Amerindian Era (circa 350 AD - 1200 AD)
The Arawaks, migrating from South America, first settled in Barbados. They were later displaced by the Caribs, who enhanced the island's agricultural practices and established trade networks with other Caribbean islands.
Late Amerindian Era (1200 - 16th century)
Barbados was dominated by the Caribs, who had displaced the earlier Arawaks. They established structured settlements, traded with neighboring islands, and cultivated crops like cassava. By the late 15th century, their population was in decline, possibly due to conflicts, diseases, or environmental factors.
European Exploration (16th century)
Spanish navigators likely spotted Barbados in the late 15th century. Though they did not establish permanent settlements, they played a role in the decline of the indigenous Carib population through forced relocation and diseases.
British Settlement & Sugar Boom (1625-1800)
Claimed for England in 1625, Barbados saw its first English settlers in 1627. The island rapidly transformed into a major sugar producer. Initially, the labor-intensive sugar industry relied on indentured servants, many of whom were forcibly transported from Ireland and Scotland. By the mid-17th century, the plantation system shifted to rely heavily on enslaved Africans.
Cromwellian Exile (1650s)
During Oliver Cromwell's rule in England, thousands of Irish were sent to Barbados as indentured servants and slaves. These Irish exiles, often referred to as the "Redlegs," faced harsh conditions and were a significant portion of the island's population.
Anglo-Dutch Wars & Inter-Colonial Conflicts (1652-1674)
Barbados, due to its economic importance, was a strategic point of interest during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. While the island itself did not witness direct large-scale battles, its economy and trade were affected by these naval conflicts.
Abolition & Post-Emancipation (1800-1900)
The 19th century was marked by significant social changes. Slavery was abolished in 1834, leading to the emancipation of thousands of enslaved Africans. The island's economy and society underwent adjustments, with former slaves seeking autonomy through land ownership and alternative employment.
Path to Independence (20th century)
The early 20th century witnessed a series of political reforms and movements towards self-governance. Labor movements in the 1930s and 1940s, influenced by the hardships of the Great Depression, played a pivotal role in pushing for rights and representation. Barbados achieved full internal self-governance in 1961 and celebrated its independence from Britain in 1966.
Modern Barbados (1966-Present)
Since independence, Barbados has diversified its economy, with tourism becoming pivotal. The nation has maintained political stability, actively participated in regional and international diplomacy, and announced its intention to become a republic by 2021.