Barbados History and Politics

By | November 9, 2021

Barbados. Located just east of the Caribbean Sea, it is a continental island in the West Indies. Located approximately 13º North of the equator and 59º West of the Greenwich Meridian, it is considered a part of the Lesser Antilles. Its closest neighbors on the island are Martinique, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the west. To the south is Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, with which an official fixed maritime boundary now shares, and also the mainland of South America. The total area of Barbados is approximately 430 square kilometers (166 square miles), and it is mostly low, with some in the interior of the country. The highest point in Barbados is Mount Hillaby in the parish of St. Andrew.


According to localcollegeexplorer, the first residents of Barbados were nomadic Taiwanese. Three waves of immigrants moved north on their way to North America. The first wave was made up of a group of farmers, fishermen, and potters who arrived by canoe from the Orinoco Valley, in Venezuela, around 350. The Arawak people were the second group to migrate from South America in 800. The settlements Arawak on the island are Stroud Point, Chandler Bay, Saint Luke’s Valley, and Mapp’s Cave. According to accounts told by descendants of the Arawak aboriginal tribes on other islands in the area, Barbados’ original name was Ichirouganaim. In the thirteenth century, the Caribs arrived from South America in a third wave of immigrants displacing the two previous peoples of the island and living isolated in it as the two previous peoples had done.

The name of Barbados comes from the Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos who in 1536 called it Os Barbados (“Los Barbudos”, in Spanish). The name of the island comes from the appearance of the fig trees that are on it, which have long hanging aerial roots, which reminded him of beards. Since Campos’ observations in 1536 and 1550, the Spanish conquerors captured many Caribs and used them as plantation slaves. Other Caribs fled the island with different destinations.

English sailors who arrived in Barbados in the 1620s, landing at present – day Holetown, found the island uninhabited. From the arrival of the first British settlers between 1627 and 1628 until its independence in 1966, Barbados was continuously under British control. However, the island always enjoyed great local autonomy: its assembly began to function in 1639. Among the first illustrious figures of the same it is worth highlighting Sir William Courten.

As soon as the sugar industry developed in Barbados, the island was divided into large plantations that replaced the small estates of the early British settlers. Some of the farmers displaced by the regrouping of lands founded new English colonies in North America, especially in South Carolina. To work the plantations, slaves from West Africa were transported by boat to Barbados and other Caribbean islands. The slave trade ceased in 1804. In 1834 slavery was abolished in the British Empire, although in Barbados and the rest of the colonies of the British West Indies, there was a moratorium of another six years.

Local politicians were dominated by landowners and merchants of British descent. It was not until the 1930s that a movement for political rights began to take hold among the descendants of emancipated slaves. One of the leaders of this movement, Sir Grantley Adams, founded the Barbados Labor Party in 1938.

Further progress towards a more democratic government of Barbados took place in 1951 when universal suffrage was introduced on the island. This was followed by political advances aimed at achieving self-government, in 1961 the island achieved internal autonomy.

From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was one of ten members of the Federation of the West Indies, and Sir Grantley Adams was its first and only Prime Minister. When the Federation was dissolved, it returned to its status as a self-governing colony. This situation was followed by several attempts to form another federation between Barbados and the Windward and Leeward Islands that did not culminate, so Barbados negotiated its own independence from the United Kingdom at a constitutional conference in June 1966, achieving its independence as a member state. of the Commonwealth on November 30, 1966.

Government and politics

Elizabeth II is recognized as the Queen of Barbados, and its Head of State, being represented by a Governor General. In Barbados the title carried by the Queen is: “By the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and its other Kingdoms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.” The current government proposes that Barbados be constituted as a republic within the Commonwealth with an honorary president replacing the Queen.

Executive power rests with the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The Prime Minister is normally the leader of the party that wins the elections for the Assembly, which is the Lower House of Parliament and has 28 seats that are renewed every five years. The Senate has 21 members elected by the Governor General.

Barbados is a full member in the Caribbean Community or CARICOM.

Human rights

Regarding human rights, regarding membership in the seven bodies of the International Bill of Human Rights, which include the Human Rights Committee (HRC).


Political-administrative organization

Barbados is administratively divided into eleven Parishes named after the Anglican religion of the English settlers. In addition, the nation’s capital, Bridgetown, which is located within the parish of Saint Michael, may be able to form its own parish in the future.

  1. Christ Church Parish.
  2. Saint Andrew Parish.
  3. Saint James Parish.
  4. Saint George Parish.
  5. Saint John Parish.
  6. Saint Joseph Parish.
  7. Saint Lucy Parish.
  8. Saint Michael Parish.
  9. Saint Peter Parish.
  10. Saint Philip Parish.
  11. Saint Thomas Parish.

Barbados History and Politics