Although it was probably originally inhabited by Arawaks, it was uninhabited when the English expeditionaries first settled there in 1627 (1605, according to local tradition). Barbados remained a British colony until independence was granted in 1966. During the 19th cent. it was the administrative headquarters of the Windward Islands, but in 1885 it became a separate colony. It later was a member of the short-lived West Indies Federation (1958–62). The island became an independent associated state of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1966. The bicameral parliament consists of a 17-member Senate appointed by the governor-general and a 17-member elected House of Representatives. The Democratic Labor party (DLP) held power from 1986 until 1994, when the Barbados Labor party (BLP) won a legislative majority; Owen Arthur became prime minister. Arthur and the BLP retained power after the 1999 and 2003 elections. In 2008 the DLP defeated the BLP, and David Thompson became prime minister. Thompson died in 2010 and was succeeded as prime minister by Freundel Stuart. The DLP and Stuart remained in power after the 2013 elections. In 2018 the BLP swept every seat, and BLP leader Mia Mottley became prime minister.

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