Barbados is a state located on the island of the same name in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the chain of Lesser Antilles. The head of state is the Queen of Great Britain, represented by the Governor General. The area is 430 sq. km. The population is 280 thousand people. About 90% of the population are blacks and mulattoes. Among the whites the descendants of the English colonists are prominent. The official language is English. The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown.
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Before the Spaniards, the island was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib Indian tribes. In 1625 Barbados was conquered by the English who planted sugar and tobacco crops and employed slave laborers brought from Africa. Barbados’ independence was declared in 1966.
Barbados is a green tropical island formed by coral limestone. The relief is flat with gradually rising terraces to the center. The coastline is dazzling pink and white beaches of the finest coral sand, fringed with tall palm trees. Barbados has one of the healthiest climates in the West Indies. The average temperature in September (the warmest month) is 27°C, in February (the coolest) 25°C. During the dry season (December-June), the tropical heat is moderated by the northeasterly trade winds from the Atlantic, and the island is constantly blown by breezes.
The basis of agriculture is the production of sugar cane. Numerous rainforests of Barbados were destroyed as a result of the “sugar rush. The real disaster for the country were imported in the XIX century to exterminate rats mongooses, which began to eat poultry and even small animals. Each year, more than 300 thousand tourists visit the island, built here first-class hotels and an international airport.
History of Barbados
The first settlers on Barbados were Indian nomads. Three waves of immigration passed through the island, which then headed toward North America. The first wave included members of the Saladoid-Barrancoid group, indigenous Venezuelans who came to the island by canoe from the Orinoco River Valley around 350 A.D.. They farmed, fished, and made pottery. Later, around 800 A.D. Arawak Indians arrived on the island, also from South America. Arawak settlements on the island include Stroud Point, Chandler Bay, Saint Luke’s Gully, and Mapp’s Cave. According to records of tribal descendants from other neighboring islands, the island was originally called Ichirouganaim. In the 13th century, the island was settled by the Carib Indians, displacing both of the preceding tribes. For the next several centuries the Caribs, like the Arawak and Saladoid Barrancoid tribes before them, lived on the island in isolation.
The name “Barbados” came from the Portuguese explorer Pedro Campos in 1536, who first called the island “Os Barbados” (bearded) because of its abundance of fig trees covered with beard-like epiphytes. Between 1536 and 1550, the Spanish conquistadors captured many Caribs on the island and used them as slaves on the plantations. Some Caribs did escape from the island.
British sailors who landed on the island in the 1620s at what is now Holetown found the island uninhabited. From the first British settlers in 1627-1628 until independence in 1966, Barbados was under continuous British control. Nevertheless, Barbados was content with the wide autonomy it was granted. Its parliament, the House of Assembly, was formed in 1639. Among the first important British representatives was Sir William Courtenay.
Beginning in the 1620s, large numbers of black slaves were brought to the island. 5,000 natives died of fever in 1647 and a tenth of the slaves were killed by Royalist planters during the English Revolution in the 1640s for fear that the ideas of the Levellers movement might spread among the slaves if Parliament took over.
At that time, a large number of contracted Celts, mostly from Ireland and Scotland, migrated to the island. For the next several centuries the Celts served as a buffer between the Anglo-Saxon planters and the large black population. They often served in the colonial militia and played a serious role as allies of the black population in the never-ending series of colonial conflicts. In addition, the English brought large numbers of Scots and Irish to the island as slaves in 1659. Under English King James II and other Stuart kings, Scottish and English slaves were also brought to the island, for example in 1685 at the suppression of the Monmouth Rebellion in England. Today’s descendants of these slaves ironically refer to themselves as “Red Legs” and are among the poorest people in contemporary Barbados. There was also frequent mixing of blood between the black African population and the Celts. Because the African population was better adapted to the local climate and less susceptible to tropical diseases, and because the white population emigrated more often at the first opportunity, the predominantly Celtic population in the 17th century was overwhelmingly replaced by the black population by the 20th century.
As the sugar industry became the main commercial activity on the island, Barbados was divided into large plantation estates, which were replaced by small plots by early British settlers. Some of the displaced farmers moved to the British colonies of North America, especially South Carolina. Slaves from West Africa were brought to Barbados and other Caribbean islands to work on plantations. The slave trade ended in 1804. But still ongoing oppression led in 1816 to the largest slave revolt in the island’s history. About a thousand people died in the rebellion for freedom, 144 were executed, and another 123 were deported by the royal army. Eighteen years later, in 1834, slavery in the British colonies was finally abolished. In Barbados and the other British colonies in the West Indies, full emancipation from slavery was preceded by a six-year period of apprenticeship.
In the years that followed, however, plantation owners and British traders still dominated local politics, thanks to the property census in electoral votes. More than 70% of the population, including disenfranchised women, were excluded from the democratic process. This continued until the 1930s, when descendants of freed slaves organized a political rights movement. One of the leaders of this movement was Sir Grantley Adams, who founded the Barbados Labor Party, later renamed the Barbados Progressive League in 1938. Although he was a staunch supporter of the monarchy, Adams and his party demanded greater rights for the poor. Progress toward a democratic government was made in 1942, when the property census was lowered and women gained the right to vote. By 1949, power was wrested from the planters, and in 1958 Adams became the country’s prime minister.
