A British colony in the West Indies about 300 miles north of Venezuela; a popular resort area.
Island country in the Caribbean, one of the Lesser Antilles. It is about 483 km/300 mi N of Venezuela.
The bicameral legislature dates from 1627, when the British settled. The constitution dates from 1966 and provides for a system of parliamentary government on the British model, with a prime minister and cabinet drawn from and responsible to the legislature, which consists of a Senate and a House of Assembly. The Senate has 21 members appointed by the governor-general, 12 on the advice of the prime minister, two on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and the rest on the basis of wider consultations. The House of Assembly has 28 members elected by universal suffrage. The legislature has a maximum life of five years and may be dissolved within this period. The governor-general appoints both the prime minister (on the basis of support in the House of Assembly) and the leader of the opposition.
Originally inhabited by Arawak Indians, who were wiped out soon after the arrival of the first Europeans, Barbados became a British colony 1627 and remained so until independence 1966. Universal adult suffrage was introduced 1951, and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won the first general election. Ministerial government was established 1954, and BLP leader Grantley Adams became the first prime minister.
A group broke away from the BLP 1955 and formed the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). Six years later full internal self-government was achieved, and in the 1961 general election the DLP was victorious under its leader Errol Barrow.
When Barbados attained full independence 1966, Barrow became its first prime minister. The DLP was reelected 1971, but in the 1976 general election the BLP—led now by Grantley Adams's son Tom—ended Barrow's 15-year rule.
Both parties were committed to maintaining free enterprise and alignment with the US, although the DLP government established diplomatic relations with Cuba 1972 and the BLP administration supported the US invasion of Grenada 1983.
end of two-party system
The BLP was reelected 1981. After Adams's sudden death 1985 he was succeeded by his deputy, Bernard St John, a former BLP leader. In the 1986 general election the DLP, led by Barrow, was returned to power with 24 of the 27 seats in the house of assembly. Errol Barrow died 1987 and was succeeded by Erskine Lloyd Sandiford. A new opposition party, the centrist National Democratic Party, was formed 1989. The DLP obtained 18 seats with 49% of the vote in Jan 1991 elections, and the BLP only 10 seats with 44% of the vote. In the Sept 1994 general election the fortunes of the BLP were restored and its new leader, Owen Arthur, became prime minister.