| Little is known of
the early history of Barbados, it was perhaps occupied by Arawak
Indians from South America up until the arrival of the Spanish,
in the region in the early 16th century. The earliest European arrivals
were the Portuguese, also in the early 16th century,
although the British established the 1st settlements in 1627. Barbados
was stated a British colony in 1663. Slaves were brought to the
island from Africa, to work on the sugar plantations until the elimination
of slavery in the mid 19th century. Barbados joined the West
Indies Federation in 1958 and was granted internal self
government 3 years later. Full independence within the British Commonwealth
was attained in 1966.
Politics on the
island have since been dominated by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP),
formed by Grantley Adams in 1937, and the rival Democratic Labour
Party (DLP), which began life after a split in the BLP. The 2 parties
have alternated between government and opposition since independence.
The DLP’s most recent term of office ended in 1994, after
8 years in charge. Since then, the BLP has been most excellent.
At the most current general election, held in 2003, the BLP won
23 out of the 30 House of Assembly seats.
Barbados participates in CARICOM (the Caribbean
Common Market) and the United Sttes backed Regional Security System,
set up following the 1983 United States invasion of Grenada. Barbados
backed the invasion, assigning some of its own troops to the occupying
force. More recently, the island has obtained a problem with drug
trafficking, as the Caribbean islands have become important transit
points between South and North America.
The government is also 1 of the main proponents
of further regional integration, despite the trade and political
frictions that have inhibited it. As with the majority of Caribbean
members of the British Commonwealth, the Queen is Head of State
in Barbados. However, there is a strong lobby, backed by a recent
government commission examining Barbados’ constitutional future,
for an elected president as Head of State. This would follow the
example of Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Dominica. Another issue
that may continute to develop is Barbados's relationship with its
'neighbour', Trinidad & Tobago, early 2004 oversaw Barbados
and Trinidad & Tobago engage in a sear border dispute that remains