Barbados. Little England.

For me, Barbados is the best island. I decided this long ago, when no one believed in the reality of travel to the Caribbean islands, and I myself too. I just had a dream – to see the most pirate island. And then, quite unexpectedly, this dream came true…

When the dream that you cherished since your childhood comes true, you don’t pay attention to small details: you are not afraid of bad weather, you are ready to forgive palm trees a little height, and the beach is not white sand enough. None of this matters in those moments when your childhood fiction, grown from old frayed books, becomes reality. I would have loved this island any way – rainy, hurricane-like, deserted, overcrowded, feral, rolled in asphalt. Just for the fact that it is Barbados!

But the coveted island did not fail! And the weather was good, and slender palm trees, and snow-white sand, and the sea was warm. And if there was a contest for the most cheerful place on earth, Barbados would win with a very large margin!

And realizing long before the cruise that you can not hurry in paradise, and the dream does not tolerate rush, I set up for leisurely contemplation. The most famous thing in Barbados are its beaches, but lying under palm trees, even so beautiful, we could not afford. The island itself, which I’d been traveling to for so many years, would remain undiscovered. No, I couldn’t do that, for it was Barbados!

The honor and glory of the discovery of Barbados cannot be attributed to any of the great mariners. The island had been known and inhabited long before the great discoveries, and it was inhabited by the very real Indians, who had come in their canoes from South America and remained on the island. The same Arawaks who lived on St. Lucia also settled on Barbados, for the distances were short and the canoes reliable. Back then the island was hard to pronounce – Ichirigouganaim and, writing down the name from our driver’s words, I made almost as many mistakes as there were letters in the word.

Then Lusha’s story repeated itself – militant Caribs came to Arawak lands, quickly ousted the rightful owners and began to live on the island, not wishing to have either business or friendly relations with anyone.

In the 16th century, the ships of the Portuguese navigators sailed past the shores. An unfamiliar island caught everyone’s attention (an entertainment in the midst of a dull and monotonous daily routine) and sailors poured out on deck and began to see what it was they found among the sea.

– Barbados! Barbados! – came from all directions.

And indeed, the shores along which the ship sailed were overgrown with strange-looking trees, whose trunks were covered with something resembling a huge, shaggy beard. Now anyone in Barbados would say they were fig trees, but no one knew about them then.

How and how the name caught on to the island, and how it stuck, I don’t know. The Portuguese sailed past, the island did not interest them in anything, nor did the Portuguese crown. And yet, the honor of the discovery of Barbados can be safely attributed to the Portuguese, no matter how you look at it, but they gave it the name by which the island is now known to the whole world, completely forgetting about the first name given by the Indians.

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As usual, the Spanish conquistadors did not doze off and also liked to go somewhere unexplored to find something useful and derelict. So Barbados came their way, which they quickly rechristened Barbados, more familiar to their ears.

The Caribs, who lived on the island, resented the unceremonious intrusion, forgetting by then that they themselves had once been uninvited and driven the rightful owners off the island. Well, who remembers little things… And the Spaniards set about the Spanishization of the island with all their zeal – the Caribs were made slaves to send to the sugar cane plantations and rum factories. The Caribs retaliated against the Spaniards; the Spaniards punished the Caribs in retaliation by depriving them of the most precious thing of all – life itself. The ceaseless wars left no Caribs or Spaniards on the island – some died out, others fled in shame, relinquishing their claim to the island. And Barbados became uninhabited for many, many years…

And then British sailors appear on the scene. Wild and deserted island they liked, the climate has caused a great delight, sugar cane bushes spurred commercial savvy and … In short, the island of Barbados was henceforth declared the property of the British Crown, with all the consequences that flowed from it. For three and a half centuries, England had everything she wanted from the island, and only in the middle of last century Barbados gained independence.

True, Elizabeth is still considered the head of state today, but the island wants to get rid of that as well. In time. They just don’t like and don’t know how to rush here…

– Who was lucky enough to live in Barbados.

The settlers from Scotland and Ireland weren’t going to work on the plantations themselves, that’s clear to everyone. But someone had to plant and collect cane, make strong rum from it, keep the planters’ houses clean, raise their children, cook food and make life for the white lords clean and comfortable. Africa had more than once bailed out the rich and lazy, and it bailed them out this time. And so, from the African shores came ships with holds full of black gold or, simply, live goods. Some died of unaccustomed diseases, some from drudgery, some from beatings or as a result of one of the many rebellions. All this led to the fact that today Barbados is inhabited by the descendants of African slaves, who call themselves the Bajans. The Bajans themselves divide themselves into the descendants of Africans, Europeans, Arabs and even Americans, but to understand this complex hierarchy, one must have lived many years in Barbados. Personally I have nothing against long life on the island and I am ready to start scientific research of different layers of Barbadian society even now…

By the way, people of Barbados do not like natives of the United States, stubbornly calling them “Yankees”. I don’t know why, but it was embarrassing to ask.

They don’t like the British much either, but the traditions introduced on the island by Englishmen have so caught on that they have become an integral part of life of Barbadians, and gave them every reason to call their island “Little England”.

As for the safety of tourists, Barbados is considered to be an island with low crime rate, where tourists are almost nothing threatened. The caveat about “almost” is not accidental, they say that even on a happy Barbados anything can happen. But that doesn’t make the island any less attractive in my eyes!

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The standard of living on the island is high, so, by definition, prices cannot be low. Residents of neighboring islands are happy to go to Barbados as guest workers to save up a loyal penny and bring it back to their families. To live at a very average level, the average Barbadian family must earn $300 a week (count for yourself, is your salary suitable for living in Barbados…). No one expects grace from nature, I mean the government, and I’ve never seen such long lines, literally going to infinity, of cabs ready to carry tourists who have just stepped off the cruise ship, on any other island.

However, the savvy Barbadians have found a way to avoid unnecessary spending, deciding that taxes are that unnecessary spending. As I traveled around the island, I noticed that some houses are bright and ornate, while others are a sad gray color, as if they simply forgot to be painted.


The Anthem of Barbados

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 Native American nomads. Three waves of immigration passed through the island and then headed toward North America. The first wave included members of the Saladoid-Barrancoid group, indigenous Venezuelans who came to the island in canoes from the Orinoco River Valley around 350 AD. 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 few centuries, the Caribs, like the Arawak and Saladoid Barrancoid tribes before them, lived isolated on the island.

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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 in 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.

In those days a large number of contracted Celts, mostly from Ireland and Scotland, migrated to the island. Over the next few 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 replaced overwhelmingly 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 prime minister of the country.

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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 island’s climate is mild subtropical, with the rainy season lasting from June through October.

Although some suggest that the island is in the seasonal tropical storm and hurricane zone, this is actually not entirely 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%.

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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.

The island’s business ties and investment flows have increased markedly since the 2003 agreement with Canada for a $25 million Canadian investment. 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.

English is the official language in Barbados. The local dialect is called Bajan. Sixty-seven percent of residents identify themselves as Protestant believers under the Anglican Church, with Roman Catholics, Hindus and Muslim minorities also represented.

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 by “minibuses” companies that 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.

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