Friday, August 24, 2012


Located in the southern part of the Caribbean, the island nation of Barbados lies north of Trinidad and Tobago and east of the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The name itself is somewhat vague as to its origin: some attribute it to the Spanish word meaning "bearded," possibly in reference to low-hanging trees. Its reference is also related to the name of the island of Barbuda (as in Antigua and Barbuda).

While the Portuguese and the Spanish had actually visited the island originally, by the time the British arrived, it was unoccupied. Some historians think the Spanish may have taken what Indian tribes were there as slaves to another island. The British set up the capital as Bridgetown, and the island was used as a stop in the slave trade, mostly for cultivating tobacco, ginger, indigo, ginger, and sugar cane. During the 1830s, the British emancipated slavery, and many stayed. However, during the mid-1900s, many Afro-Barbadians left for Britain.

Because it was claimed as a British territory, English is the official language. Although, Bajan is used amongst the locals in casual situations. Bajan (rhymes with "cajun") is a local dialect that consists of various parts of English syntax and words mixed with some African words and used as a term to indicate not only the native dialect but also for anything Barbadian.

The vast majority of the people are of African origin, but there are small numbers of whites, East Indians and other East Asians. Christianity (of various denominations) is the dominant religion of Barbados as well, with of course a small smattering of Rastafarians, Hindus, and other religions.

Barbados is doing some really good things. First off, they enjoy national health care. Second of all, 100% of urban and rural areas have access to clean water and sanitation. Thirdly, they have some of the highest literacy rates: about 99.7%!

One thing I read was that it's illegal in Barbados for civilians to wear camouflage; only military personnel are allowed and authorized to do so. So, sorry Destiny's Child "Survivor" video. Not gonna cut it.

Speaking of, one of Barbados' most famous residents is the internationally renowned singer Rihanna. In fact, a few years ago, the prime minister declared a Rihanna Day on her birthday, but it was just a one time affair. That's nothing: I get that treatment every year. (At least in my head anyhow.)

I'm looking forward to delving into Barbados this week. Ok, really, it's just that I've already got my recipes together, and I'm hungry. The spices, the fruits, it all looks good to me. It's this mix of British and Caribbean that makes Barbadian food and culture what it is. It always amazes me that a country that I had little fore-knowledge about always intrigues me to learn more. And Barbados is no exception.

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