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  • Barbados!

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    This Caribbean island has hints of British culture, but is wholly Caribbean as well. Explore Barbados!

BarbadosThe name Barbados is unknown. The name of los Barbudos (similarly, the modern island of Barbuda in the Caribbean was called los Barbuadas) was given to the island by either the Portuguese or Spanish, a name that means "bearded one." However, how or what was bearded is up for debate. Some claim it is a reference to the local Carib people, others say it refers to the hanging roots of the fig trees, or even the water shooting out over the reefs looking like a beard.


Barbados is a fairly dry island, but gets regular seasonal rains so there is enough agriculture to survive on, but it is not as fertile as many other islands in the Caribbean. For this reason, the people and life on the island over time has been fairly inconsistent.

In early history people made their way to the island, surviving on the seas and lands, however consistency on the island was irregular and there was little semblance of a distinct culture when the Europeans arrived to the region. In fact, the land wasn't even fertile or lucrative enough for the Spanish when they arrived in the 1500s, so instead of settling, they raided the island for slaves and almost completely depopulated the island in the process. Because of this, there are almost no remnants of the historic culture of the indigenous people on Barbados and even after the Spanish raids there was little in the way of culture for some time as the island was nearly deserted.

In the 1600s the British arrived to Barbados as indentured servants also immigrated to gain lands they were unable to obtain in Great Britain. Because most of this early labor force arrived from the United Kingdom, and not Africa like most of the Caribbean, the culture was almost wholly British at this time.

This British-based culture was short-lived; after sugarcane was introduced to the island, many land owners came to the realization it was cheaper to work African slaves than British indentured servants, increasing the African population as this group of people soon became the dominant people on the island. Despite this, the British culture was strongly engrained in the people by this point and many of these cultural aspects were passed on to the slaves.

Over time the African population had taken over the majority on the island and there are aspects of African roots in the culture, but the island remains distinctly British in many ways. From an organizational level, and in the way of social projects and programs, the British influence is impossible to miss. The foods, dress, and manners are also distinctly British as is the language. However, African roots are also seen, particularly in music and many foods.

Despite the many similarities with both the United Kingdom and Africa, Barbados maintains its own lifestyle, foods, and traditions which take aspects of both of these cultures. These unique aspects of Barbados primarily come from their location, their weather, and their people, who are rooted in Africa, but heavily influenced by Britain.

The blue and gold on Barbados's flag represent the sky, sea, and golden beaches of the country. The trident head represents independence and a break from their past; their colonial flag contained a complete trident.

Name: Barbados
Independence: November 30, 1966
Capital: Bridgetown
Currency: Barbadian Dollar
Population: 288,725 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: African & others
Language: English
Religion: Protestant

Information for Barbados was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks