Caribbean Affairs in the USA

Barbados

 

People, History, and Culture of Barbados

 

Barbados

Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and up to 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 square kilometres (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 kilometres (104 mi) east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 kilometres (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Barbados was discovered by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.

In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. It has a population of 277,821 people, mostly of African descent.Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean, where it's ranked as a leading tourist destination and one of the region's most developed islands, with a high HDI number of 0.825. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (after Canada) and 16th globally on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

Etymology

The origin of the name Barbados is either the Portuguese word Barbados or the Spanish equivalent los Barbados, both meaning "the bearded ones" It is unclear whether "bearded" refers to the long, hanging roots of the bearded fig-tree (Ficus citrifolia), indigenous to the island; or to the allegedly bearded Caribs once inhabiting the island; or, more fancifully, to the foam spraying over the outlying reefs giving the impression of a beard. In 1519, a map produced by the Genoese mapmaker Visconte Maggiolo showed and named Barbados in its correct position. Furthermore, an island in the Leewards that is very close in name is Barbuda and was once named Las Barbudas by the Spanish.

The uncertainty lies in which European nation arrived first in Barbados. According to some sources it was the Spanish during the early Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Others believe the Portuguese, en route to Brazil, were the first Europeans to come upon the island.

The original name for Barbados in the Pre-Columbian era was Ichirouganaim according to accounts by descendants of the indigenous Arawakan-speaking tribes in other regional areas, with possible translations including "Red land with white teeth", "Redstone island with teeth outside (reefs)", or simply "Teeth".

Other names or nicknames associated with Barbados include "Bim" and "Bimshire". The origin is uncertain but several theories exist. The National Cultural Foundation of Barbados says that "Bim" was a word commonly used by slaves and that it derives from the phrase "bi mu" or either ("bem", "Ndi bem", "Nwanyi ibem" or "Nwoke ibem") from an Igbo phrase meaning "my people" or "my place". In colloquial or literary contexts, "Bim" can also take a more deific tone, referring to the "goddess" Barbados.

The words Bim and Bimshire are recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary and Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionaries. Another possible source for "Bim" is reported to be in the Agricultural Reporter of 25 April 1868, The Rev. N. Greenidge (father of one of the island's most famous scholars, Abel Hendy Jones Greenidge) suggested the listing of Bimshire as a county of England. Expressly named were "Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Bimshire". Lastly in the Daily Argosy (of Demerara, i.e. Guyana) of 1652 it referred to Bim as a possible corruption of the word "Byam", who was a Royalist leader against the Parliamentarians. That source suggested the followers of Byam became known as Bims and became a word for all Barbadians.

History

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The Barbadoes mulatto girl

Amerindian settlement of Barbados dates to about the 4th to 7th centuries AD, by a group known as the Saladoid-Barrancoid. In the 13th century, the Kalinago arrived from South America.

The Spanish and Portuguese briefly claimed Barbados from the late 16th to the 17th centuries.The Arawaks are believed to have fled to neighbouring islands. Apart from possibly displacing the Caribs, the Spanish and Portuguese left little impact and left the island uninhabited. Some Arawaks migrated from British Guiana (modern day Guyana) in the 1800s and continue to live in Barbados.

From the arrival of the first English settlers in 1627–1628 until independence in 1966, Barbados was under uninterrupted English and later British governance and was the only Caribbean island that did not change hands during the colonial period. In the very early years, the majority of the population was white and male, with African slaves providing little of the workforce. Cultivation of tobacco, cotton, ginger and indigo was handled primarily by European indentured labour until the start of the sugar cane industry in the 1640s. As Barbados' economy grew, Barbados developed a large measure of local autonomy through its founding as a proprietary colony. Its House of Assembly began meeting in 1639. Among the island's earliest leading figures was the Anglo-Dutch Sir William Courten.

The 1780 hurricane killed over 4,000 people on Barbados. In 1854, a cholera epidemic killed over 20,000 inhabitants. At emancipation in 1833, the size of the slave population was approximately 83,000. Between 1946 and 1980, Barbados' rate of population growth was diminished by one-third because of emigration to Britain.

Government and politics

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Parliament Building

Barbados has been an independent country since 30 November 1966. It functions as a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modelled on the British Westminster system, with Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados, as head of state, represented locally by the Governor-General, Elliott Belgrave, and the Prime Minister as head of the government. The number of representatives within the House of Assembly has gradually increased from 24 at independence to its present total of 30 seats.

