the nomadic people of the Arawaks live scattered across the
Caribbean, and although the Caribbean people drove them from
several islands, the Arawaks nevertheless managed to "get
stuck" on some islands, including Barbados.
In the early 16th century, the Spaniards arrived on the
island, which they named "de las Higueras Barbadas".
Convinced that no riches of any kind existed, the Spaniards
left the island again, though not before massive massacres
had been inflicted on the residents. The few who survived
were brought to the Spanish court as amusement for the
nobility. When the English occupied the island in 1625, they
found it uninhabited.
Until 1640, about 30,000 residents lived on the island.
The majority were poultry farmers who had settled here with
their families. Of these, a large number of people had fled
the political and religious persecution they had faced in
England and Ireland. These smaller landowners cultivated
tobacco, cotton, pepper, and moisture; besides cattle, swine
and poultry breeding.
The introduction of sugar cane led to widespread social
upheaval. The plantation owners needed extensive land as the
new crop, to be profitable, required large areas. The
smaller landowners, who, for the most part, were deeply
indebted, did not hesitate to dispose of their land. Here
began the importation of African slaves.
In 1667, 2,000 small farmers emigrated to other Caribbean
islands or to the British colonies of North America.
According to testimony from a French traveler, dated to
1696, the island possessed a merchant fleet of 600 ships,
making it "the most powerful colony among the American
By the end of the 18th century, the island had already
been transformed into one large sugar refinery with 745
plantations and more than 80,000 African slaves. Of this
island, described by a 16th-century historian as "completely
covered in forest", not much was left; the ecological
balance had been decisively affected to a point where
deforestation and extensive drought periods were witnessed
already in the early 19th century.
The hunt for better returns and the opening up of the
foreign capital economy brought the underdevelopment to
Barbados, which could have had a development process similar
to the British colonies in North America.