51 Fascinating Facts about Barbados

Barbados is a tiny island in the Caribbean roughly the size of the Isle of White. It’s delightful climate, turquoise seas and beautiful beaches make it a permanent draw for holiday makers and cruise ships. Low corporation tax for offshore companies that are based there also draw many business people setting up offshore companies. Corporation tax rates for off-shore Companies is between 1% and 2.5%. To the intense annoyance of the Barbados Government, this low rate earned it a place in 2017 on the EU’s blacklist of 17 countries. How has such a small island gained so much attention in the world? Here are some facts about Barbados that may surprise you.

Barbados Facts

The original inhabitants of Barbados were American Indians. For centuries a peaceful tribe called Arawaks lived there.
In the 13th century they were invaded by Caribs a warrior tribe that took over.
In the 15th century Portuguese explorers arrived but did not colonise.
Towards the end of the 15th Century, the Spanish conquered the island but later abandoned it in favour of larger, more interesting Caribbean islands.
On the 4th May 1625, Englishman, Captain John Powell landed on what was now a deserted island as a result of sailing off course from Brazil to England.
John Powell claimed the island for England.
In 1627 John Powell’s brother, Captain Henry Powell, brought 80 settlers and an additional 10 Irish and English workers who had been kidnapped.
In the 1640s Sugar Cane production became big business in Barbados.
In the latter part of the 17th century many slaves were brought from West Africa.
In 1807 Britain abolished the slave trade throughout its empire, but slavery continued till the slaves rebelled.
Bussa, a slave from Africa, was the first to lead a revolt in 1816.
Slaves were not set free till 1834.
After 300 years as a British colony, Barbados gained independence on the 30th November 1967.
The Queen is still the official head of Barbados as it remains a part of the Commonwealth.
The official language of Barbados is English.
Barbados has a special dialect of English called Bajan.
In the days of slavery, the English gentry found it difficult to understand Bajan and it became a way for the slaves to communicate amongst themselves without being understood by their masters.
In Bajan the word “very” is not used. One simply repeats the adjective. A “very tasty dish” is called a “tasty, tasty dish” or for more emphasis a “tasty, tasty, tasty dish”.
Colloquially, Barbadians call their country “Bim” or “Bimshire”.
Barbados established a House of Assembly in 1639, making it one of the earliest countries of our times to have a parliament.
A major hurricane hits Barbados roughly every 26 years.
In 1780 over 4000 Barbadians were killed by a hurricane.
In 1854 over 20,000 people died from an epidemic of cholera.
The first English settlers came over as tenants of London Merchant, William Courten who had been given Barbados as a “Proprietary Colony” by the English King.
At the time of Cromwell many criminals and rebels were sent to Barbados. Timothy Meads from Warwickshire was one such rebel.
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados. It used to be known as “The Town of St Michael”. The town is named after the Careenage Bridge pictured – originally known as “Indian Bridge”.
Bridgetown has a population of approximately 110,000 people.
Cruise ships arriving at Barbados, dock at Bridgetown Port because of its deep water harbour.
The deep water harbour was completed in 1961 at a cost of 28 million EC dollars.
700,000 cruise ship passengers and 900,000 tons of cargo in containers pass through the port every year.
Main exports of Barbados are sugar, rum, cotton, chemicals, light manufactured goods and electrical components.
As of 2009, the top two export destinations were Trinidad and Tobago – 17.48% and Jamaica 15.63%. Only 5.36% went to the United Kingdom.
The currency of Barbados is the EC$ (Eastern Caribbean dollar).
The EC$ is pegged to the US$.
The population of Barbados was just under 285,000 as of 2016.
Barbados has over 3000 hours of sunshine in the year. It has high daytime temperatures of averaging 30C most of the year round.
Barbados is a popular country for weddings.
There is no minimum waiting period for getting married in Barbados, nor is there a minimum required length of time on the island.
Coucou and flying fish is the national dish of Barbados. Coucou is a cornmeal product made with ocra.
Flying fish don’t actually fly but propel themselves very quickly with their fins.
Pudding and Souse is a popular Barbadian dish. It is made from pickled pork with spicy sweet potatoes.
Bajan, or Barbadian cuisine, has English, Asian, African, Creole, and Irish influences. It uses a lot of sauces, marinades and spices.
Mauby is one of the local drinks to be found in Barbados. It is made from sugar and the barks of certain trees.
Barbados is well known for its Rum Punch.
Barbados is home to a lot of Green Monkeys, a species of monkey that originates from Senegal and neighbouring countries. It came to Barbados on slave ships.
Although Barbados is 3000 miles away from West Africa, it often experiences high amounts of dust coming from the Sahara.
Four species of nesting turtles breed in Barbados – leatherbacks, loggerheads, hawksbill turtles and green turtles.
56 miles of coral reefs grace the coastline of Barbados.
Barbados covers an area of 166.4 square miles.
“Redlegs” is the name given to poor white Barbadians who descend from Irish prisoners and slaves who were formerly imported into Barbados to work the sugar plantations.
Barbados derives its name from Portuguese and Spanish for “The Bearded Ones” (“Os Barbados” in Portuguese and “Los Barbados in Spanish”). The reference is possibly to the hanging roots of the indigenous bearded fig trees.

Out of a history of slavery and exploitation, Barbados has emerged with a colourful culture of diverse ethnic background. Its climate and geographical features are quite heavenly and, not surprisingly, it attracts many tourists who now provide work for 10% of the country’s workforce.


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