The culture of Barbados was profoundly affected by having remained under British rule from 1627 until 1966, when it celebrated its independence. The stoicism of the British influence is evident in every day life and in the infrastructure of the island. The more colorful African influence holds sway as well, with a resultant blend that makes for an unmatched cultural disposition.
This fusion of cultures ripples through all facets of daily living, from the food and the music to the house styles and street names. Even the language is affected, with the Queen's English being the official 'language' while the colorful local dialect remains in common usage. Those who live on Barbados refer to themselves as Bajans.Barbados is the most eastern island in the Caribbean and is a tiny dot on most world maps with an area of 430 square kilometer's and 97 kilometers of coastline. Barbados has a population of about 260,000 - which is quite high considering its size.
The capital and by far the largest town is Bridgetown. More than 70 per cent of the island's people are direct descendents from the forced mass Africa migration of the late 1600s and 1700s - the slave trade. The island also has a peaceful blend of European (primarily British) settler blood with the Afro descendents, as well as small but vibrant Hindu (India), Arab (Lebanese and Syrian) and Jewish communities.African influence is readily seen in the art, craft and literary works produced on the island. The island's creative community is a vibrant one, with many artists producing work in all media, as well as a strong contingent of clothing designers and craftspeople. Drawing from the Africa, Caribbean and Anglo experience, much of the work here is distinctive and of high quality.
The African heritage is evident as well in many of the foods and figures of speech. Bajans are a quick-witted, fun-loving people and their gift for the double entendre or turn of phrase is most visible through calypso and literature. Local festivals, particularly the island's biggest national festival, Crop Over, reflect specific elements of Bajan life. The primary driving force of the economy and lifestyle was the sugar crop. It was the island's largest income-earner from the late 1600s until the late 1980s and remains a powerful influence in both the lifestyle and the economy. Crop Over is a celebration of this agricultural mainstay.
The other prime economic influence is, of course, the fishing industry and festivals hailing this trade are also held.The chattel house, a unique feature of Barbados, is one such product of the cultural side of sugar. Of necessity, plantation workers needed houses that were easily assembled and taken down so they could move from plantation to plantation. The chattel house is, in fact, perhaps the world's first true mobile home. Yet other architectural elements are distinctly British, such as the Jacobean style homes built here in the late 1600s.
Barbados is the site of two of the three remaining examples of the house style in the Western Hemisphere.There's so much to see, so many things to do that you almost need a day planner to cover all the places to visit. One favorite way is to rent a car but if you do rent a car, here are a few things to remember. The roads meander, are sometimes illogical and often unmarked.
So don't get upset or frustrated if you get lost - everybody does, even Bajans! If you make a wrong turn, consider it part of the adventure of touring Barbados. You might want to pick up any of several visitor's guides which include maps, such as "Barbados in a Nutshell", or the free Barbados Holiday Map, available everywhere.Bajans are generally very helpful in directing you to your destination. They will do their best to try to steer you the right way, even if the directions seem a bit skewed.
But not to worry, you will get there eventually.A guided tour is excellent value for the money since you can see all the highlights in about four hours and there is never a risk of getting lost. Of course, you will not get to explore the island's secret spots unless you rent a car or book a more personalized tour.
.Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Tourism.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.
By: Michael Russell