centre for money laundering was recognised by an international task force in 2001 as being "fully cooperative" in the fight against the activity.
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II represented by the Governor-General
Prime minister: Baldwin Spencer
Baldwin Spencer and the opposition United Progressive Party won a landslide victory in general elections in March 2004.
Baldwin Spencer: His election victory ended long-running Bird dynasty
The win ended the political dynasty of the Bird family which had dominated Antiguan politics for more than half a century.
Mr Spencer promised to fight corruption and added that "crimes committed against the people" would not go unpunished. He led the United Progressive Party to victory again at the March 2009 general election albeit with a reduced majority.
A lifelong labour activist Baldwin Spencer was born in the working-class community of Green Bay.
The premiership of Lester Bird Mr Spencer's predecessor had been dogged by allegations of bribery and of missing funds from Antigua's health care system. Mr Bird denied the charges.
Many of Antigua and Barbuda's TV and radio stations are owned or controlled by the Antigua Labour Party and the Bird family.
The country's first independent radio station Observer Radio launched in 2001 after a five-year struggle to obtain a licence.
Dailies and weeklies carry a range of opinions including criticism of the government.
BBC World Service radio is available on 89.1 FM.
Crusader Radio - owned by United Progressive Party
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