After independence from the United Kingdom in
1966, Barbados evolved from an agricultural society in
which the sugar industry dominated, to a service-based
economy with tourism in the center. The country is
characterized by political and social stability. There
is no clear political difference between the two parties
that have been turned around for power.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Barbados. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The Democratic Workers' Party (DLP)
led Barbados from the early 1960s and won the election
held when full independence was achieved. DLP leader
Errol Barrow became the country's first prime minister.
Barrow initiated a series of reforms, including in the
education system, as well as embarked on an
industrialization program and improved workers'
DLP also won in 1971 but the economic downturn
diminished the government's popularity. The 1976
election led the Barbados Workers' Party
(BLP) to form a government and BLP
founder Grantley Adams son Tom Adams became the new head
of government (see Older History). He led the BLP to
re-election in 1981 but died in a heart attack before
the second term of office expired.
In the 1986 parliamentary elections, DLP and Errol
Barrow regained government power with support from the
black working class. Barrow had the chance to cut taxes
and increase public spending before unexpectedly dying a
year after the election. His successor Erskine Sandiford
soon got into trouble when the finance minister jumped
off in protest of the government's economic policy. He
brought with him three other MPs and formed a new party,
which never had any impact.
In the early 1990s, the tourism industry, the
country's most important industry since the 1970s,
suffered a sharp decline while sugar production fell.
DLP still managed to win the elections in 1991. But
voter support declined due to dissatisfaction with
financial austerity programs and tax increases, measures
that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) set as a
condition for providing the country with loans.
Although the economy began to turn upwards, DLP lost
power in the 1994 elections. BLP prevailed by far and
its young leader, economist Owen Arthur, became prime
minister. Arthur's government continued its efforts to
get the economy on its feet and reduce record-high
The good economic situation during the last years of
the 1990s contributed to BLP winning both 1999 and 2003.
During his time in power, Owen Arthur managed to
bring down unemployment and improve the country's
economy. He also became popular for his quest to
strengthen national identity. New national celebrations
and heroes were introduced. The former Trafalgar Square
square in the capital Bridgetown was renamed National
Heroes Square and the statue with Lord Nelson was
replaced by Errol Barrow, the father of independence.
Prior to the 2008 election, BLP was considered to
benefit from good economic growth, low unemployment and
low crime. Despite the lost party and Owen Arthur got to
leave after 14 years as prime minister. New head of
government became DLP leader David Thomas, who promised,
among other things, to lower the high cost of living.