Coordinates: 13°10′N 59°33′W / 13.167°N 59.55°W / 13.167; -59.55

Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Pride and Industry"
Anthem: "National Anthem of Barbados"
Royal anthem"God Save the Queen"
(and largest city)
13°06′N 59°37′W / 13.1°N 59.617°W / 13.1; -59.617
Official language(s) English
Recognised regional languages Bajan
Ethnic groups  80% Afro-Bajan, 16% Asian and Multiracial, 4% European
Demonym Barbadian, Bajan (colloquial)
Government Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy
 -  Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Acting Governor-General Elliot Belgrave[1]
 -  Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper House Senate
 -  Lower House House of Assembly
 -  from the United Kingdom 30 November 1966 
 -  Total 431 km2 (200th)
166 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2009 estimate 284,589[2] (180th)
 -  2001 census 250,012 
 -  Density 660/km2 (15th)
1,704/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $6.227 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $22,512[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $3.963 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $14,326[3] 
HDI (2011) increase 0.788[4] (Very High) (47nd)
Currency Barbadian dollar ($) (BBD)
Time zone Eastern Caribbean (UTC-4)
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code BB
Internet TLD .bb
Calling code +1 (spec. +1-246)

Barbados (Listeni/bɑrˈbdɒs/ or /bɑrˈbds/) is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and as much as 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, amounting to 431 square kilometres (166 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea;[5] therein, it is about 168 kilometres (104 mi) east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and 400 kilometres (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Barbados was initially visited by the Spanish around the late 1400s to early 1500s and first appears on a Spanish map from 1511.[6] The Spanish explorers may have plundered the island of whatever native peoples resided therein to become slaves.[6] Thereafter, the Portuguese in 1536 then visited, but they too left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1625. They took possession of it in the name of 'James I, King of England'. Two years later in 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England and it became an English and later British colony.[7]

Barbados has an estimated population of 284,589 people,[8] with around 80,000 living in or around Bridgetown, the largest city and the country's capital.[9] In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.[10] Barbados is one of the Caribbean's leading tourist destinations and is one of the most developed islands in the region, with an HDI number of 0.788. In 2010 Barbados also ranked in the top 3 in The Americas on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index beating out Chile in 3rd, and coming after Canada in the top spot.[11]



According to accounts by descendants of the indigenous Arawakan-speaking tribes in other regional areas, the original name for Barbados was Ichirouganaim, with possible translations including "Red Land with White Teeth",[12] "Redstone island with teeth outside (reefs)",[13] or simply "Teeth".[14][15][16]

The reason for the later name Barbados is controversial. According to some sources The Portuguese, en route to Brazil,[17][18] were the first Europeans to come upon the island, while others say it was the Spanish which gave the Spanish name "Los Barbudos". The word Barbados means "bearded ones", but it is a matter of conjecture whether "bearded" refers to the long, hanging roots of the bearded fig-tree (Ficus citrifolia), indigenous to the island; to allegedly bearded Caribs once inhabiting the island; or, more fancifully, to the foam spraying over the outlying reefs giving the impression of a beard. In 1519, a map produced by the Genoese mapmaker Visconte Maggiolo showed and named Barbados in its correct position.

Other names or nicknames associated with Barbados include "Bim", "Bimshire" and "da Rock". The origin is uncertain but several theories exist. The National Cultural Foundation of Barbados says that "Bim" was a word commonly used by slaves and that it derives from the phrase "bi mu"[19] or either ("bem", "Ndi bem", "Nwanyi ibem" or "Nwoke ibem")[20] from an Igbo phrase meaning "my people". In colloquial or literary contexts, "Bim" can also take a more deific tone, referring to the "goddess" Barbados.[citation needed]

The word Bim and Bimshire are recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary and the Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionaries. Another possible source for "Bim" is reported to be in the Agricultural Reporter of 25 April 1868, The Rev. N Greenidge (father of one of the island's most famous scholars, Abel Hendy Jones Greenidge) suggested the listing of Bimshire as a county of England. Expressly named were "Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Bimshire".[20] Lastly in the Daily Argosy (of Demerara i.e. Guyana) of 1652 it referred to Bim as a possible corruption of the word "Byam", who was a Royalist leader against the Parliamentarians. That source suggested the followers of Byam became known as Bims and became a word for all Barbadians.[20]


