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Identification. Barbadians are people born on the island of Barbados and people born elsewhere who have at least one Barbadian parent who maintains cultural ties to this island nation. Barbadian communities in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Guyana maintain active ties with their kin and friends in the West Indies.

Location. Barbados, a coral limestone outcropping of the South American continental shelf, is located at 13° 10 N, 59° 33 W. Barbados thus lies in the western Atlantic Ocean, 150 kilometers east of the island of Saint Vincent and the geological fault line along which most of the Caribbean islands have emerged, and 275 kilometers north of Trinidad and the northern coast of South America. The island's shape resembles a leg of lamb 40 kilometers long. The north (shank) of the island exhibits a width of about 10 kilometers, the south a width of about 25 kilometers. In contrast with most West Indian islands of volcanic origin, which rise dramatically from the sea to elevations of more than 1,000 meters within a kilometer or so of the shore, Barbados has low, rolling hills that rise no higher than 300 meters, and, in the north and south portions of the island, extensive areas of relatively level ground. Nonetheless, like nearly all West Indian islands, Barbados exhibits significant microclimate variation. Rainfall averages more than 125 centimeters annually across the central portion of the island, but levels are higher on the windward (eastern) coast and the hilly interior, and lower on the leeward (western) coast. The northeast corner of the island, however, exhibits a semidesert biome. The southern portions of the island, characterized by little topographic variation, receive little rainfall, although more than the northeast corner. Barbados averages more than 3,000 hours of sunlight annually. Northeast trade winds blow year-round and significantly moderate a mean daytime temperature of around 27° C, which fluctuates little over the course of the year. Sugarcane and tourism have brought prosperity to Barbados, even in the face of occasional droughts, hurricanes, and world recessions.

Demography. More than 260,000 people now live on this small island of some 443 square kilometers. Only Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangladesh surpass Barbados's national population density of 586 persons per square kilometer. As early as 1680, the island was home to 70,000 people. Barbadians who couldn't find land on the island emigrated to other New World locations, including South Carolina, Antigua, and Jamaica. Whereas other island populations dwindled or grew slowly during the 1800s, Barbados sent more than 50,000 of its citizens elsewhere (especially to Guyana and Trinidad) and still experienced an extraordinary annual growth rate of about 1.2 percent between Emancipation in 1806 and the first years of the twentieth century.

Until 1960, high birth and death rates prevailed. The island's population consisted mostly of young people; Barbadians emigrated in large numbers to the United Kingdom and in smaller numbers to the United States and, later, to Canada. Barbados began demographic transition about 1960, reached replacement-level fertility in 1980, and fell to below-replacement levels quickly thereafter. Aided by continuing emigration of the young and a new stream of elderly immigrants, the population of Barbados aged rapidly in the succeeding decade. The population of elderly (aged 60 and over) grew 15 percent during the 1980s and comprised 15.3 percent of the total population by 1990. Barbadian projections suggest that, by the year 2050, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over will range between 25 and 33 percent of the total population.

Linguistic Affiliation. Barbadians speak a dialect of English with tonal qualities that reflect the West African heritage of the vast majority of its people, and an English-West African pidgin called Bajan. The number of native Bajan speakers has declined precipitously since 1950.

History and Cultural Relations

Barbados was colonized by the English early in the seventeenth century. The English found the island uninhabited when they landed in 1625, although archeological findings document prior habitation by both Carib and Arawak Native Americans. By 1650, Barbados was transformed by the plantation system and slavery into the first major monocropping sugar producer of the emerging British Empire, and its fortunes were tied to sugar and to England for the next 310 years. In 1651, Barbados won from England most of the freedoms the United States gained only by revolution 100 years later, and established what was to become the oldest continuing parliamentary democracy in the world outside England. This significant degree of autonomy encouraged Barbadian planters to remain on the island rather than, as was typical elsewhere in the English and French West Indies, to return to Europe when their fortunes improved. Barbados continues to be distinguished in the West Indies by an unusually high proportion of population with a largely European ancestry. When West Indian sugar plantations disappeared elsewhere over the course of the 1800s, Barbadian plantations remained competitive. The improvement in living standards that had marked the nineteenth century was brought to an end by the creation of a merchant-planter oligopoly in the early twentieth century. The Great Depression precipitated massive labor disturbances. Subsequent investigations of living conditions, particularly the Moyne Commission Report, established grounds for fundamental political change. The franchise, which until the late nineteenth century had been restricted to propertied, White males, was made universal in 1943. By the 1950s, the descendants of former African slaves controlled the Barbadian Assembly and set in motion a series of actions that fundamentally transformed the island. Barbados opted for full independence in 1966, but it remains a member of the British Commonwealth.


