Barbados is among one of the group of islands situated in the Caribbean Sea that are collectively known as the Caribbees. It is an autonomous island country of the New World and lies within the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern side of the islands of West Indies. Geologically, Barbados lies at the edge of the Caribbean plate and the South American plate. Almost 90 percent of the Barbadians have their lineage of Afro-Caribbeans. Caribbean people who belong to sub-saharan Africa from the late 15th century are known as Afro-Caribbeans. Apart from Afro-Caribbeans, Barbados is also home to people from United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Now let’s explore this beautiful island!
Date of independence: 30 November, 1966
Nicknames: Teeth, Bimshire
Capital City: Bridgetown
Official Language: English
Traditional Music: Calypso and Soca music
Popular Sports: Cricket, Basketball and Polo
- Between 4th and 7th centuries A.D., the indigenous peoples arrived in Barbados for the first time. This group of people was known as Saladoid-Barrancoid.
- It is not certain which one of the two European communities i.e. Spanish or Portuguese may have colonized this island first.
- The word Barbados may have come from Spanish or Portuguese language. Its meaning is ‘the bearded ones.’
- The indigenous people of Barbados spoke a group of languages known as Arawakan or Maipurean. In this language, Barbados was originally called Ichirouganaim which means ‘Red land with white teeth’.
- During 13th century, the indigenous people who settled in Barbados were known as Kalinago. They came from South America and used to speak a Cariban language called Island Carib. This language is also known as Igneri and became extinct in 1920. Thus, these people were also known as mainland Caribs or simply the Kalina people.
- When Spanish arrived, the Kalina people were one of the principal communities living in Barbados.
- During 19th century, Arawaks are believed to have come from Guyana and settled on this island.
- From 1627 to 1966, Barbados was under the control of the British.
- During the Great Hurricane of 1780, nearly 4,000 people died in Barbados.
- The people from Guyana who trace their origin from India also live in Barbados. They are collectively known as Indo-Guyanese.
- The people who came here during 17th century from United Kingdom and Ireland are known as Euro-Bajans.
- In 1643, almost 86 percent of all Barbadians were whites. Thus, they were called ‘White Bajans’.
- The Chinese-Bajans migrated to Barbados during World War II. The names of these Barbadians end in words like Lee, Chin and Chynn.
Interesting Facts about Barbados
- The people of Barbados are known as ‘Bajan’.
- As for population of hawksbill turtles, Barbados ranks second in the Caribbean.
- As for countries having largest stock exchanges, it ranks third in the Caribbean.
- In terms of population density, it ranks at the sixth position among island countries of the world.
- Barbados is one of the two countries of the world where highest percentage of people reaches 100 years of age. The other country is Japan.
- In terms of GDP per capita, Barbados is ranked 53rd among the richest countries of the world.
- It is ranked by the World Bank among the world’s 66 high-income economies.
- The literacy rate of this country is almost 100 percent.
- Built in 1654 in the capital city of Barbados, the Nidḥe Israel Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in the Americas. It was restored in 1833.
- Those Barbadians who were born in the United States are sometimes designated as ‘Bajan Yankees’. However, it is seldom used in that it is an indecent term to call the children of Barbados.
- There are four species of turtle living in this island namely leatherback sea turtle (largest turtle), hawksbill sea turtle, loggerhead and Pacific green turtle. The sabaeus monkey (green monkey) also lives in Barbados.
- Almost 10 percent of the population does not have money to meet their basic needs.
- The ancient festival of Barbados is called Crop Over. Previously, it was known as ‘Harvest Home’ because this carnival began in 1688 during British rule when sugar cane was cultivated.
- Rihanna Fenty is a Barbadian singer who is widely considered as one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She is the youngest soloist to earn 14 Billboard Hot 100’s number-one singles. She is also the winner of Grammy awards for 8 times.