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Barbados - People

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 291,000 (July 2015 estimate). About 90% of Barbados' population is of African descent, 4% European descent, and 6% Asian or mixed. Barbados' population growth rate has been very low, less than 1% since the 1960s, largely due to family planning efforts and a high emigration rate.

The Badians used to claim that they had the longest pedigrees, and their cats the longest tails, of any existing people and cats whatever. This statement, however, must be taken on trust, for the world at large is not sufficiently interested to measure either the tails or the pedigrees.

It has been carefully cultivated, and the cane fields and pasture lands have the appearance of a well-kept garden. Even in the seventeenth century it was described as "the most populous, rich, and industrious spot on the earth." It has maintained its character of being both populous and industrious. The population as of 1900 was estimated at 186,000, or 1,120 to the square mile; about 17,000 (or less than 10 percent) are white; the remainder were of African descent. The natural increase of the native population had always rendered coolie or any other immigration unnecessary.

There was still a displaced social subgroup of extremely poor whites in Barbados who had not been fully assimilated into society. Descendants of the exploited and marginalized white labor class that had emigrated from Britain in the early colonial period, they had quickly been replaced as an economic group by African slaves, who had been brought to the New World as an inexpensive source oflabor. Known as "red legs", the subgroup lived off the sea and subsistence agriculture and eventually became entrenched social outcasts, who had little expectation of becoming members of modern society.

According to the 2010 census, the most recently available, approximately 76 percent of the population is Christian, with the two largest groups Anglicans (23.9 percent) and Pentecostals (19.5 percent), followed by Seventh-day Adventists (5.9 percent), Methodists (4.2 percent), and Roman Catholics (3.8 percent). There are small numbers of Baptists, Moravians, Wesleyans, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Approximately 20.6 percent of respondents did not identify a religious affiliation. Other religious groups, which together constitute less than 3 percent of the population, include Muslims, Jews, Rastafarians, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais, and Jehovahs Witnesses. The Barbados Muslim Association states there are 3,000 Muslims.

Rastafarians stated their objection to the governments enforcement of the prohibition on marijuana use, which they said was integral to their religious rituals. They reported extra scrutiny from police and immigration officials and complained that the government required them to remove head coverings in identification photos and at security checkpoints. Rastafarians stated they faced discrimination in schools. According to the Caribbean Rastafarian Organization, schools required vaccinations for enrollment, which the organization stated violated their religious beliefs.

Muslims said they objected to a government policy requiring women to remove their hijab for identification and passport photographs. The Barbados Muslim Association asked the government to change its practices to permit head coverings in identification photographs.

English is the official language of Barbados, and is used for communications, administration, and public services all over the island. In its capacity as the official language of the country, the standard of English tends to conform to the vocabulary, pronunciations, spellings, and conventions akin to, but not exactly the same as, those of British English.

A regional variant of English referred to locally as Bajan is spoken by most Barbadians in everyday life especially in informal settings. In its full-fledged form, Bajan sounds markedly different from the Standard English heard on the island. The degree of intelligibility between Bajan and general English depends on the level of creolized vocabulary and idioms. A Bajan speaker may be completely unintelligible to an English speaker from another country. Bajan is influenced by other Caribbean English dialects.

Public spending on health was four per cent of GDP in 2012. Barbados has a national health service and the general health profile and life expectancy of a developed country. Infant mortality was 13 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (74 in 1960). In 2013, 0.9 per cent of people aged 1549 were HIV positive.

The population pyramid for 2010 showed a flattening of the slope compared to that of 1990, reflecting a further aging of the population. Populations in age groups 04 years old and 4044 years old were higher in 1990 than in 2010; the population older than 45 years old showed increases in 2010, compared with the figure for 1990. Barbados continued to attract migrants from the Caribbean region and beyond. In absolute numbers, infant deaths decreased in the 20062010 period, dropping from 57 in 2006 to 34 in 2010. The total fertility rate remained stable between 2000 and 2010, at 1.6 children per woman and 1.7, respectively. Life expectancy at birth was 77.7 years in 2010, a slight increase over the 2006 figure of 76.8 years.

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