Anguilla Investment Policy

Anguilla (rhymes with vanilla) used to tout itself as the Caribbean's best-kept secret. Small, serene, and secluded, visitors could enjoy the privacy of small-island life and still be close to St. Maarten/St. Martin, with its gambling, shopping, and nightlife. However, the island's secret was let out in the 1990s when the opening of some super deluxe (and super expensive) hotels attracted a sophisticated jet set. Now one of the Caribbean's most chic destinations -- rivaling even St. Barts (a prettier island and just as luxurious) -- Anguilla has nonetheless remained tranquil. If you're looking to rest, unwind, and be pampered, this is the place for you.

The post-millennium opening of some moderately priced hotels means that even more visitors can enjoy Anguilla's standards of tropical luxury. However, note that except for a handful of large-scale hotels, operations on Anguilla tend to be small and informal, as the island has tried to control development and conserve natural beauty and resources. And with good reason: The coastline has some of the finest white-sand beaches in the Caribbean. More than 30 beaches dot the island, shaded by sea-grape trees.

The northernmost of the British Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, 8km (5 miles) north of St. Maarten, Anguilla is only 26km (16 miles) long, with 91 sq. km (35 sq. miles) in land area. The little island has a population of approximately 9,000 people. Most are of African descent, though many are European, predominantly Irish. Anguilla's scant rainfall makes for unproductive soil that supports mainly low foliage and sparse scrub vegetation. The locals work primarily in the tourist industry or fish for lobster.

Once part of the federation with St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla gained its independence in 1980 and has since been a self-governing British possession. In 1996, however, London issued a policy statement that locals have viewed as a move to push them toward independence. Many Anguillians believe that Britain has now reduced its global ambitions and wants to relinquish colonies that have become too expensive to maintain. Though islanders may fear going it alone as a nation, they know that to retain Britain's protection, they would also have to abide by British laws -- including its liberal position on gay rights. For the most part, islanders remain archly conservative and often homophobic.

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