Barbados: History, Culture & Economy

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Barbados (pronounced /bɑːˈbeɪdɒs, bɑrˈbeɪdoʊs/) is an island nation of the Lesser Antilles, 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and as much as 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, amounting to 431 square kilometres (166 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic Ocean 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 Venezuela. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Once a Portuguese territorial possession known as os Barbados, in 1625 it became English, and later a British colony. The island has an estimated population of 275,338 people, with around 80,000 living in or around Bridgetown, the largest city and the country’s capital. In 1966, Barbados became an independent nation and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s leading tourist destinations and is the most developed island in the region, with an HDI number of 0.903. Barbados is the third most developed country in the western hemisphere (the first and second being Canada and the U.S.).

The influence of the English on Barbados is more noticeable than on other islands in the West Indies. A good example of this is the island’s national sport: cricket. Barbados has brought forth several great cricketers, including Garfield Sobers and Frank Worrell.

Citizens are officially called Barbadians; Bajans (pronounced: “bay” “jan” ), The term “Bajan” may have come from a localised pronunciation of the word Barbadian which at times can sound more like “Bar-bajan”.

The largest carnival-like cultural event which takes place on the island is the Crop Over festival. As in many other Caribbean and Latin American countries,Crop Over is an important event for many people on the island, as well as the thousands of tourists that flock to the island to participate in the annual events. The festival includes musical competitions and other traditional activities. The male and female Barbadian that harvested the most sugarcane are also crowned as the King and Queen of the crop. It gets under way from the beginning of July, and ends with the costumed parade on Kadooment Day, held on the first Monday of August.

The porous soil and moderate warmth are excellent for the cultivation of sugarcane, which was historically the island’s main occupation. Today, sugar and molasses remain important products and are the country’s largest exports. The healthful and equable climate makes it a very popular tourist resort, and tourism is the country’s largest industry. Manufacturing (largely chemicals, electrical components, clothing, and rum) and banking are growing sectors of the economy. The United States, other Caribbean islands, and Great Britain are the main trading partners.

Notes from Wikipedia and

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