Government of Barbados - History

Government of Barbados - History

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Government type:
parliamentary democracy (Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm
name: Bridgetown

Administrative divisions:
11 parishes and 1 city*; Bridgetown*, Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas
30 November 1966 (from the UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 30 November (1966)
adopted 22 November 1966, effective 30 November 1966; amended several times, last in 2007 (2016)
Legal system:
English common law; no judicial review of legislative acts
International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sandra MASON (since 8 January 2018)
head of government: Prime Minister Mia MOTTLEY (since 25 May 2018)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
Legislative branch:
description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
elections: House of Assembly - last held on 24 May 2018 (next to be held in 2023)
note: note - tradition dictates that the election is held within 5 years of the last election, but constitutionally it is 5 years from the first seating of Parliament plus a 90-day grace period
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - BLP 74.6%, DLP 22.6%, other 2.8%; seats by party - BLP 30
Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the High Court with 8 justices) and the Court of Appeal (consists of the High Court chief justice and president of the court and 4 justices; note - in 2010, Barbados, a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice, replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as the final court of appeal
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister and opposition leader of Parliament; other justices appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, a 5-member independent body consisting of the Supreme Court chief justice, the commission head, and governor-general appointees recommended by the prime minister; justices serve until mandatory retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts
Political parties and leaders:
Bajan Free Party [Alex MITCHELL]
Barbados Integrity Movement [Neil HOLDER]
Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]
Democratic Labor Party or DLP [Verla DE PEIZA]
People’s Democratic Congress [Mark ADAMSON]
People's Empowerment Party or PEP [David COMISSIONG]
Solutions Barbados [Grenville PHILLIPS II]
United Progressive Party or UPP [Lynette EASTMOND]


Barbados is a parliamentary democracy with universal adult suffrage and a bicameral legislature and party system. Barbados is also a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. She is represented by a governor-general who is appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister.

The parliament of Barbados consists of Queen Elizabeth II, the Senate and the House of Assembly. The Senate consists of 21 members appointed by the governor-general 12 on the advice of the prime minister, two by the leader of the opposition and the remaining seven at the governor-general’s discretion. The House of Assembly has 30 directly elected members who sit for a period not exceeding five years.

The governor-general, acting in accordance with the advice of the prime minister, can at any time prorogue or dissolve parliament. When parliament is dissolved, the governor-general is obliged to issue writs for a general election of members of the House of Assembly returnable within 90 days.

The governor-general appoints as prime minister the parliamentarian who commands – in the governor-general’s view – the largest support within the House of Assembly. The prime minister heads the cabinet. Other ministers are appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister.

The judicial system, based in broad terms on English Common Law, is administered by the Supreme Court of Judicature. This comprises the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Magistrates’ courts conduct preliminary hearings.

The judges of the Supreme Court are the Chief Justice (appointed by the governor-general) and such number of puisne judges as prescribed by parliament. A judge may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his office or for misbehaviour.

In 2005 the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, became the final court of appeal, replacing the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.

The Caribbean island of Barbados has probably been inhabited for thousands of years, but it was not until the end of the fifteenth century that European explorers first became aware of the island. In 1625 it was formally claimed for King James I of England. It soon became an English settler colony which featured a sugar plantation economy, worked by slaves taken from Africa. By 1957 Barbados had virtual self-government and in 1966 it achieved independence from the United Kingdom.

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which developed out of the trade unions, gained a majority in the House of Assembly between 1944 and 1961. In 1955 a split in the BLP led to the formation of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). In the decades after 1966, the BLP and DLP alternated repeatedly as party of government and party of opposition. In 1989 some dissidents within the DLP broke away to form a new National Democratic Party (NDP), but failed to win any seats in the 1991 elections. In 2006 the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) was formed.

In 2008 the DLP won the general election, ending the BLP’s 13 years in government. The PEP did not manage to win any seats.

Queen hits back at Barbados' bid for independence with official palace statement

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Buckingham Palace said Barbados' intention to remove the Queen as head of state and become a republic is a "matter" for the Caribbean nation. Asked to comment on the Commonwealth country's plans a palace spokesman said: "This is a matter for the government and people of Barbados."


Barbadians' intention to sever their ties with the Crown were laid bare yesterday by the country's Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason.

With a statement, the Governor-General announced the Caribbean island wants to ditch the Queen as head of state by next year.

