Archaeological evidence shows that the Arawaks, a people indigenous to the Orinoco River area of Venezuela, inhabited Barbados from about 600BC. They were later driven out by the Caribs, who also migrated north from the same area but who did not settle on the island.
The Europeans knew about the existence of Barbados since the 16th century. However, the island was not settled until 1627 when a group of Englishmen established a formal colony and planted tobacco and cotton for export to England. After 1645, these crops were replaced by sugar cane.
From early on, Barbados enjoyed trading relationships and other ties with the United States and later Canada. In 1670, Barbadian immigrants helped to found the State of South Carolina and its capital city Charleston. What is more, Barbados bears the distinction of being the only country outside of the United States ever visited by George Washington who came to the island in 1752.
In 1966, Barbados became a fully independent sovereign nation. The island is English-speaking and has remained a member of the British Commonwealth.