Barbados was settled by the English in 1624 and the influence of Britain continued uninterrupted for centuries to follow. The culture of Barbados is a blend of West African and British cultures. English is the official language, a consequence of the British colonial rule. However, any ‘Bajan’, another name for Barbadian, would attest that it is in the use of Bajan dialect that they really express Barbadian culture.
The island's British influence commenced nearly four centuries ago in 1625, when Captain John Powell claimed it in the name of King James I. The first British colonists arrived two years later, founding a settlement of 80 civilians and 10 African slaves. From inception, Barbados adopted the British style of government, creating a Parliamentary democracy in 1639. During the colonial period, all members of the Legislative Assembly were members of the elite-plantocracy.
After Britain abolished slavery in 1838, non-whites quickly began to play a role in the island's government, with the first non-white member elected in 1843.
Barbados gained full political independence from Britain in 1966, but chose to retain its traditional parliamentary democracy governmental style and remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The love of the sport of cricket continues to be reflected as an essential part of Barbados' culture. The most popular sport in Barbados, its cricket team has won numerous regional titles. Many players on the team go on to greater success on the West Indies team to compete in international games. One of the most highly regarded cricket players of all time, Sir Garfield Sobers, is a Barbados native.