About Barbados [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Barbados; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela

Climate

Tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Terrain

Relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region

Elevation

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Hillaby 336 m

Geo Notes

Easternmost Caribbean island

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Barbados

Capital City

name: Bridgetown
geographic coordinates: 13 06 N, 59 37 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions

11 parishes and 1 city*; Bridgetown*, Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas

Natuaral Hazards

Infrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides

Environmental Issues

Pollution of coastal waters from waste disposal by ships; soil erosion; illegal solid waste disposal threatens contamination of aquifers

Life Expectancy

total population: 74.14 years
male: 71.88 years
female: 76.42 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.012 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

English

Religions Practiced

Protestant 63.4% (Anglican 28.3%, Pentecostal 18.7%, Methodist 5.1%, other 11.3%), Roman Catholic 4.2%, other Christian 7%, other 4.8%, none or unspecified 20.6% (2008 est.)

Legal System

English common law; no judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

National Holiday

Independence Day, 30 November (1966)

Illicit Drugs

One of many Caribbean transshipment points for narcotics bound for Europe and the US; offshore financial center

Telephone System

general assessment: island-wide automatic telephone system
domestic: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 50 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density approaching 125 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-246; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad; satellite earth stations - 1 (Intelsat -Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia (2009)

Broadcast Media

Government-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) operates the lone terrestrial television station; CBC also operates a multi-channel cable TV subscription service; roughly a dozen radio stations, consisting of a CBC-operated network alongside privately-owned radio stations, in operation (2007)

Background

The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. Slaves worked the sugar plantations established on the island until 1834 when slavery was abolished. The economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th century. The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance.

Economy Overview

Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism with about three-quarters of GDP and 80% of exports being attributed to services. Growth has rebounded since 2003, bolstered by increases in construction projects and tourism revenues, reflecting its success in the higher-end segment, but the sector faced declining revenues in 2009 with the global economic downturn. The country enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners and thrive from having the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and a relatively highly educated workforce. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises. The public debt-to-GDP ratio rose to over 100% in 2009, largely because a sharp slowdown in tourism and financial services led to a wide budget deficit.

National Anthem

name: "The National Anthem of Barbados"
lyrics/music: Irving BURGIE/C. Van Roland EDWARDS
note: adopted 1966; the anthem is also known as "In Plenty and In Time of Need"

Barbados location map
Size

total: 430 sq km
land: 430 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Barbados flag
Population

285,653 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Barbadian(s) or Bajan (colloquial)
adjective: Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)

Ethnic Groups

black 93%, white 3.2%, mixed 2.6%, East Indian 1%, other 0.2% (2000 census)

HIV/AIDS Rate

1.2% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

30 November 1966 (from the UK)

Government Type

Parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

188,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

1,508 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.bb

Number Airports

1 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)

Roadways

total: 1,600 km
paved: 1,600 km (2004)

Ports & Terminals

Bridgetown

National Budget

revenues: $847 million (including grants)
expenditures: $886 million (2000 est.)

Account Balance

-$254 million (2007 est.)

Exchange Rates

Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar - NA (2007), 2 (2006), 2 (2005), 2 (2004), 2 (2003)

Inflation Rate

5.5% (2007 est.)

Main Industries

Tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Agricultural Products

Sugarcane, vegetables, cotton

Labor Force

175,000 (2007 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 10%
industry: 15%
services: 75% (1996 est.)

Unemployment Rate

10.7% (2003 est.)

GDP (USD Parity)

$6.148 billion (2009 est.)
$6.506 billion (2008 est.)
$6.519 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$21,600 (2009 est.)
$22,900 (2008 est.)
$23,100 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Below Poverty

NA%