Bridgetown, founded early in the seventeenth century on the southern leeward (western) coast, is the island's capital and only city. Small towns exist at Holetown, 5 kilometers north of Bridgetown; Speightstown, 6 kilometers north of Holetown; and Oistens, 10 kilometers south of Bridgetown. Holetown, Speightstown, and Oistens, along with numerous other small communities along the leeward coast, now form one long megalopolis containing about 70 percent of the island's population. About 50 percent of the island's residents live in or south of Bridgetown. The southeastern region, formerly planted in cane, now has another 10 percent of the island's population and may be best described as a dispersed bedroom community for Bridgetown. The remaining 20 percent of the population lives amongst plantations and small farms in settlements that vary from dispersed homes to small, nucleated villages.


The Barbadian economy stems from a diverse population, which is one of the world's most highly educated, with a literacy rate very close to 100 percent. The currency is the Barbados dollar, which is linked to the U.S. dollar at a rate of BDS$2.00 to U.S.$1.00. Excellent public and private bus and taxi services take advantage of nearly 1,300 kilometers of roads and make it possible to move easily and quickly, and relatively cheaply, from any spot on the island to any other. Barbados supports one of the three campuses of the University of the West Indies (the others are in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago). The local campus (Cave Hill) offers degrees in the physical, biological, and social sciences, in the humanities, and in law and medicine. Barbados Community College was modeled along lines originally established by the California community-college system; it offers a wide variety of courses in technical fields and the liberal arts. Advanced education is also available through a teacher-training college, a polytechnic college, the Extra Mural Centre of the University of the West Indies (which has branch campuses on all eastern Caribbean islands), and a hotel school. A large number of private and public primary and secondary schools offer educational programs modeled on those in the United Kingdom.

The year 1960 initiated a structural change in the Barbadian economy marked by decline in sugar production and the growth of industrial manufacturing and tourism. By 1980, the sugar industry contributed only about 6 percent of domestic output and accounted for less than 10 percent of employment and 10 percent of foreign-exchange earnings. At the same time, manufacturing and tourism contributed respectively about 11 percent and 12 percent of domestic output and about 18 percent and 41 percent of foreign-exchange earnings. These proportions remained about the same a decade later. Sugar plantations were turned into manufacturing sites, subdivided for new housing sites or small agricultural plots, or converted to the production of vegetables for a growing domestic market for food. Manufactured goods include garments, furniture, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, phonograph records and tapes, processed wood, paints, structural components for construction, industrial gases, refined petroleum, paper products, and solar-energy units. Data processing and assembly of electronics components also figure in the ecconomic array. Barbados served as a tourist destination as early as the 1600s; it advertises that George Washington was one of its more illustrious early visitors. The growth of tourism on Barbados, however, as throughout the world, depended on the rise of cheap, global transportation and rising proportions of discretionary income. Small numbers of tourists come from South America and other islands in the Caribbean. A significant stream of tourists come from northwestern Europe, primarily the U.K. Most tourists, however, come from the United States and Canada, which send many flights to the island daily, and, during the height of the tourist season, cruise ships call almost daily. Long known in the Caribbean as "Little England," many Barbadians now claim that the island's increasingly important ties to the United States have transformed it into "Little America."


Barbadians trace descent and inheritance through both their father and their mother. They recognize no organized, corporate groups of kin. Barbadians use the Eskimo cousin terminology common to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Biological fathers and mothers are sharply distinguished from other adults who may serve various caregiving and economic-support functions for children.

Marriage and Family

A Barbadian household may consist of a single man or woman or of a mixed-gender group of as many as fifteen people. Barbadians idealize a household that consists of a married couple and their children, which characterizes about 45 percent of all households on the island. Around 35 percent of Barbadian households are organized around a mother and her children. These households occasionally encompass three generations of women; they may include brothers, uncles, sons, and the sexual partners of members of the core family unit.