Reading a speech written by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Dame Sandra said: "The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.

"Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State.

The Queen's palace has reacted to Barbados' independence bid (Image: GETTY)

The Queen meeting the Governor-General of Barbados (Image: GETTY)

"This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.

"Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of Independence."

This speech appeared to have been inspired by the country's first Prime Minister Errol Barrow 's warning against " loitering on colonial premises&rdquo.

The Queen is the head of state of 16 countries (Image: GETTY)

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The Governor-General is appointed by the monarch and represents the Queen in the country.

Many political leaders in Barbados have been exploring the path to republicanism over the past decades.

In 1998, a Barbados Constitutional review commission recommended the country to become a republic.

The Queen visiting Barbados in 1977 (Image: GETTY)

Prince Harry during his tour to the Caribbean island (Image: GETTY)

In 2005, the Government announced its intention to hold a referendum which would have asked its citizens whether they wanted to break free from the Crown.

Planned to be held by 2008, the Barbadian Government announced the vote would be pushed back to a later date in 2007 and was never carried out.

A decade later, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said it was necessary for the country to sever its ties to the Crown.

Member states of the Commonwealth mapped (Image: EXPRESS)

He said in 2015: "We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulder at having gone into independence having de-colonised our politics we cannot pat ourselves on the shoulders at having decolonized our jurisprudence by delinking from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and explain to anybody why we continue to have a monarchical system.

"Therefore, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow decolonized the politics Owen Arthur decolonized the jurisprudence and Freundel Stuart is going to complete the process."

Barbados was claimed as an English territory overseas in 1625, when Captain Henry Powell landed on the Caribbean island.

Prince Harry first visited Barbados in 2010 (Image: GETTY)

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Within the centuries, English governors introduced on the island African slaves to work the sugar plantations fields.

Barbados became independent in 1966 but retained the Queen as its head of state.

Links to Britain are still apparent when it comes to names of towns, such as Hastings, or streets, such as Liverpool Lane.

About The UWI

In 1943 the Vice Chancellors of United Kingdom Universities convened a special commission to &aposconsider the principles which should guide the promotion of higher education, learning and research. in the colonies.&apos The recommendations of that commission saw a Royal Charter formally establishing what was then the University College of the West Indies in 1948. The University of the West Indies which today boasts of being one of only two regional higher education institutions in the world began with one campus (Mona, Jamaica) at the historic Gibraltar World War II Camp acquired at a cost of 㾸,000.

In 1960 The UWI&aposs second campus at St. Augustine was born out of a merger between the University College and the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (IATA) in the island of Trinidad. The two campus College remained affiliated with the University of London until 1962 when it became The University of the West Indies, an institution in its own right with the privilege of granting its own degrees.

What is today known as The Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies started in 1963 as the College of Arts & Sciences in temporary quarters at the Bridgetown Harbour. On October 16, 1967 the College of Arts and Science at Barbados opened the academic year at the new university buildings at Cave Hill, on a 45-acre site provided by the Government of Barbados. With the establishment of the Faculty of Law in 1970, the name of the Caribbean College was changed to the Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies.

The UWI&aposs fourth Campus, the Open Campus was formally launched in June 2008 in Antigua and Barbuda. The Open Campus is an amalgamation of the previous Office of the Board for Non-Campus Countries & Distance Education (BNNCDE), the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), the UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC), and the Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU all of which are direct descendants of the Department of Extra-Mural Studies. The UWI Open Campus offers multi-mode teaching and learning services through virtual and physical site locations across the Caribbean region. There are nearly 50 physical site locations of the Open Campus of the Open Campus in the region, serving 17 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean.

A true 21st century institution, The UWI established its fifth campus in Five Islands – Antigua and Barbuda in 2019 with the aim of expanding its service to the organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). It opened with three schools offering programmes in Humanities and Education Management, Science and Technology and Health and Behavioural Sciences.

As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

Our Mission, vision and core values

To be an excellent global university rooted in the Caribbean.

Our Mission

To advance learning, create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean and the wider world.

