The question is, what are the People of Barbados called? Some say Bajans, others say Barbadians, and many just say Barbados People. As they say in Barbados, it does not matter Bajan or Barbadians because “All We is ONE.” That covers African-Bajans, British-Bajans, Colonials, Irish-Bjans, Redlegs, and Asian-Bajans.
This blog examines the ethnicity, race, religion, language, ancestry, and defining characteristics of the people of Barbados. This is a supplement to the book Rogues in Paradise and extends the discussion of the Barbadian and Bajan identity.
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Barbados Population Statistics
92.4 % of the population is black.
3.1% are mixed race.
2.7% are white,
1.3% South Asian.
The remaining 0.4% includes East Asians (0.1%) and Middle Easterners (0.1%) and jewish (.o5%).
The majority of Black Bajans are Afro-Bajan (90%) – The white population is most of English, Scottish, and Irish descent, with some Portuguese and other Europeans.
Barbados is not a melting pot. People do not have to be the same, look, believe, pray, dance, or act the same. Individuality is prised in this tiny island that stands apart. Yet the people of Barbados have things in common. Bajans are Friendly, Caring, and Fun. This makes them excellent hosts and is why Barbados has one of the highest rates of return visitors.
Ethnic Breakdown of The People of Barbados
About 90% of Barbadians, or Bajans, are of Afro-Caribbean descent. The rest of the population comprises Europeans (4%). They are mostly from Ireland and the United Kingdom. Descendants of Irish slaves and prisoners imported to Barbados are included among the Irish Barbadians. They are known as the Redlegs. There are also Asian, mainly Indian and Chinese residents and citizens. There is a vibrant Jewish community of descendants who arrived in the early 17th century. Later, Lebanese and Syrian traders emigrated to Barbados, following trade opportunities and adding to the multicultural nature of the nations.
The ethnic breakdown of the people of Barbados is primarily black (92.4%) or mixed (3.1%). 2.7% of the population is white, and 1.3% South Asian. The remaining 0.4% of the population includes East Asians (0.1%) and Middle Easterners (0.1%).
Another aspect of heritage is the Region of Origins. Most Bajan Africans were from the more peaceful areas.
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Bajan African Origins
Barbados had its own preference for the origins of the slaves. They insisted on an equal number of men and women and the Royal African Company specific Origins of people shipped, seeking to get homogenous and effective workers.
The regional breakdown, which is a rough estimate, is:
Bight of Biafra (62,000s) – mostly from Igbo, Ibibio and Efik.
Gold Coast (59,000) – primarily Akan.
Bight of Benin (45,000) – Yoruba, Ewe and Fon;
Central Africa (29,000) – Kongo.
Windward Coast (13,000)
Sierra Leone (9,000).
Source Homogeneous origins – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Barbadian
Middle Passage Trade
Barbados was the first island on the Middle Passage. Many slaves were shipped via Barbados to other islands and north America. The Source Map and blog linked above provide details on how slaves were acquired and more about the people involved.
Slavery In Africa
As noted above, the Bight of Biafra supplied the largest percentage of slaves to the new world. Barbados slavers favoured the Igbo people from Biafra. It had three Igbo Kingdoms, Nri, Independents, and Arochukwu. Arochukwu was a waring state that raided villages and put captives to work as indentured servants, a kind of apprenticeship. Anyone could be kidnapped or captured; it did not matter if you were a Noble or a peasant. Arochukwu had no penal system, and citizens who committed minor crimes and misdemeanors got the same treatment. This had nothing to do with chattel slavery. Olaudah Equiano, kidnapped at 10, lived ad worked as a slave with people, who he says, treated him like one of the family.
The Jewish People of Barbados
The Jewish people of Barbados arrived in 1628. They fled for their lives from Brazil when the Portuguese started the Inquisition. With a scarcity of arable land, these Sephardic Jews could not farm. They were traders and peddlers who brought trade skills and expertise to the island. Some applied technology and expertise to enhance sugar and rum production. Their work helped Barbados become a world leader in sugar production. While only 0.05% of the population is Jewish, the Jewish people of Barbados have made a significant impact on the culture and heritage of the island.