Historically, in Barbados as elsewhere in the West Indies, sexual activity usually began at an early age. Women traded sex for economic support and children (called "visiting" or "keeper" relationships). Visiting unions gave way to common-law unions that, when a couple was older, a church ceremony might legitimate. Young people, however, were not the only ones who had visiting relationships. Historically, West Indian islands have been job-poor. Men left the islands in large numbers to look for work, which left significantly more women than men at nearly all ages. As a result, many women could not legally marry. Lower-class men might never marry. Moreover, no relationship implied men's sexual fidelity. Lower-class men commonly drifted from one temporary sexual partner to another. Married men in the middle and upper classes commonly engaged in a series of visiting relationships with "outside" women. Barbadian fathers, consequently, often were not husbands; even those who were frequently did not live with the mother and her children. When they did, they might contribute little to domestic life. Men often were not home. They spent time instead with girlfriends or other men, often in rum shops, which remain popular among older men. What they contributed, other than a house and money, all too often was violence directed at the mother and children.

Women, for their part, usually drilled into the children not only how much they sacrificed and how hard they had to work to raise them properly, but also that their labors were that much more arduous because they had no companion to help them. It was easy to explain family hardships. Men were irresponsible and abusive. Understandably, fathers could expect domestic help from their sons and daughters only incidentally, and the weak filial obligations that existed applied only to biological fathers. By contrast, childbearing was an investment activity for Barbadian women. In a woman's youth, children legitimated her claims on income from men, although establishing those claims required her subservience. As she moved toward middle age, daughters took over nearly all household chores, and sons provided financial support that could make her independent of spousal support and reduce or eliminate her subservience to an autocratic male. In her old age, financial and domestic support from children meant the difference between abject poverty and a moderate, or even comfortable, level of living. Indeed, these phases often transformed gender relations. Because men could expect support from their children only if they had maintained a relationship with their children's mother, the women dependent on men in their youth found men dependent on them by late middle age. Gender power relationships thus were contingent on historical conditions that made women dependent on men in their youth, and on their male children during and after middle age.

Since 1960, however, Barbadian kin relations have undergone a revolution that reflects global leveling processes that were set into motion by the Industrial Revolution in England 200 years ago. Growth in the world economy, spurred by the Industrial Revolution, was marked by increasing numbers of resource-access channels. Large numbers of resource-access channels imply high levels of competition. High levels of both international and regional competition offer selective advantages to technical skills and competencies and reduce power differentials both between nations and within societies. Gender and skin color have become less important determinants of social position.

Barbadian women experienced a conjunction of good job opportunities and increased educational levels that ushered in a revolution in the relations between generations and between genders. The West Indian marriage pattern of visiting, common-law, and legal unions persists, but empowered women enjoy more domestic help, emotional support, and affectionate behavior than women who are not empowered, and they experience little or no family violence. Women freed from dependency on childbearing have fewer children. Women freed from dependency on men have markedly better relationships with their partners. The incidence of family violence on Barbados fell dramatically in just one generation.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Prior to 1960, Barbadian society was characterized by a small merchant-planter elite of largely European ancestry; a slightly larger class of accountants, lawyers, medical personnel, journalists, and teachers of diverse ancestry; and a huge lower class of field laborers and domestic servants with a largely African ancestry. The elite remains about the same size but has grown much more diverse in heritage. The lower class has all but disappeared. In its place, there now exists a huge middle class that encompasses skilled blue-collar workers employed in manufacturing firms and hotels, and a wide range of white-collar, professional, and managerial occupational groups employed directly or, in the case of public employees, indirectly in the manufacturing and tourist sectors of the economy.

Political Organization. Barbados is organized as an independent parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth. For administrative purposes, the island is divided into the city of Bridgetown and eleven parishes: Saint Lucy, Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, Saint James, Saint Joseph, Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Philip, Saint George, Saint Michael, and Christ Church. The monarch of England is recognized as the head of state, and the highest court of appeals is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The monarch appoints a governor-general, selected from among nominees put forth by the majority and minority political parties. Two principal political parties, the Barbados Labour party and the Democratic Labour party, compete for seats in the House of Assembly; members of the Senate are appointed by the governor-general. The leader of the majority party in the Assembly serves as prime minister. A cabinet appointed from among majority-party members of the Assembly assists the prime minister in carrying out executive functions of government. The judiciary consists of a national police force and three tiers of courts. Magistrates oversee Lower Courts, which adjudicate minor cases and hear preliminary evidence for major ones. Judges who sit in the Assizes hear cases involving allegations of major crimes. Barbados's chief justice heads a group of three judges who hear cases in the Court of Appeals. The last court of appeals is the Privy Council in England.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. More than 80 percent of the population claims adherence to one or another Christian denomination or sect. More than half of these belong to the Church of England and attend appropriate parish churches; Methodists, Roman Catholics, and Seventh Day Adventists constitute most of the remainder. A small East Indian community includes some Hindus, and a small number of people of diverse backgrounds practice Islam. A growing, albeit still small, number of people embrace Rastafarianism. A small Jewish community with Sephardic roots attends services in a synagogue originally built in AD. 1640.

