Barbados is an island nation located towards the east of the Caribbean Sea and the west of the Atlantic Ocean, part of the eastern islands of the Lesser Antilles, with the nations of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines being its closest neighbors. The island is 430 km2 (166 square miles), and is primarily low, with some hills in the island's interior. It is located 13º north of the Equator and 59º west of the Prime Meridian, about 434.5 km (270 miles) northeast of Venezuela.
Barbados is mainly composed of coral and limestone. It is tropical with constant tradewinds and consists of some marshes and mangrove swamps. Some parts of the island's interior are also dotted with large sugarcane estates and wide pastures with many good views to the sea.
|National motto: Pride and Industry|
|Governor General||Sir Clifford Husbands|
|Prime Minister||Owen Arthur|
- % water
| Ranked 181st |
|Population|| Ranked 170th
| From the UK|
November 30, 1966
| GDP (PPP)
|| Ranked 170th
|Currency||Barbadian dollar (BBD)|
|Time zone||UTC -4|
|National anthem||In Plenty and In Time of Need|
Barbados has one of the highest standards of living and literacy rates in the world and is currently according to the UN's UNDP, the #1 developing country in the world. The island is a major tourist destination.
Table of contents
Main article: History of Barbados
The earliest inhabitants of Barbados were Amerindian nomads. Three waves of migrants moved north toward North America. The first wave was of the Saladoid-Barrancoid group, who were farmers, fishermen, and ceramists that arrived by canoe from South America (Venezuela's Orinoco Valley) around 350 CE. The Arawak people were the second wave of migrants, arriving from South America around 800. Arawak settlements on the island include Stroud Point, Chandler Bay, Saint Luke's Gully, and Mapp's Cave. According to accounts by descendants of the aboriginal Arawak tribes on other local islands, the original name for Barbados was Ichirouganaim. In the 13th century, the Caribs arrived from South America in the third wave, displacing both the Arawak and the Salodoid-Barrancoid. For the next few centries, the Caribs—like the Arawak and the Salodoid-Barrancoid—lived in isolation on the island.
The name "Barbados" comes from a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos in 1536, who originally called the island Os Barbados ("The Bearded Ones"), upon seeing the appearance of the island's fig trees, whose long hanging aerial roots he thought resembled beards. Between Campos' sighting in 1536 and 1550, Spanish conquistadors seized many Caribs on Barbados and used them as slave labor on plantations. Other Caribs fled the island, moving elsewhere.
British sailors who landed on Barbados in the 1620s at the site of present-day Holetown on the Caribbean coast found the island uninhabited. From the arrival of the first British settlers in 1627–1628 until independence in 1966, Barbados was under uninterrupted British control. Nevertheless, Barbados always enjoyed a large measure of local autonomy. Its House of Assembly began meeting in 1639. Among the initial important British figures was Sir William Courten.
As the sugar industry developed into the main commercial enterprise, Barbados was divided into large plantation estates which replaced the small holdings of the early British settlers. Some of the displaced farmers relocated to British colonies in North America, most notably South Carolina. To work the plantations, slaves were brought from Africa; the slave trade ceased a few years before the abolition of slavery throughout the British empire in 1834.
Local politics were dominated by plantation owners and merchants of British descent. It was not until the 1930s that a movement for political rights was begun by the descendants of emancipated slaves. One of the leaders of this movement, Sir Grantley Adams, founded the Barbados Labour Party in 1938.
Progress toward more democratic government for Barbados was made in 1951, when universal adult suffrage was introduced. This was followed by steps toward increased self-government, and in 1961, Barbados achieved internal autonomy.
From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was one of 10 members of the West Indies Federation, and Sir Grantley Adams served as its first and only prime minister. When the federation was terminated, Barbados reverted to its former status as a self-governing colony. Following several attempts to form another federation composed of Barbados and the Leeward and Windward Islands, Barbados negotiated its own independence at a constitutional conference with the United Kingdom in June 1966. After years of peaceful and democratic progress, Barbados became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations on November 30, 1966.
Main article: Politics of Barbados
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is head of state, and is represented by a Governor General. In Barbados the Queen is styled "By the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth." The present government is proposing that Barbados become a republic within the Commonwealth, with a ceremonial president replacing the Queen.
Executive power however is in the hands of the prime minister and his cabinet. The prime minister is usually the leader of the winning party in the elections for the House of Assembly, the lower house of parliament, which has 28 seats. Its members are elected every five years. The Senate has 21 members, and its members are appointed by the governor general.