  • Integrity: The UWI will perform in an honest, caring, ethical and trustworthy manner, and will create a culture of accountability in its management practices to ensure that these values are sustained.
  • Excellence: The UWI will serve its internal and external stakeholders by delivering consistently high-quality and relevant service, benchmarked against international standards and operational best practices.
  • Gender Justice: The UWI will actively create and sustain, as a core value, a social, academic, and administrative culture that supports and promotes gender equality and justice within its environments. This policy will require systematic research into its effectiveness with a view to taking appropriate actions of a corrective nature.
  • Diversity: The UWI will foster a culture and work/study environment that is open and welcoming to different ideas and perspectives, acknowledges and values diversity, is inclusive of and affirms the dignity of all persons regardless of race, socio-economic status, age, sex, gender identity and expression, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, family or marital status, national origin, language, political or religious persuasion, health status, and other characteristics that make its constituents unique.
  • Student Centredness: The UWI will ensure that its policies, governance and daily operations are geared towards the delivery of an exceptional teaching and learning experience for all students.

UCWI/UWI Timeline

This is a timeline of major events and developments at the University of the West Indies (UWI), from its inception as the University College of the West Indies (UCWI) as well as the events whcih fed into the University's coming into being.


The influence of the English on Barbados is more noticeable than on other islands in the West Indies. A good example of this is the island's national sport: cricket. Barbados has had several great cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell.

Citizens are officially called Barbadians.

In the music business, Rihanna (born Robyn Fenty) is one of Barbados' best-known Grammy winning artists.

In Barbados, the official language is English. But they also speak an English-African Creole language known as Bajan.


The estimated net migration rate for Barbados in 2005 was -0.31 migrants per 1,000 population. Foreign-born residents are mainly from the other countries in the region, such as St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Guyana. Extra-regional foreign-born residents are mainly from the United Kingdom, United States, and India. To meet the problem of overpopulation, the government encourages emigration. Most emigrants now resettle in the Caribbean region or along the eastern US coast. As of 2004, Barbados recorded a small refugee population of nine. Barbados was expected to receive greater numbers of asylum seekers in the future due to extra-regional migration to and migrant trafficking through the Caribbean.


The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. Slaves worked the sugar plantations established on the island until 1834 when slavery was abolished.

The economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th century. The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966.

In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance.

Official Name:

Local Time = UTC -4h
Actual Time: Mon-June-21 07:36

Capital City: Bridgetown

Type: Parliamentary democracy independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth.
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II represented by a Governor General.
Independence: 30 November 1966 (from the UK)

Location: Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Area: 431 sq. km. (166 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Generally flat, hilly in the interior.

Climate: Tropical rainy season (July to November).

Nationality: Barbadian(s) informally "Bajan(s)."
Population: 290,000 (2016 estimated)
GNI per capita PPP: $ 17 170 (year)
Ethnic groups: Black 90%, White 4%, Asian or mixed 6%.
Religions: Protestant 67%, Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%.
Language: English.
Literacy: 99,7%

Natural resources: Petroleum, fish, natural gas.

Agriculture products: Sugarcane, vegetables, cotton.

Industries: Tourism, sugar, financial services, information services, light manufacturing, component assembly for export.

Major trading partners: Caribbean Community (CARICOM), UK, USA

Exports - commodities: manufactures, sugar, molasses, rum, other foodstuffs and beverages, chemicals, electrical components.

Imports - commodities: consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components.

Imports partners: Trinidad and Tobago 39%, USA 31.1% (2015)

Official Sites of Barbados

Government of Barbados
Official Site of the Government of Barbados.

Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS)
Website of the official communications arm of the Barbados Government.

Parliament of Barbados
Official Site of Barbados' Parliamnet with information on the Senate and the House of Assembly.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade with its overseas missions.

Barbados Statistical Service
Website of Barbados Statistical Service.

Map of Barbados
Shaded relief map of Barbados.
Google Earth map Barbados
Searchable map and satellite view of Barbados.
Google Earth map Bridgetown
Searchable map and satellite view of Barbados's capital city.

Map of Central America and the Caribbean
Reference Map of Central America and the Caribbean.

Bathsheba, the main fishing village in the parish of Saint Joseph, Barbados.
Image: Postdlf

Barbados News

Caribbean News Agency (Cana)
News and information from the English-speaking Caribbean.

Arts & Culture

Bajans on the Web
This is the place for Bajans, either in Bim or out, to find each other online.
Barbados Gospelfest
Barbadian Gospel Music Festival with international and regional acts.
Barbados MusicEvents
Page about the Barbadian music events.
Crop Over Festival
Barbados' most popular and colourful five-week summer festival.