Medicine. Barbadians use two bodies of knowledge to prevent and treat illness. They rely heavily on a biomedical system organized on a Western model. The health-care system consists of physicians and other staff who practice in public, government-run hospitals, clinics, halfway houses, and long-term care facilities of various kinds, and physicians and other health-care workers who practice in a private system of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and private offices. Individual health-care providers frequently participate in both formal systems.

Barbadians also rely heavily on an indigenous ethnomedical system that makes use of "bush" teas and "home remedies." Around 70 percent of the population uses home remedies at rates that vary from daily to once or twice a year. Most of those who use this indigenous medicine regard it as an alternative to biomedical care; the remainder use indigenous medicine to supplement care available through the biomedical system.

When Barbadian economic development began in the 1950s, the island's health-care needs arose from high rates of acute infectious disease. Accordingly, the government of Barbados built an outstanding health-care delivery system directed at these problems. The medical school at the University of the West Indies is located at a 600-bed facility for acute care, Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Separate geriatric and psychiatric hospitals provide specialized care for the elderly and mentally ill. Smaller facilities are available for younger mentally and physically handicapped patients. Public clinics, located in nearly every parish, and private clinics, concentrated in the heavily populated parishes of Saint Michael and Christ Church, serve primary healthcare needs. The accomplishments of this system included a reduction in infant-mortality rates from more than 150 per 1,000 in the early 1950s to around 15 per 1,000 in the early 1990s, and control over other infectious diseases, rivaling the developed regions of Europe, North America, and Asia.

Today, however, large numbers of Barbadians suffer from arthritis, hypertension, adult-onset diabetes and its complications, cancer, and heart disease. Often, these diseases remain untreated even after diagnosis. Disabilities grow more common and more serious with aging; the vast majority of disabilities can be traced to arthritis and to diabetes and its complications. Significant proportions of disabled Barbadians experience unmet needs for physical aids that bear on the most fundamental human needsseeing, eating, and walking.

Barbadians tend to equate mental illness with being "crazy" and, therefore, deny they experience emotional disorders even in the presence of significant symptoms. Almost no one who displays symptoms of depression and anxiety seeks treatment. By creating intense emotional pain, family violence in particular leads to high-risk sexual behavior and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS. Although the incidence of family violence has declined, much interpersonal violence still is within families. Still more violence comes from outside the family. The island suffers from an increasing use of crack cocaine and its accompanying patterns of violence.


Brathwaite, Farley, ed. (1986). The Elderly in Barbados. Bridgetown: Carib Research and Publications.

Dann, Graham (1984). The Quality of Life in Barbados. London: Macmillan.

Greenfield, Sidney (1966). English Rustics in Black Skin. New Haven: College and Universities Press.

Handler, Jerome S. (1974). The Unappropriated People: Freedmen in the Slave Society of Barbados. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Handwerker, W. Penn (1989). Women's Power and Social Revolution. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Handwerker, W. Penn (1993). "Gender Power Differences between Parents and High-Risk Sexual Behavior by Their Children." Journal of Women's Health 2:301-306.

Karch, Cecilia A. (1979). The Transformation and Consolidation of the Corporate Plantation Economy in Barbados: 1860-1977. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.

Massiah, Joycelin (1984). Employed Women in Barbados. Institute of Social and Economie Research (Eastern Caribbean) Occasional Paper no. 8. Cave Hill, Barbados: University of the West Indies.

Richardson, Bonham C. (1985). Panama Money in Barbados, 1900-1920. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Worrell, DeLisle, ed. (1982). The Economy of Barbados, 1946-1980. Bridgetown: Central Bank of Barbados.