Barbados is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Main article: Geography of Barbados
Barbados is a relatively flat island, rising gently to central highland region, the highest point being Mount Hillaby at 336 m. It is located in a slightly eccentric position in the Atlantic Ocean compared to other Caribbean islands. The climate is tropical, with a rainy season from June to October.
Though one might assume the island deals with severe tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season it actually does not. The island gets brushed or hit every 3.09 years and the average number of years between direct hurricane hits is once every 26.6 years.
In the parish of Saint Michael lies Barbados' chief city Bridgetown, which is the nation's capital. Locally Bridgetown is sometimes referred to as "The City" or "B-town". Other towns include Holetown, in the parish of Saint James and Speightstown, in the parish of Saint Peter.
The island is 23 km (14 miles) at its widest point, and about 34 km (21 miles) long.
Main article: Parishes of Barbados
Main article: Economy of Barbados
Historically, the economy of Barbados had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but production in recent years has been diversified into the manufacturing and tourism sectors. Offshore finance and information services have become increasingly important foreign exchange earners, and there is also a healthy interest into the island's light manufacturing sector. In the last ten years the Government has been seen as business-friendly and economically sound. Since the late 1990's the island has seen an increasing construction boom, the island began to see new hotels, redevelopments, new homes, office complexes, condos, and mansions being developed across the island.
The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, encourage direct foreign investment, and privatize remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment has been reduced from high levels of around 14 percent in the past to only under 10%.
The economy contracted in 2001 and 2002 due to slowdowns in tourism, consumer spending and the impact of the September 11, 2001 attacks, but the economy rebounded in 2003 and showed growth for 2004. Traditional trading partners include Canada, the Caribbean Community (especially Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Business links and investment flows have become substantial, as of 2003 the island saw from Canada CAN$25 Billion in investment holdings, placing it as one of Canada's top five destinations of Canadian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Canadian Outward Foreign Direct Investment to the World. Businessman Eugene Melnyk of Toronto in Ontario, Canada is said to be Barbados' richest permanent resident.
Characteristics and tourist information
The island of Barbados has a single major airport, the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) (IATA identifier BGI). The Grantley Adams Airport receives daily flights by several major airlines, from points around the globe, as well as several smaller regional commercial airlines and charters. The airport serves as the main air-transportation hub for the Eastern Caribbean. The airport is currently under-going a US$100 Million upgrade and expansion.
The island is well developed and there are many local quality-hotels known internationally which offer world-class accommodations. Timeshares are available, and many of the smaller local hotels and private vilas which dot the island have space available if booked months in advanced. The southern and western coasts of Barbados are popular, with its calm light blue Caribbean sea and fine white and pink sandy beaches. Along the islands' east coast the Atlantic Ocean side are tumbling-waves which are perfect for surfing, but a little bit risky with its under-tow currents.
Shopping districts are another treat in Barbados, with its ample amount of duty-free shopping. There is also a festive nightlife available in mainly tourist areas like the Saint Lawrence Gap. Other attractions include wildlife reserves, jewelry stores, scuba diving, helicopter rides, golf, festivals, sight seeing, cave exploration, exotic drinks and fine clothes shopping.
Attractions, Landmarks and Points of Interest
Name / Parish Location:
- Christ Church
- St. Andrew
- St. James
- St. Joseph
- St. Lucy
- St. Michael
- St. Peter
- St. Philip
- St. Thomas
For cities and towns see: List of cities in Barbados
Transportation on the island is good, with public taxis, called "ZRs" (pronounced "Zed-R")s, traveling to most points on the island. These public taxis as they are known can at times be crowded, but will usually take the more scenic routes to destinations. These buses generally depart from the capital Bridgetown or from Speightstown in the northern part of the island.
Buses are abundant in Barbados. There are three bus companies running seven days a week, and a ride on any of them costs $1.50 BDS. The two smaller buses can make change; the larger, Barbados Transport bus cannot. Many routes require a connection in Bridgetown. However, if you wait long enough, you might find a bus that bypasses the capital and takes you right to your destination. Drivers are happy to help you get where you're going. Unfortunately, they are generally not willing to tell you how or when to use the competing bus companies, even if they're your only choice.