Business & Economy

Central Bank of Barbados
Premier financial institution in the country.

Barbados Investment and Development Corporation
Promoting Barbados as the ideal location in which to invest and do business.
Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry
For sustainable economic progress for all Barbadians.

Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA)
Official website of the non-profit trade association.

Travel and Tour Consumer Information

Destination Barbados - Travel and Tour Guides

Discover Barbados: Bridgetown, St James, Christ Church, St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Philip: Crop Over Festival, Soca Music, St. Lucy, Harrison's Cave, Morgan Lewis Mill, Cannon Galore, North Coast, Sourth Coast, St. Lawrence Gap, East Coast, West Coast.

Visit Barbados
Official Barbados travel and tourism website.

Barbados Ministry of Tourism
With information about the ministry and tourism in Barbados.


Environment & Nature

The National Conservation Commission (NCC)
To conserve the natural beauty, topographic features, historic buildings, sites and monuments of Barbados.

Barbados Flag

November 30, 1966, the national flag of Barbados was officially accepted. Barbados Flag comprises of two blue outer bands unglued by a golden middle band, and a black trident-head in the center. The two blue bands are expected to stand for the ocean, while the gold is for the sand on the island.

The trident is taken from the old overseas badge, which showed Flag of Barbados holding a trident. The damaged lower part indicates a symbolic break with its ancient and constitutional ties as an earlier colony. The three points of the trident signify the three principles of democracy - government of, for, and by the people.

History of Barbados Flag

During 1958 and 62, Flag of the West Indies Federation, known as "Sun and Seas Flag" comprises of a blue field with four white horizontal wavy bars and an orange sun in the center was adapted. Later, the flag of the Colony of Barbados between 1870 and 1966, a British Blue Ensign with an emblem of Barbados was adopted.

Barbados Flag Design and Symbolic Meaning

It involves of a triband of two bands of ultramarine that stand for the ocean nearby the country and the sky, detached by a golden middle band representing the sand. A black trident head is centered in the golden band. The trident representation was taken from Barbados' colonial badge. The broken lower part symbolizes an emblematic break from its grade as a colony. The three points of the trident characterize the three principles of democracy known as government of the people, government for the people, and government by the people.

The two red stripes at the top and bottom are the new modification made in the design after independence. However, the coat of arms was granted in 1907. The Latin motto “I flourish in the shade” is a reference to forests and its establishment was added to the flag, which was later omitted in 1907. In 1964, the current government unofficially flew the flag over public buildings. However, on Independence Day, a revised national flag was officially hoisted.

About Barbados Republic

Lying in the North America continent, Barbados is originated in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean in North America. It has one of the most famous beaches in the world. Barbados is an island country located in the Caribbean and situated in the easternmost island in the Caribbean and completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The nation has 2.86 lacs inhabitants with the population density of 660 people per square kilometer (1,704/square mile).

Barbados has democratic government, where the President is considered as the head of state and the Prime Minister as head of government. Following, the executive power is exercised by the president and the government.

The official language of Barbados is English and the currency is Barbadian dollar. Barbados comprises of two letters Barbados code i.e. BB and its three letters Barbados code is BRB and in digits it is 052. The calling code is +1-246 and the UTC i.e. standard time followed in Barbados is UTC -4 hours.

Barbados comprises a total of 12 parishes. These include: Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael.

Parents Education For Development In Barbados (PAREDOS) is a non-profit organization that has been developing partnership with International and Government agencies, the private sector, NGO’s and individuals to deliver Parent Education and Support Programmes to families for over thirty-six (36) years.

PAREDOS opened the Bertie Graham Early Childhood Education Unit in 2001 which is the home of the PAREDOS Day Care Centre.

PAREDOS is guided by an Executive Committee and managed by a Director and a team of highly qualified staff. Professional resource persons and trained volunteers provide technical assistance.

PAREDOS School-Based Programme

PAREDOS Anger Management and Character Building Programme (AMCBP) is being conducted in the primary schools in Barbados, with children (5 to 11 years) their parents and teachers. This programme is a collaborative effort between between PAREDOS and the private sector, and is supported by the Ministry of Education and principals of the participating schools.

Early Childhood Education

PAREDOS Day Care centre is designed to expose children 3 months - 4 ½ years to a wide range of developmental and learning strategies, allowing each child to reach his/her full spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional and social potential, while providing parent education and support to their parents.

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