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CIA FactBook      Library of Congress Study

The island of Barbados, meaning "Bearded Ones", is  located 250 miles off the coast of  Venezuela.   Barbados is the easternmost island of the West Indies and one of the most densely populated countries of the world.   The land is basically flat, as it is mostly coral rock.   The capital city, Bridgetown,  is the largest city and the chief port of the island.  The Indians had built a bridge there;  thus, when discovered it was called Indian-Bridge town then later became known as Bridgetown.

Barbados was first settled by the English in 1627 and remained under British rule until it gained independence in 1966.  The government is actually a constitutional monarchy with a governor general representing the British Crown as head of state.  However, the prime minister and the Cabinet rule the country.  As a result, the island has a very English-like atmosphere deserving of the nickname "Little England".

The original inhabitants of the island were the Arawak-speaking Indians who were driven out by the Caribs in the 1500's.  Today, the majority of the population is black, numbering more than three quarters.  Approximately fifteen percent are mixed African and European descent.  Europeans, chiefly British, make up about four percent.  The Church of England is the major denomination, although many others including the Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Moravian can be found there.



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