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20 Fascinating Facts About Barbados

20 Fascinating Facts About Barbados


1. Barbados is an island nation located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea of North America.

2. Little of Barbados’s prehistory is known, but archaeological evidence suggests it may have been settled as early as 1600 BC by people from South America who later vanished from the archaeological record.

3. From around 500 to 1500 CE, Arawak and Carib Indians likely lived in Barbados, which they called Ichirouganaim.

4. The name Barbados derives from Portuguese and means “the bearded ones”. This either refers to the long, hanging roots of the island’s fig trees or to the alleged beards of the native Carib inhabitants.

5. Barbados was depopulated because of repeated slave raids by the Spanish during the 16th century. It is thought that any Indians who evaded enslavement likely migrated elsewhere in the region. 

6. Barbados was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627.

7. British settlers then developed Barbados as a major sugar plantation economy employing slaves transported from Africa. Slavery was finally abolished in 1834 following a revolt in 1816.

8. Barbados was a huge sugar producer as the plantations flourished. Landowners imported huge numbers of African slaves. It is estimated that around 500,000 slaves worked in Barbados and the wider Caribbean. Even after the abolition of slavery, emancipated slaves had little choice but to continue working on the plantations for meagre wages.

9. In 1966, Barbados gained complete independence.

10. Singer Rihanna is from Barbados. The artist, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is an ambassador for the country and has even had a street named in her honor: Rihanna Drive.

11. Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison are Barbados’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the country’s capital, the site is identified as “an outstanding example of British colonial architecture consisting of a well-preserved old town built in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries”.

Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison Barbados

12. Today, Barbados is a major tourist destination receiving over 664,000 tourists every year.

13. In 2020, Barbados announced it would become a republic by November 2021, ending the tenure of British Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

14. One of the surviving Concorde planes is located in Barbados. Of the 20 supersonic airliners built, 18 are still in existence with one parked in Barbados. There used to be a weekly Concorde flight to Barbados from London.

Concorde planes Barbados

15. People from Barbados are officially known as Barbadian(s) but are also commonly referred to as Bajan.

16. Barbados is home to the world’s oldest rum, Mount Gay, established in 1703 by English businessman Sir John Gay.

17. Rum is an integral part of Bajan culture and history. As such, there are believed to be over 1,500 rum bars located on the island.

18. Cricket is the country’s national sport with Barbados producing some of the West Indies and the world’s most celebrated cricketers. Stars include Garry Sobers, Gordon Greenidge, Malcolm Marshall, and West Indies captain Jason Holder.

Jason Holder

19. In 2018, Barbados elected its first female prime minister, Mia Mottley.

20. Every few years, Barbados has been deluged by waves of sargassum – a type of seaweed – that washes up on its eastern shores. The island has been hit by severe volumes in 2011, 2015, and 2018. The smelly algae attract insects, discourages tourism, prevents fishing, and entangles sea turtles and dolphins.

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