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LOCATION: Barbados


LANGUAGE: English with West African dialect influences

RELIGION: Christianity: Anglican church (majority); Roman Catholicism; Methodism; Rastafarianism; also Jehovah's Witness, Hinduism, Islam, Baha'ism, Judaism; Apostolic Spiritual Baptist is the island's only indigenous religion


Barbados is the only Caribbean island that was governed by only one colonial power, Great Britain. Its influence has given the country the nickname "Little England." The Barbadians' name for themselves is "Bajans" (BAY-juns). It comes from "Barbajians," the way the British pronounced "Barbadians."

The British first landed on Barbados in 1625. They soon began growing sugar cane and brought in African slaves to work on plantations. Even after slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834, things changed very little. The black workers stayed on the plantations while a small group of white landowners held on to economic and political power.

The Barbados Progressive League was founded in 1937. It promoted social, economic, and political reform. Citizens won the right to vote (known as universal suffrage) in 1950. In 1966, Barbados became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.


Barbados belongs to the group of islands known as the Lesser Antilles. Barbados is the easternmost Caribbean island. Its total area is 166 square miles (430 square kilometers). The pear-shaped island consists of lowlands and terraced limestone plains. Its total population was estimated at 264,400 in 1995. With this many people on an island about the size of San Antonio, Texas, Barbados is one of the world's most densely populated countries. It has five times the population density of India.


English is the official language of Barbados. The Barbadian dialect (variation on the language) has strong West African influences. Many words, such as duppy, meaning "ghost," come from African languages. Another African feature is duplicate words (sow-pig, bull-cows, gate-doors).

Some expressions in Barbadian English and their American English equivalents are:

again now
all two both
black lead pencil
cool out relax
duppy umbrella mushroom
fingersmith thief
jump up dance
nyam (or yam) eat
sand side beach
t'ink think
yuh you
break fives shake hands
tie-goat married person
hag bother


The folklore of Barbados goes back to the people's African roots. Many folk beliefs involve methods for keeping ghosts, or duppies, from returning to haunt living people. These folk methods include sprinkling rum on the ground, walking into the house backward, and hanging herbs from the windows and doorways. Another figure from Barbadian folklore is the heartman, who kills children and offers their hearts to the devil. The baccoo is a tiny man who lives in a bottle and can decide a person's destiny.

Some examples of Barbadian proverbs are:

"One-smart dead at two-smart door."
(No matter how smart you are, there's always someone who can outwit you.)

"Coconut don' grow upon pumpkin vine."
(Children turn out like their parents.)


The main religion is Christianity. The Anglican, or Episcopal, Church has the most members. Other Christian denominations include the Roman Catholic Church, Methodist Church, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Altogether, there are more than 140 different sects and denominations. Other religious groups include the Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Baha'is.

Religion is important in the lives of Barbadians. The school day usually begins with a prayer. A popular Sunday afternoon television program, Time to Sing, presents a different church choir every week. There are many religious programs on the radio.

The Apostolic Spiritual Baptists (also known as "Tie-heads") belong to a religion founded on Barbados in 1957. They combine Christian and African religious practices. Tie-heads, both men and women, wear turbans on their heads and colorful gowns. The colors symbolize specific qualities.


Barbadians celebrate the major holidays of the Christian calendar. Other holidays include New Year's Day (January 1), May Day (May 1), CARICOM Day (first Monday in August), Independence Day (November 30), and United Nations Day (first Monday in October. CARICOM day commemorates the founding in 1973 of the Caribbean Community and Common Market.

The island's biggest celebration is the Crop Over festival. It is held in July and early August, and is similar to Thanksgiving in the United States. Crop Over began as a festival celebrating the sugar cane harvest. Events include the presentation of the Last Canes. The climax of the festival is the judging of costumed groups (called bands) on Kadooment Day (August 1).


Most Barbadians mark major life events (birth, puberty, marriage, death) within the Christian tradition.


Barbadians are known for their politeness. This has been linked to the influence of the British. It may also reflect the island's high population density; living so close to others makes it important to prevent conflict.


The standard of living on Barbados is one of the highest in the Caribbean. Nearly all Barbadian households have running water. Almost all have refrigerators and televisions, and most have telephones.

The traditional Barbadian wooden house, or chattel house, is still common on the island. A chattel house has one story and is built from a single layer of wooden planks. It has a unique feature: it can be taken apart easily and moved to another location. The shape of the house is usually symmetrical, with a door in the center and windows on either side. Traditionally, the roof was made of wooden shingles. As of the late 1990s, it is usually galvanized iron, which makes the inside uncomfortably warm.

