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Tourists pour into
from all over the world, drawn by the delightful climate, the big blue sea and brilliant white sandy beaches. Many of them rarely stray far from their hotels and guesthouses, but those who make an effort find a proud island scattered with an impressive range of historic sites and, away from the mostly gently rolling landscape, dramatic scenery in hidden caves, cliffs and gullies.
For more than three centuries Barbados was a
and retains something of a British feel: the place names, the cricket, horse-racing and polo, Anglican parish churches, and even a hilly district known as Scotland. But the Britishness is often exaggerated, for this is a distinctly
West Indian country
, covered by a patchwork of sugarcane fields and dotted with rum shops, where calypso is the music of choice and flying fish the favoured food.
The people of Barbados, known as
, take great pride in their tiny island of 430 square kilometres and 250,000 people, which has produced writers like George Lamming, calypsonians like the Mighty Gabby and cricket players including the great Sir Gary Sobers, who have for decades had an influence way out of proportion to the size of their home country.
plays a major part in the country's economy and revenues have been put to good use. The infrastructure and public transport are first-rate and there is no sign of the poverty that continues to bedevil some Caribbean islands. Development has mostly been pretty discreet, many of the facilities are Bajan-owned, there are no private beaches and no sign of American fast-food franchises.
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