From 1958 to 1962 Barbados was one of ten members of the West Indies Federation, a nationalist organization that advocated independence for the British colonies in the region. The monarchically-minded Adams could no longer meet the needs of the people. Errol Walton Barrow, a major reformer, left Adams’s party and founded the Democratic Labor Party as a liberal alternative to the Barbados Progressive League, succeeding Adams as premier in 1961.
With the dissolution of the Federation, Barbados returned to its former status as a self-governing colony. In June 1966, the island entered into negotiations with Great Britain for its independence, and on November 30, 1966, the island’s independence was formally declared and Errol Barrow became its first prime minister.
Geography of Barbados
Barbados is a relatively flat island, rising gently toward the central part. The highest point Mount Hillaby, 336 meters above sea level, is in the Scottish region of the island. There are no permanent rivers on the island, the main part of the land is coral limestone. The island is located at some distance from the other islands of the Caribbean Sea. The climate of the island is mild subtropical, the rainy season lasts from June to October.
Although some suggest that the island is in the seasonal tropical storm and hurricane zone, this is not really true – it is located somewhat away from the traditional hurricane belt, on its southern tip. Nevertheless, about every 3 years the island finds itself in a hurricane zone, and the frequency of a direct hit is about once every 26.6 years.
The island is administratively divided into 11 counties: Christ Church, St. Andrew, St. George, St. James, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Lucie, St. Michael, St. Peter, St. Philip and St. Thomas.
St. Michael County is home to Bridgetown, the capital and main city of Barbados. Other towns on the island are Holetown in St. James County, Oistins in Christ Church County and Speightstown in St. Peter County.
The island is 23 kilometers wide and 34 kilometers long at its widest part.
Economy of Barbados
Historically, Barbados’ economy has always been dependent on sugar cane cultivation and related activities. The economy faced some difficulties in the mid-1980s due to government policies, but has recently returned to growth following the implementation of the IMF-recommended structural adjustment package. In addition, the economy has been successfully diversified into the tourism industry and light industry. Offshore financial and information institutions are widely represented on the island. Since the late 1990s, the island has seen a construction boom with new hotels, apartment buildings, offices, etc. popping up everywhere.
The government continues to fight unemployment, welcomes foreign investment in the economy, and privatizes the remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment had previously fallen by 14%, and recently by another 10%.
Economic growth declined slightly in 2001 and 2002 due to a decrease in tourist arrivals, consumer activity and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but returned to previous levels in 2003 and exceeded them in 2004. Barbados’ traditional trading partners are Canada, the Caribbean Community (especially Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom and the United States.
Since the 2003 agreement with Canada for a $25 million Canadian investment in the country, business ties and investment flows on the island have increased markedly. According to some reports, the richest permanent resident of the island is Canadian businessman Eugene Melnick of Toronto.
In 2004, it was announced that the 2007 cricket final would be held at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
It is believed that 2006 will be a record year for commercial construction in Barbados.
Population of Barbados
The population of Barbados is 279,000 with a population growth rate of 0.33% (2005 data). About 90% of the population (who call themselves Bajans) are black (Afro-Bajans), mostly descended from slaves laboring in the sugar cane industry. The remainder of the population includes a European group (Anglo-Bajans), Asians, Hindi Bajans and an influential Muslim group from the Middle East (Arab Bajans), mostly descendants of Syria and Lebanon.
Other national groups include those from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, or Hispanics who have come to work. Barbadians who have returned from the United States are called Yankee Azerbaijanis, which is offensive to some.
The official language in Barbados is English, the local dialect of which is called “Bajan. 67% of residents identify themselves as Protestant believers under the Anglican Church; the Roman Catholic Church, Hinduism and Muslim minorities are also represented on the island.
Transport in Barbados
The mainstay of public transportation in Barbados is bus service. The 3 bus systems operate 7 days a week (less frequent on Sundays), with a fare of 1.50 Barbadian dollars. Along with the large blue municipal buses of the Barbados Transport System, bus service is also represented by private shuttle buses called ZR’s (pronounced “zed-ars”), as well as the “minibuses” company, which go around all the important places on the island. These minibuses can sometimes be crowded, but usually choose the most spectacular places to travel. These buses usually depart either from the capital city of Bridgetown or from Speightstown in the north of the island.
Private company minibuses give change; Barbados Transport System municipal buses do not. Many routes can only be switched at Bridgetown. However, if you wait long enough, you can find a bus that goes directly to your destination rather than through the capital city. Usually drivers are happy to pick you up wherever you are, but private company drivers are very reluctant to suggest alternative routes, even if those are better suited to you.
The hunt for customers begins at the bus terminal (sometimes even in a parking lot full of buses); very often the ZR’s driver tries to lead you to his car while loudly bickering with other drivers. In fact, such bickering is not as dramatic as it seems at first glance.
Some hotels also offer a shuttle service to the island’s attractions. Typically, their shuttles depart directly from the hotel entrance. The island is also full of cabs, although their services are quite expensive. Visitors can also rent a car if they have a valid license. You should just note that the traffic in Barbados is left-handed.