Barbados: the Popular Tourist Destination in The West Indies Islands
By James Hunt
Barbados is a pear-shaped island in the Caribbean and is a popular tourist destination. The people of Barbados are West Indian and call themselves "Bajans". The island has an area of 430 square miles with a population of 240,000. Ninety pre cent of the population is of African descent, the main language spoken is English and the people are mostly of the Protestant religious denomination.
History of Barbados
The Arawak Indians are believed to have been the first inhabitants of Barbados, and were driven off the island in the 1200's by the Carib Indians who came there from Venezuela. The Spanish are believed to visited the island in the 1500's, but it is known that a Portuguese explorer named Pedro a Campos introduced pigs to Barbados in 1536 and it was he who named the island Los Barbados. The name means "bearded ones" and instead of referring to the inhabitants it refers to the fig trees on the island. Captain John Powell claimed the island for England in 1625. The island was a British colony for many years, but now it is an independent state within the British Commonwealth. The first settlement was established at Jamestown in 1627 on the site of what is now named Holetwon.
These settlers established tobacco and cotton fields and later began a flourishing sugar industry and continued to boom until a sugar crop failure in the middle of the nineteenth century. Much of the field work was done by slaves and the slave trade also flourished here, even after slavery was abolished in Britain. The land was owned by the large estates and in order to survive the black population has to either stay on the plantations if they wanted to survive.
Government of Barbados
The island freeholders formed a legislative assembly on Barbados in 1639, only the second British colony to have such a form of government at that time. In 1651, the island received its own charter that guaranteed the island its own governor, a freely elected assembly, and no taxes without the inhabitants' consent. In the Depression, there was a severe problem with unemployment in Barbados, so the British government set up the office of British Colonial Welfare and Development. This move gave large sums of money to the island and provided for representation by the black people of the population in the political process. One of the black residents pressing for these reforms actually became a Prime Minister of the island and received a knighthood from the queen. In 1961, Barbados was granted self-government and in 1966, it became an independent nation.
Culture of Barbados
In spite of the British influences, West Indian culture predominates on Barbados, except in sports where cricket is the most popular game. In terms of family life, music and food, the West Indian influences are stronger than any remaining British influences. There is a rising sense of black pride as there is still a lot of racial discrimination and segregation in existence.
Many people travel to Barbados on holiday and tourism is the main industry. There are international flights from all over the world to the Barbados Grantley International Airport. There are approximately 500,00 cruise ships that make Barbados a stop on their travel itinerary each year. The main mode of travel on the island is by bus, but visitors can rent a car from one of the many rental agencies. The currency used is the Barbados dollar, but all the hotels take US currency and credit cards. Travellers will only need the island currency if they visit unique island places in out of the way spots.
James Hunt has spent 15 years as a professional writer and researcher covering stories that cover a whole spectrum of interest.
Read more at www.best-of-barbados.info
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.