The Book Rogues in Paradise traces two waves of Jewish immigrants. The first were the Sephardic Jews fleeing from the Portuguese Inquisition in Brazil. Later, the Ashkenazi Jews from Poland and other European countries came to escape Nazi persecution. Sir Paul Altman, an outstanding businessman is featured in the book for his work in restoring Barbados heritage buildings and his contribution to the island culture and way of life. Learn more – Get a free sample of the book here>>>
English is the official language of Barbados. However, it has taken on a distinctive Bajan dialect, the common parlance of the streets, rum shops, and informal settings. White, Black, Jewish, and all mixtures of people may speak Bajan in casual settings.
Bajan is English broken down into a fun vernacular speech. It is usually accompanied by gesticulation, emphatic body language, and punctuation sounds like; sucking teeth and stupsing lips. The dialect is loose and flowing, encouraging free association and exciting turns of phrase. It defies all rules of grammar and correctness. Raw Bajan can be difficult to understand to the untrained ear and is often a complete mystery to an English-speaking foreigner. However, you cannot mistake emotions.
The lifestyle, diet, and outdoor living gave Barbados a unique distinction of having one of the highest per capita occurrences of centenarians on earth, which only Japan equals.
The population is approximately 288,136 as of Friday, September 2, 2022, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data. The population is growing at a rate of 0.18%. Barbados welcomes those who want to work remotely or reside long-term in a fun sunshine island with excellent facilities and connections. Expectations are that the population will peak at just under 300,000 by 2030 and then decline.
A decrease in population density is good as the island current is the 4th most densely populated country in the Americas and ranks 15th in the world. It is the 10th most populous of the Caribbean islands. Source: https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/barbados-population
The majority, 75.6% of the People of Barbados are Christian, 20.6% have no religion, and 2.6% are non-Christian.
The latest census from the world population review provides the following breakdown of the religious denomination on the island.
- Anglicanism constitutes the largest religious group, with 23.9% of the population. Pentecostals are the second largest group (19.5%).
- The next largest group are Seventh-day Adventists, 5.9% of the population, followed by Methodists (4.2%). 3.8% of the population are Roman Catholics.
- Other Christians include Wesleyans (3.4%), Nazarenes (3.2%), Church of God (2.4%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (2.0%), Baptists (1.8), Moravians (1.2%), Brethren (0.5%), the Salvationists (0.4%) and Latter-day Saints (0.1%).
- The number of non-Christians is small.
- (0.7%) of the population are Muslims, most of whom are immigrants or descendants of Indian immigrants from the Indian state of Gujarat.
- There are three mosques and an Islamic center.
- The Rastafarians at (1.0% of the population) were introduced to Barbados in 1975. More on African Mythology like Voodoo and Obea– Read Rogues in Paradise below
- Hindus(0.5%), Jews (0.05%), the Baha (0.04%), and Buddhists.
As noted above, the Jewish people have contributed significantly to the island. In 1654, the Jewish community built the Nidhe Israel Synagogue, and by 1674 some 300 Jews lived in Barbados. Source: Jewish Berkshires
The Book Rogues in Paradise
In the beginning, there are anecdotal stories of real people. They range from street vendors, artists, and everyday people to outstanding personalities, lights, and dames. They are full of life, fun, witty, and wise. You will laugh at their turn of phrase and their antics. You will be moved by their spirit and resolve and want to know more about the underlying nature and its cause. The beginning is just half of the story.
All parts feature people. The characters that start the book pop up to comment on the history and lifestyle of Barbados. Every chapter features a person, an event, or a place of significance. And every story is a piece of the puzzle that unravels history and heritage, explaining the formidable character and resolve of an exceptional nation and people.
The conclusion puts it all into perspective, illustrating how this Caribbean island stands apart physically and ideologically with a distinct culture and personality.
Summary Video of Bajan/Barbadian Heritage
Bajan Demographics: https://www.gov.bb/Visit-Barbados/demographics
Rogues In Paradise Book: -Table of Content for Barbados People