During the 1990s, at the suggestion of Trinidad and Tobago's Patrick Manning, Barbados attempted a political union with Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. The project stalled after the then Prime Minister of Barbados, Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, became ill and his Democratic Labour Party lost the next general election. However, Barbados continues to share close ties with Trinidad and Tobago and with Guyana, claiming the highest number of Guyanese immigrants after the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Barbados functions as a two-party system, the two dominant parties being the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Until 2003, each party had served two terms in office alternately. The general election of 2003 victory for the Barbados Labour Party gave it a third term in office, as a result of which it achieved a total of fourteen continuous years in government, from 1994 until the 2008 elections. Under that administration, the former Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Owen S. Arthur, acted as the Regional Leader of the Caribbean Single Market (CSM).

The Honourable David Thompson, who was elected Prime Minister of Barbados in 2008, died of pancreatic cancer on 23 October 2010 and was succeeded by his Deputy Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, was sworn in as head of government the same day.

A general election held on 21 February 2013 returned the DLP to power with a 16 to 14 majority and the Honourable Freundel Stuart was re-elected as Prime Minister.

Barbados has had several third parties since independence: The People's Pressure Movement, formed in the early 1970s, which contested the 1976 elections; The National Democratic Party, which contested the 1994 elections; and the People's Democratic Congress, which

Foreign Relations

Barbados is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Organization of American States (OAS), Commonwealth of Nations, and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which currently pertains only to Barbados, Belize and Guyana. In 2001 the Caribbean Community heads of government voted on a measure declaring that the region should work towards replacing the UK's Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Barbados is an original Member (1995) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and participates actively in its work. It grants at least MFN treatment to all its trading partners. As of December 2007, Barbados is linked by an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Commission. The pact involves the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) subgroup of the Group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific states (ACP). CARIFORUM presently the only part of the wider ACP-bloc that has concluded the full regional trade-pact with the European Union.

Trade policy has also sought to protect a small number of domestic activities, mostly food production, from foreign competition, while recognising that most domestic needs are best met by imports.

In 2013, CARICOM called for European nations to pay reparations for slavery and established an official reparations commission.

Geography and climate

Bathsheba on the east coast of the island

Barbados is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles. It is flat in comparison to its island neighbours to the west, the Windward Islands. The island rises gently to the central highland region, with the highpoint of the nation being Mount Hillaby, in the geological Scotland District, 340 metres (1,120 ft) above sea level. The island is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the other West Indies Islands.
In the parish of Saint Michael lies Barbados' capital and main city, Bridgetown. Other major towns scattered across the island include Holetown, in the parish of Saint James; Oistins, in the parish of Christ Church; and Speightstown, in the parish of Saint Peter.

 

Geology


Barbados lies on the boundary of the South American and the Caribbean Plates. The shift of the South American plate beneath the Caribbean plate scrapes sediment from the South American plate and deposits it above the subduction zone forming an accretionary prism. The rate of this depositing of material allows Barbados to rise at a rate of about 25 millimetres (0.98 in) per 1,000 years. This subduction means geologically the island is composed of coral roughly (90 m or 300 ft thick), where reefs formed above the sediment. The land slopes in a series of "terraces" in the west and goes into an incline in the east. A large proportion of the island is circled by coral reefs.
The erosion of limestone rock in the North East of the island, in the Scotland District, has resulted in the formation of various caves and gullys, some of which have become popular tourist attractions such as Harrison's Cave and Welchman Hall Gully. On the Atlantic East coast of the island coastal landforms, including stacks, have been created due to the limestone composition of the area.
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The country generally experiences two seasons, one of which includes noticeably higher rainfall. Known as the "wet season", this period runs from June to November. By contrast, the "dry season" runs from December to May. The annual precipitation ranges between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 90 inches (2,300 mm). From December to May the average temperatures range from 21 to 31 °C (70 to 88 °F), while between June and November, they range from 23 to 31 °C (73 to 88 °F).
On the Köppen climate classification scale, much of Barbados is regarded as a Tropical monsoon climate (Am). However, gentle breezes of 12–16 kilometres per hour (8–10 mph) abound throughout the year and give Barbados a civilised climate which is moderately tropical.
Infrequent natural hazards include earthquakes, landslips, and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the worst effects of the region's tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season. The far eastern location in the Atlantic Ocean puts the country just outside the principal hurricane strike zone. On average, a major hurricane strikes about once every 26 years. The last significant hit from a hurricane to cause severe damage to Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955, and more recently in 2010 the island was struck by Hurricane Tomas, but this caused only minor damage across the country.

 

 

 
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