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Welcome to the Barbados Portal!

Welcome to the Barbados Portal, your starting point for all things Barbadian/Bajan on Geni. If you are new and would like to introduce yourself, or if you'd like to ask any questions, please use the "Discussions" link at the right.

About Barbados

Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles, in the Americas. It is 34 kilometres (21 miles) in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 km (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 km (104 mi) east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 km (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Inhabited by Kalinago people since the 13th century, and prior to that by other Amerindians, Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appeared in a Spanish map in 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. An English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1625; its men took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.

In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm with the British Monarch (presently Queen Elizabeth II) as hereditary head of state. It has a population of 280,121 people, predominantly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is ranked as a leading tourist destination. Forty percent of the tourists come from the UK, with the US and Canada making up the next large groups of visitors to the island. In 2014, Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Barbados joint second in the Americas (after Canada, equal with the United States) and joint 17th globally (after Belgium and Japan, equal with the US, Hong Kong and Ireland).

Ethnic Groups

Close to 90% of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as "Bajan") are of Afro-Caribbean descent ("Afro-Bajans") and mixed-descent. The remainder of the population includes groups of Europeans ("Anglo-Bajans" / "Euro-Bajans") mainly from the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with Asians, predominantly Chinese and Indians (both Hindu and Muslim). Other groups in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. Barbadians who return after years of residence in the United States and children born in America to Bajan parents are called "Bajan Yankees," a term considered derogatory by some. Generally, Bajans recognise and accept all "children of the island" as Bajans, and refer to each other as such.

The biggest communities outside the Afro-Caribbean community are:

  1. The Indo-Guyanese, an important part of the economy due to the increase of immigrants from partner country Guyana. There are reports of a growing Indo-Bajan diaspora originating from Guyana and India starting around 1990. Predominantly from southern India and Hindu states, they are growing in size but smaller than the equivalent communities in Trinidad and Guyana.
  2. Euro-Bajans (4% of the population) have settled in Barbados since the 17th century, originating from England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1643, there were 37,200 whites in Barbados (86% of the population). More commonly they are known as "White Bajans." Euro-Bajans introduced folk music, such as Irish music and Highland music, and certain place names, such as "Scotland," a mountainous region. Among White Barbadians there exists an underclass known as Redlegs; mostly the descendants of Irish indentured labourers and prisoners imported to the island. Many additionally moved on to become the earliest settlers of modern-day North and South Carolina in the United States.
  3. Chinese-Barbadians are a small portion of Barbados' Asian demographics. Most if not all first arrived in the 1940s during the Second World War. Many Chinese-Bajans have the surnames Chin, Chynn or Lee, although other surnames prevail in certain areas of the island. Chinese food and culture is becoming part of everyday Bajan culture.
  4. Lebanese and Syrians form the island's Arab Barbadian community, which is overwhelmingly Christian Arab. The Muslim Arab minority among Arab Barbadian make up a small percentage of the overall minority Muslim Barbadian population. The majority of the Lebanese and Syrians arrived in Barbados through trade opportunities. Their numbers are falling due to emigration to other countries.
  5. Jews arrived in Barbados just after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is the home of Nidhe Israel Synagogue, the oldest Jewish synagogue in the Americas, dating from 1654, though the current structure was erected in 1833 replacing one ruined by the hurricane of 1831. Tombstones in the neighbouring cemetery date from the 1630s. Now under the care of the Barbados National Trust, the site was deserted in 1929 but was saved and restored by the Jewish community beginning in 1986.
  6. The Muslim Barbadians of Indian origin are largely of Gujarati ancestry. Many small businesses in Barbados are run and operated by Muslim-Indian Bajans.
  7. Romani people from England were banished to Jamaica and Barbados in 1665.

Genealogy

Geni Projects

Existing Barbadian projects on Geni include:

Research Resources

To learn more about conducting Barbadian research, consult the following resources: