Barbados is an island located in the southeast of the Caribbean sea. Its history is quite similar to that of Jamaica. It started out as a Spanish colony, but centuries later, it was conquered by the United Kingdom.
Barbados remained a colony until 1966, when the country declared its independence, became a member of the British Commonwealth and joined the UN.
Today, this country is the tourism leader in the Caribbean region. And its history makes it one of the most interesting nations in the Americas.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 10 fun facts about Barbados that you’ll be glad to discover.
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You Don’t Just Visit Barbados Once
Approximately 2.8 million people visit Barbados every single year — and it’s not odd for them to return. Barbados has one of the Caribbean’s highest repeat visitor rates.
The Cricket World Capital
Cricket is huge in Barbados. This dates back to its colonial past. Barbados has been the home of the forgers of cricket as a competitive sport. Among the most notorious figures of Barbados’ cricket history, there are names like Desmond Haynes, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Frank Worrell, Gordon Greenidge, and Charlie Griffith.
In Barbados, you can find people playing cricket at almost any time of the year, anywhere: in beaches, fields or streets. Historically, Barbados has won 27 tournaments, and it participates in three cricket seasons. The domestic season begins in May and ends in December. The regional first-class lasts from January to March. And the international season begins in March and ends in June.
In informal settings, Barbadians call themselves “Bajans”, and they speak Bajan Creole.
Bajan Creole is an English-based creole language with strong African influences. It’s mostly a spoken language, with English replacing it in formal, written communications.
According to Ethnologue, in Barbados, Bajan is approximately 200 times more spoken than English. This makes the island’s official language, English, a minority language.
The Origin of the Name Barbados
The name Barbados (Spanish and Portuguese for “bearded”) might have its origin in the bearded fig trees that proliferate on the island.
It’s believed that the name “Los Barbados” was given by Pedro Campos in 1536 when the Portuguese explorer the island while sailing to Brazil.
The Birthplace of Rum
Barbados is the birthplace of rum, home to the oldest rum brand in the world, Mount Gay. Mount Gay was founded in 1703, and it’s often ranked as the best rum in the world. The brand is sold in more than 100 countries, and its distillery is a top tourist destination.
Rum is a key part of Barbados’ culture. And sharing some rum is often seen as an act of bonding. For instance, it’s often drunk during or after sealing a business deal.
A Great Place for Food Lovers
Like all Caribbean nations, Barbados’ cuisine is defined by fusion and by the use of high-quality, local fish and produce.
Every November, Mount Gay organizes a Food, Wine & Rum Festival. This is just one of the numberless food festivals that the island hosts all-year-round. These luxurious events have made Barbados “the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean”.
Below the Hurricane Belt
Whether you’re considering retiring to the Caribbean, or just a simple holiday, you should be very aware that one of the main downsides of this region is its vulnerability to natural disasters. That’s not the case for Barbados.
Barbados hasn’t experienced a single storm in more than half a century. Mostly, because the country is in the lower-east part of the Caribbean (the lower Antilles), and is therefore below the hurricane belt.
85% of the island’s composition consists of a 20–30 meters thick layer of coral limestone. And most of the island’s surface water runs off underground. Thanks to this layer of coral limestone, Barbados has one of the purest waters in the world, since the coral acts as a natural filter. One can also perceive this high volume of coral in the white sand of the country’s beautiful beaches, which are surrounded by coral reefs.
This layer of coral limestone was formed 600 thousand years ago when the island was uplifted by earth movements. This uplifting created two convex crests of rock, called “anticlines”. One of them is at the center of the island, with the other one is in the south.
There’s a Neptune Reference in the Flag
We couldn't write a "Fun Facts About Barbados" guide without mentioning Neptune. The Barbados flag consists of a stripe of gold, between two blue stripes. These colors, in this order, represent the country’s beautiful beaches, its blue skies, golden sand, and blue, pure waters.
In the center of the flag, within the golden stripe, we can see the trident of Poseidon/Neptun, the Graeco-Roman God that represented the sea. This trident appeared on colonial emblems when Barbados was part of the British Empire.
The trident symbolizes the island’s past — but also its present. In the flag, this trident is broken, representing Barbados’ independence.
An Expanding Economy
Before its independence, Barbados was a low-income country that mostly relied on sugar cane production.
Since 1966, Barbados has developed into a prosperous country with a pushing tourism sector and a consistently growing GDP.
It’s also worth mentioning that, as doing business in the Caribbean guide will mention that Barbados has such a business-friendly tax regime that dozens of international companies decide to incorporate in the country.
Did you know these fun facts about Barbados? Is there something interesting we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!