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National Symbols

National Flag National Flower

Pride of Barbados

Coat of Arms National Dish

Geography of Barbados

Barbados, located 13 degrees N and 59 degrees West is an island country in the

southeastern Caribbean Sea, situated about 100 miles (160 km) east of Saint Vincent

and the Grenadines. Roughly triangular in shape, the island measures some 20 miles

(32 km) from northwest to southeast and about 15 miles (25 km) from east to west at its

widest point. The capital and largest town is Bridgetown, which is also the main seaport.

History of Barbados

The first indigenous people were Amerindians who arrived here from Venezuela.

Paddling long dugout canoes they crossed oceans and currents that challenge modern

sailing vessels. They made their new home in Barbados along the coast, leaving behind

hardly a trace. In 1200, the Arawaks were conquered by the Caribs. The Caribs were a

taller and stronger Amerindian tribe than the Arawaks. The Portugese came to Barbados
en route to Brazil. It was at this time that the island was named Los Barbados (bearded-

ones) by the Portugese explorer Pedro a Campos.

The first English ship touched the island on May 14th 1625 under the command of

Captain John Powell. The island was therefore claimed on behalf of King James I.

On February 17th 1627, Captain Henry Powell landed with a party of 80 settlers and 10

slaves to occupy and settle the island. The colonists established a House of Assembly in

1639. It was the 3rd ever Parliamentary Democracy in the world. People with good

financial backgrounds and social connections with England were allocated land. During

the 1630s, sugar cane was introduced to the agriculture. The production of sugar,

tobacco and cotton was heavily reliant on the indenture of servants. White civilians who

wanted to emigrate overseas could do so by signing an agreement to serve a planter in

Barbados for a period of 5 or 7 years. To meet the labour demands, servants were also

derived from kidnapping, and convicted criminals were shipped to Barbados.

Descendants of the white slaves and indentured labour (referred to as Red Legs) still live

in Barbados, they live amongst the black population in St. Martin's River and other east

coast regions. At one time they lived in caves in this region. A potential market formed

for slaves and sugar-making machinery by the Dutch Merchants who were to supply

Barbados with their requirements of forced labour from West Africa. The slaves came

from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon. Slavery,

abolished in 1834, was followed by a 4-year apprenticeship period during which free
men continued to work a 45-hour week without pay in exchange for living in the tiny

huts provided by the plantation owners. Freedom from slavery was celebrated in 1838

at the end of the apprenticeship period with over 70,000 Barbadians of African descent

taking to the streets with the Barbados folk song:

"Lick an Lock-up Done Wid, Hurray fuh Jin-Jin (Queen Victoria).

De Queen come from England to set we free

Now Lick an Lock-up Done Wid, Hurray fuh Jin-Jin "

Barbados was first occupied by the British in 1627 and remained a British colony until

internal autonomy was granted in 1961. The Island gained full independence in 1966,

and maintains ties to the Britain monarch represented in Barbados by the Governor


Official language of Barbados



An English-based creole language, referred to locally as Bajan, is spoken by most

Barbadians in everyday life, especially in informal settings. In its full-fledged form, Bajan

sounds markedly different from the Standard English heard on the island. The degree of

intelligibility between Bajan and general English, for the general English speaker,

depends on the level of creolised vocabulary and idioms. A Bajan speaker may be
completely unintelligible to an English speaker from another country. The official

language of Barbados is English. Bajan uses both West African and English terms and


Language Situation

If youre not already a well-versed Bajan, youll soon realize that the Bajan dialect is

completely limitless. Individual words usually have multiple meanings and words are

commonly shortened versions of their original form.

For example ting refers to thing, and dis means this as well as to disrespect or to

fail to acknowledge someone or something.

Because word endings tend to be cut short, multiple words often flow into one long

word. For example happen rather than happened and wha rather than what, leads

to the phrase whahappen? as opposed to what happened?

Another point to note is that in Bajan dialect, the sound created by th is pronounced

with a d sound. For example, that is pronounced dat, this pronounced dis, the

spoken as de, and so on.

Bajans also seldom use the word very. Instead, the word that very would be referring

to is simply just repeated. For example, instead of saying that girl is very pretty, in

Bajan, one would say dat girl pretty, pretty, pretty.

Bajan dialect is a unique language of Barbados. Its origin dates back to the times when

slaves were brought to Barbados and forced to speak English. This language then
became a way of communication among enslaved Africans, much to the disadvantage of

their slave masters who had difficulty understanding what was being communicated.

Bajan dialect is one of the most prevalent attributes that connect the people of

Barbados to their African and English heritage. The word Bajan is a derivative of the

word Barbadian. However due to stronger accents which once prevailed, the word

sounded more like Barbajan and eventually was shortened to Bajan.

Barbados has around 1,000 people who use English as their main language and 286,000

people who use Bajan as their main language. Bajan Creole contains many loanwords,

most of which are African in origin e.g. Cou-cou Part of the local national dish, but

comes from "Fou Fou" in Africa.. The largest portion contributed to Bajan is from the

Igbo language.