History of Barbados

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The island of Barbados was first inhabited by an Amerindian migrant group called the Saladoid-Barrancoid around 350 to 650 AD. Their ancestors are believed to be from the Orinoco Basin in South America. The Spanish were the first Europeans to land on the island in the sixteenth century and reported the Amerindian settlement. However, when the Portuguese explorer, Pedro a Campus landed there in 1536, he claimed that the island was uninhabited. The original inhabitants, the Saladoid-Barrancoid, spoke a language which later became known as Arawakan. They were considered to be skilled farmers and fisherman while also excelling in ceramic crafts. They traded throughout the Caribbean area, which is known because artifacts of the Saladiod-Barrancoid have been found not only on Barbados, but also on neighboring islands. The slave population of Barbados increased greatly between 1643 and 1666. In 1643 the island had 6,400 slaves, and by 1666 they had over 50,000. The wealth of the planter class on the island was becoming more evident. The prosperity of the sugar industry within Barbados lasted until the early 1700s. The island of Jamaica and some of the Leeward Islands gained prosperity within the sugar industry. The diminishing sugar industry within Barbados was most directly related to their soil, which began to wear out. Barbados also faced problems with insects and drought. The life of those who worked on the plantations was not good. They endured hot temperatures, disease, and were at the mercy of their master. On almost every sugar-producing island, the death rate was higher than the birth rate, and it was known that those that worked on the sugar producing islands were up for a much harsher life than those taken to places like North America. Since the slaves died too quickly to reproduce, the plantation owners were constantly forced to bring more slaves in.

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