The name Anguilla, meaning 'eel', was given to the island by the Spanish, because of the island's eel-like shape. It was the British, however, who first settled on Anguilla in the 17th century; the island was administered in conjunction with the Leeward Islands. During the middle of 20th Century, Anguilla was incorporated into St Kitts and Nevis, despite opposition from the islanders. Upon St Kitts' independence in 1967, the Anguillians refused to accept independent government from there; a rather bizarre and occasionally comical 'crisis' followed, during which British paratroopers and policemen were sent in to install a Commissioner to maintain British rule on the islands.
Formally, the islands became a 'state in association' with the UK until 1980, when it was granted the status of a British Dependent Territory. Domestic politics have been dominated by the shifting fortunes of the Anguilla United Movement, the Anguilla Democratic Party and the Anguilla National Alliance. The most recent general election, in February 2010, was won by the Anguilla United Movement (AUM), which is headed by Chief Minister Hubert Hughes.
There are seven elected seats in Anguilla's assembly - four assembly members are appointed, three by the governor and one by the ruling party. The assembly is part of the executive council, led by the chief minister who advises the governor, who is appointed by the British monarch, according to the 1982 constitution.
Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Moravian, with Hindu, Jewish and Muslim minorities.Social conventions:
The government is anxious to set limits to the commercialisation of the island and visitors will find that social life is centred on the tourist areas. Anguillians will greet anyone they meet, whether they know them personally or not, and expect to be acknowledged in return. The atmosphere is relaxed and English customs prevail. Beachwear should be confined to resorts. Topless and nude bathing is prohibited.
English is the official and commercial language.