Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island country in the Caribbean. This former British Colony is a popular tourist destination and is accessible on direct flights from the UK, USA, and Canada. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands (including Great Bird, Green, Guinea, Long, Maiden and York Islands and further south, the island of Redonda). The country’s name was given by Christopher Columbus in 1493 after discovering the island, in honor of the Virgin of La Antigua in the Seville Cathedral. The Spaniards did not colonise Antigua because it lacked fresh water but not aggressive Caribs. The English settled on Antigua in 1632; Sir Christopher Codrington settled on Barbuda in 1684. Slavery, established to run sugar plantations around 1684, was abolished in 1834. The British ruled from 1632 to 1981, with a brief French interlude in 1666. The islands became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations on 1 November 1981, with Elizabeth II as the first Queen of Antigua and Barbuda.