The most popular type of house is the suburban wall house. It is built of cement blocks and stucco and has a small cement wall around it. It is often built in stages.

Many families can afford only a very small house at first. Later, they often add to it, one room at a time.


Many Barbadian households consist of couples who are not legally married. This may reflect the island's history of slavery, which often separated men from women and from their children. There is also a shortage of men on the island because many have left for other places.

A woman's economic survival is closely connected to her children. When the children are young, the woman receives child support from their father. As the children grow older, they begin to help out with chores and begin to earn money. Children are a woman's main source of support when she is old. Grandmothers are important in raising the children. Often they take care of the children so that mothers can work.


Barbadians wear modern Western-style clothing. Colorful, inventive costumes can be seen at festivals, especially the Crop Over celebration. Members of the Apostolic Spiritual Baptist Church are known for their turbans and their colorful gowns.


Barbadian cooking draws on West African, English, Spanish, French, and other traditions. Cou-cou is one of the most popular dishes. It is a cornmeal and okra pudding. Usually it is served with gravy and salt cod. Salt cod is codfish preserved with salt. It is a staple, or important part, of the Barbadian diet.


Coconut Bread


  • 6 ounces brown sugar
  • 6 ounces shortening
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 cups grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • ¼ pound raisins or mixed fruit
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1¼ pounds flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350°f.
  2. Combine shortening and sugar.
  3. Add the beaten egg, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Mix in the spices, almond extract, fruit or raisins, grated coconut, and milk.
  5. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour the batter into two greased loaf pansa one-pound pan and a two-pound pan.
  7. Bake loaves for one hour, or until browned. Cool on racks before serving.

Rice served with peas (including green, blackeye, cow, and gunga) is another staple. Pork is used in many different ways by Barbarians. They joke that the only part of a pig they can't use for food is its hair. A favorite dessert is coconut bread. If you would like to make coconut bread see the recipe above.


Barbados has a literacy rate (the percentage of people who can read and write) of 95 to 100 percent. This is the highest in the Caribbean. Children five to sixteen years of age are required to attend school. All education is free, including college.

To emphasize Barbadians' African heritage, children learn about African folklore and music in school.


The most famous Barbadian writer is poet and playwright Derek Walcott. He won the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. Other well-known writers include essayist John Wickham, novelist George Lamming, and poet Edward Kamau Braithwaite.

Barbados has an active community of artists. They produce paintings, murals, sculptures, and crafts. Many of their works reflect strong African influences.


About 40 percent of employment on Barbados is in service jobs. This includes about 20 percent in the government. The other main areas are business, manufacturing, and construction, making up 9 percent. Equal numbers of men and women work outside the home.


Cricket is the most popular sport on Barbados. Some people say it is like a national religion. Other popular sports include horse racing, soccer, hockey, rugby, volleyball, and softball. The local game of road tennis is a cross between ping-pong and lawn tennis. It is played with a homemade wooden paddle, and the "net" is a long piece of wood.


Barbadian men traditionally spend their leisure time in the rum shop. It combines the functions of grocery store, bar, and domino parlor. The island has one rum shop for every 150 adults. Women tend to prefer the local church as a social center. Dance, music, and theater are popular. As of the late 1990s, about 80 percent of Barbadian households had television sets.


The Barbadian tuk band provides the music for all major celebrations on the island. With its pennywhistles, snare drums, and bass drums, it is like a British military band, but with an African flair. The calypso, reggae, and steel band music of Trinidad and Jamaica are also very popular.

Barbadian crafts include pottery, mahogany carvings, and jewelry.


The great number of tourists has contributed to water pollution. The island's coral reefs have also been damaged. Some people blame the growth of tourism for problems such as crime, drug use, and prostitution.


Beckles, Hilary. A History of Barbados: From Amerindian Settlement to Nation-State. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Broberg, Merle. Barbados. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Meditz, Sandra W., and Dennis M. Hanratty. Islands of the Caribbean Commonwealth: A Regional Study. Washington, DC: US Government, 1989.

Pariser, Harry S. The Adventure Guide to Barbados. New York: Hunter, 1990.

Potter, Robert B. Barbados. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1987.


Barbados Tourism Authority. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide, Barbados. [Online] Available, 1998.

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