In a bus terminal (sometimes just a parking lot full of buses), it is normal for a driver's assistant to attempt to escort you to his vehicle. This can sometimes cause arguments between drivers, because every driver will want you on his bus; nevertheless, it is prudent to stay with the first person who talks to you (though the arguments seem to be in the spirit of friendly competition).
Some hotels also provide visitors with shuttles to points of interest on the island. Hotel shuttles generally leave right outside of the hotel's lobby. The island also has an abundance of taxis-for-hire, visitors staying on the island may find this an expensive option, most hired-taxis will take you to points of interest but they can be expensive, visitors also have the option of car and vehicles rentals in Barbados, presuming they have a valid drivers license from their native country.
Main article: Demographics of Barbados
Between 80 to 90 percent of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as Bajan) are of African descent, mostly descendants of the slaves and workers on the sugar plantations. The remainder of the population includes small groups of Europeans and Asians, including the Redlegs. The official language is English and while most Barbadians are Protestant Christians, chiefly of the Anglican Church, there are other Protestant, Roman Catholic, Hindu and Muslim minorities.
Main article: Culture of Barbados
The influence of the English on Barbados is more noticeable than on other islands in the West Indies. A good example of this is the island's national sport: cricket. Barbados has brought forth several great cricket players, including Garfield Sobers and Frank Worrell.
Citizens are officially called Barbadian, however residents of Barbados colloquially refer to themselves or the products of the country as "Bajan". The term "Bajan", may have come from a localized pronunciation of the word Barbadian which at times can sound more like "Bar-bajan". The term Barbadian, is used less frequently than is "Bajan".
The largest Carnival cultural events which take place in Barbados are the Congaline Festival and Crop Over Festival as known internationally.
As is the case in many of the other Caribbean and Latin American countries, Carnival is an important event for many people on the island, as well as the thousands of tourists that flock to the island to participate in the annual events.
The smaller of the two events is the Congaline Festival, which takes place during the last week of March. The Crop Over Carnival which includes various musical competitions, and other traditional activities usually kicks into high gear from the beginning of July, and ends in its entirety during the first week of August.
The Crop Over festival closes with a large parade in the final days of the festivities.
- See also: Music of Barbados
The national flower is the Poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw. , Barbados Pride), which grows across the island of Barbados.
The Golden Shield in the Coat of Arms carries two "Pride of Barbados" flowers and the "Bearded" Fig Tree (ficus Citrifolia) which was common on the island at the time of its settlement by the British and contributed to Barbados being so named.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms depicts two animals which are supporting the shield,
On the left: is a dolphin (dexter); symbolic of the fishing industry and sea-going past of Barbados. On the right: is a Pelican (sinister); symbolic of a small island named Pelican Island that once existed off the coast of Bridgetown.
Above the shield is the helmet of Barbados with an extended arm clutching two sugar-cane stalks. The "cross" formation made by the cane stalks represents the cross which Saint Andrew was crucified. On the base of the Coat of Arms reads "Pride and Industry" in reference to the motto of the country.
- CIA World Factbook – GDP – (PPP) per capita:
- Economist, The, Worldwide quality-of-life index:
- Heritage Foundation/The Wall Street Journal, Index of Economic Freedom countries:
- Reporters without borders:
- Save the Children, State of the World’s Mothers:
- Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index:
- UN, Human Development Index (HDI):
- 2004: ranked 29th out of 177 countries 29th (3rd in the Americas, after Canada and the United States
- 2003: ranked 27th out of 175 countries 27th
- 2002: ranked 31st out of 173 countries 31st
- 2001: ranked 31st out of 162 countries 31st
- 2000: ranked 30th out of 174 countries 30th
- 1999: ranked 29th out of 174 countries 29th
- 1998: N/A
- World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report/Growth Competitiveness Index:
- World Bank:
- Communications in Barbados
- Foreign relations of Barbados
- List of Barbadians
- Military of Barbados
- Transportation in Barbados
- List of cities in Barbados
- Barbados Government Information Network – The official website of the government of Barbados.
- Hurricane History of Barbados
- Official Website of the Parliament of Barbados
- The official website of the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia
- Website of the Central Bank of Barbados
- Min. of Foreign Affairs – All About Barbados
- Points and places of Interest when in Barbados
- Barbados Vacation Travel Guide & Business Directory
|Countries in West Indies|
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago
Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Navassa Island | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands
|Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago|
|Associate members: Anguilla | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | British Virgin Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands|
|Observer status: Aruba | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Mexico | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Venezuela|
|¹ member of the community but not the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy.|