You are on page 1of 2

Barbados Culture and History Barbados is thought to have been originally inhabited by Arawak Indians.

By the time Europeans explored the island, however, it was uninhabited. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot on the island, but it was the British who first established a colony there in 1627. Colonists first cultivated tobacco and cotton, but by the 1640s they had switched to sugar, which was enormously profitable. Slaves were brought in from Africa to work sugar plantations, and eventually the population was about 90% black. A slave revolt took place in 1816; slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834. Barbados was the administrative headquarters of the Windward Islands until it became a separate colony in 1885. Barbados was a member of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 to 1962. Britain granted the colony independence on Nov. 30, 1966, and it became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Since independence, Barbados has been politically stable. In May 2003, Prime Minister Arthur won a third term. In parliamentary elections in January 2008, the Democratic Labor Party won 20 out of 30 seats. Former junior finance minister David Thompson took over as prime minister. ( Basic Economy The economy is fueled by the skills of a diverse population that is one of the worlds most educated, with a literacy rate close to 100 percent. The currency is the Barbados dollar, which is linked to the United States dollar. Excellent public and private bus and taxi services take advantage of nearly 1,205 miles (1,650 kilometers) of roads and make it possible to move relatively cheaply around the island. The year 1960 brought a structural change in the economy marked by a decline in sugar production and the growth of industrial manufacturing and tourism. Barbados served as a tourist destination as early as the 1600s. Small numbers of tourists come from South America and other islands in the Caribbean. A significant stream comes from northwestern Europe, primarily the United Kingdom. Most tourists, however, come from the United States and Canada. In an island long known in the Caribbean as "Little England," many Barbadians now claim that its increasingly important ties to the United States have transformed the nation into "Little America." Major Industries. Light manufacturing firms produce structural components for construction, industrial gases, paper products, electronics components, and solar energy units. Barbados also refines petroleum products. Trade. Although production declined precipitously in the last half of the twentieth century, sugar remains the major export product. Most manufactured goods are used domestically, but a small quantity is traded to other nations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Barbados carries on a small trade with North America, principally in electronic components, garments, medical supplies, and rum. Leadership and Political Officials. The Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party compete for seats in the House of Assembly; members of the Senate are appointed by the

governor-general. The leader of the majority party in the assembly serves as the prime minister. A Cabinet appointed from among the majority party members of the assembly helps the prime minister carry out the executive functions of government. The Barbados legal system is founded in British common law. The Supreme Court of Judicature sits as a high court and court of appeal; vested by the constitution with unlimited jurisdiction, it consists of a chief justice and three puisne judges, appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition party. Magistrate courts have both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Final appeals are brought to the Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council in the United Kingdom. (