The island of Anguilla was first settled by Saladoid Indians, who were named after Saladero region from which they first migrated at the lower coast of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

Like many of the Amerindian tribes that occupied the Caribbean region, the Saladoids were skilled farmers, fishermen, pottery makers and generally tended to occupy islands with fertile soils and plenty rainfall. The traditional practices and customs of the Saladoids were also similar to those of other Amerindian tribes, but their art was marked by its distinctive style and the firing methods that were used for sculpting stone and coral for making ornaments and tools. In Puerto Rico, for example, Saladoid art is recognised by the blend of red and white or salmon-pink on red. The flint blades, bowls and stone axes discovered in Anguilla are estimated to be old as 3,300 years, indicating that the Saladoids lived in Anguilla during the period of 430B.C. and 800 A.D

Artifacts of the Saladoid culture such as stalagmite carvings of Jocahu – the Supreme Deity, petroglyphs and offering bowls are found in the eastern parts of Anguilla at The Fountain and Big Springs, where two of Anguilla’s most important historical sites are located. Many of the petroglyphs in these areas were discovered by archeologists who, over the years, made various expeditions to Anguilla. Similar to other Amerindian tribes that settled the region, the Saladoids had their own understanding of the origins of man and believed in the sun and moon and two sacred caverns from where man originated.

The Dutch were recorded to have occupied Anguilla during the early 1630’s before the British, though no evidence of their presence on the island was found. British colonization of Anguilla in 1650 led to a new turn of events in the island’s political, economic and social history with the development of the African slave trade, plantation class system and a monocultural sugar economy. However, Anguilla’s dry soil did not present the right conditions for long term sugar and tobacco production, forcing British settlers and plantation owners to abandon the island in search of lands with more fertile soils and lucrative business opportunities. The plantations that remained under sugar production were small and did not require much slave labour.

Economic activity in Anguilla eventually moved towards subsistent peasant farming, fishing, animal husbandry, sailing, boat building, and then, the production of salt (from the salt ponds that were found). With the abolition of slavery in 1834 and then Apprenticeship in 1838, the total number of inhabitants on Anguilla dwindled to approximately 2,000 people.

Unlike mountainous islands such as St. Vincent and Dominica that were inhabited by fierce resistant Carib Indians, British settlers on Anguilla did not have to deal with Saladoid attacks since the tribe had already abandoned the island and moved elsewhere by the time of British occupation. However, British settlements were destroyed sometime in 1656 by the attack of Indians from who inhabited a nearby island.

Anguilla was conquered by the French in 1666, forcing British settlers to flee into the interior parts of the country. But French occupation only lasted for one year, Anguilla was returned to Britain and in 1668 the Treaty of Breda gave formal recognition to British ownership. In 1744, the British in Anguilla were able to capture French St. Martin with the help of privateers who had settled on St. Kitts. In 1745, an attempt by the French to regain control of St. Martin by attacking British settlements at Crocus Bay in Anguilla was to no avail and three years later, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle restored French control in St. Martin.

By the late 1930’s, the sense of nationhood and independence had grown among Anguillans. The formation of the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was met with much discontent because most Anguillans felt that they were made to join the union against their will. Additionally, Anguilla had only one freeholder representative to speak on its behalf at the House of Assembly and as a result, Anguillans did not feel that they were being fairly represented. In 1962, St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla were made an associated statehood and this led to the Anguilla Revolution in 1967. In 1980, Anguilla was separated from the Federation and became a British Dependent Overseas Territory.