The sugar revolution, the introduction of sugar cane from Dutch Brazil, in the 1640s was very lucrative, but brought high social costs
Barbados was one of the oldest English settlements in the West Indies, surpassed only by Saint Kitts.
The countries’ historical ties date back to the 17th century and include settlement, post-colonialism, and modern bilateral relations.
Since Barbados gained independence in 1966, the nations have continued to share their ties through the Commonwealth, with the Queen as Monarch.
The Barbados Parliament is the third oldest in the entire Commonwealth and the island continues to practice the Westminster style of government.
Many of the island’s historic Anglican churches and plantation houses show the influence of English architecture.
In 1627, 80 Englishmen landed on board the William and John on the Caribbean island and founded Jamestown (near present-day Holetown), in the name of King James I.
The early settlers struggled to develop a profitable export crop and struggled to maintain supplies from Europe.
However, the sugar revolution, the introduction of sugar cane from Dutch Brazil, in the 1640s was very lucrative and in the next decade more than two-thirds of the English emigrants to America went to Barbados.
But while this shift to sugar generated huge profits, it came at a high social cost. Thousands of West African slaves were shipped across the Atlantic to work the plantations, and workers suffered from low wages and minimal social benefits.
It is estimated that between 1627 and 1807 some 387,000 Africans were shipped to the island against their will and the country changed from a predominantly white to a predominantly black population.
On August 28, 1833, the British government passed the Slavery Abolition Act, and slaves throughout the British Empire were emancipated.
Barbados remained a British colony until it was granted internal autonomy in 1961.
The country became fully independent on November 30, 1966, at a time when the country’s economy was growing and diversifying.
Since then, the Parliament of Barbados has remained a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modeled on the British Westminster system of government.
In 2008, UK exports to Barbados were £ 38 million, making it Britain’s fourth largest export market in the region.
In recent years, a growing number of British citizens have moved to Barbados to live, and polls show that British citizens make up 75-85 percent of Barbados’ second home market.