Barbados has been claimed through its history by the Arawaks, then Caribs, followed by the Portuguese, Spanish, and then English. The first English ship touched the island on May 14th 1625, and it was claimed on behalf of King James I; two years later, the British settlers began to arrive. After long years of sugar and slavery, abolition came in 1834, though followed by a four year ‘apprenticeship’ period, when little changed. And then in 1966, on November 30th, came independence from Britain, with the first leader of the country being the Right Honourable Errol Walton Barrow of the Democratic Labour Party. Barbados is a member of the Comonwealth, and maintains Queen Elizabeth as its head of state, represented by the Governor General.
These days, Barbados enjoys a wealth of visitors from all over the world, who come to enjoy its natural beauty and temperate climes. The national dish is cou cou, made from cornmeal and okra, served with fried or steamed flying fish. Barbados’ Carnival, called Crop Over, begins every year in July, culminating on Kadooment Day at the beginning of August. The country is famous for its widely exported Mount Gay Rum, and boasts over 1,000 rum shops.
Barbadians, or Bajans as they are commonly known, around the world mark their independence on November 30th with celebrations and thanks.