Early history

Amerindian settlement of Barbados dates to about the 4th to 7th century AD, by a group known as the Saladoid-Barrancoid.[21] In the 13th century, the Caribs arrived from South America.[22]

The Portuguese briefly claimed Barbados from the mid-16th to the 17th centuries, and may have seized the Arawaks on Barbados and used them as slave labour. Other Arawaks are believed to have fled to neighbouring islands. Apart from possibly displacing the Caribs, the Portuguese left little impact and by the 1610s left for South America, leaving the island uninhabited. Some Arawaks arrived from Guyana in the 1800s and continue to live in Barbados.[22][23][24]

Colonial rule

From about 1600 the English, French and Dutch began to found colonies in North America and the smaller Caribbean islands. Barbados was the third major English settlement in the Americas (1607: Jamestown, 1620:Plymouth Colony, 1627: Barbados. The British Leeward Islands were occupied at about the same time as Barbados: 1623: St Kitts, 1628: Nevis, 1632: Montserrat, 1632: Antigua.) In the period 1640–60 the West Indies attracted over two thirds of English emigrants to the New World. By 1650 there were 44,000 English in the Caribbean, 12,000 on the Chesapeake and 23,000 in New England. The population of Barbados was estimated at 30,000. Most emigrants arrived as indentured servants. After five years of labor they were given 'freedom dues' of about ₤10, usually in goods. Before the mid-1630s they also received 5 to 10 acres of land but after that time the island filled up and there was no more free land. Around the time of Cromwell a number of rebels and criminals were also transported. The death rate was very high (Parish registers from the 1650s show, for the white population, four times as many deaths as marriages.) The main export was tobacco, but tobacco prices fell in the 1630s as Chesapeake production expanded.

From the 1640s the introduction of sugar from Dutch Brazil completely transformed society and the economy. A workable sugar plantation required a large investment and a great deal of heavy labor. White smallholders were bought out and the island was filled up with large slave-worked sugar plantations. At first, Dutch traders supplied the equipment, finance and slaves and carried most of the sugar to Europe. In 1644 there were about 800 slaves on the island. By 1660 there were 27,000 blacks and 26,000 whites. By 1666 at least 12,000 white smallholders had been bought out, died or left the island. Many of the remaining whites were increasingly poor. By 1680 there were seventeen slaves for every indentured servant. By 1700 there were 15,000 free whites and 50,000 enslaved blacks. In 1680 over half the arable land was held by 175 large planters who held at least 60 slaves. The great planters had connections with the English aristocracy and great influence on Parliament. (In 1668 the West Indian sugar crop sold for £180,000 after customs of £18,000. Chesapeake tobacco earned £50,000 after customs of £75,000). So much land was devoted to sugar that most food had to be imported from New England. The poorer whites that were squeezed off the island went to the British Leeward Islands or, especially, Jamaica. In 1670 South Carolina was founded from Barbados.

By 1660 Barbados generated more trade than all the other English colonies combined. It was surpassed by Jamaica in 1713. Even though, in 1730–31 the estimated value of the colony of Barbados was as much as ₤5,500,000.[25] Bridgetown, the capital, was one of the three largest cities in British America (the other two were Boston, Massachusetts and Port Royal, Jamaica.) By 1700 the English West Indies produced 25,000 tons of sugar, compared to 20,000 for Brazil, 10,000 for the French islands and 4,000 for the Dutch islands.[26]

English sailors who landed on Barbados in 1625 arrived at the site of present-day Holetown. The English then took possession of Barbados in the name of James I. From the arrival of the first English settlers in 1627–1628 until independence in 1966, Barbados was under uninterrupted British governance (and was the only Caribbean island that did not change hands during the colonial period). Nevertheless, Barbados always enjoyed a large measure of local autonomy. Its House of Assembly began meeting in 1639. Among the initial important figures was Anglo-Dutchman Sir William Courten.

Fighting during the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Interregnum spilled over into Barbados and Barbadian territorial waters. The island was not involved in the war until after the execution of Charles I, when the island's government fell under the control of Royalists (ironically the Governor, Philip Bell, remained loyal to Parliament while the Barbadian House of Assembly, under the influence of Humphrey Walrond, supported Charles II). To try to bring the recalcitrant colony to heel, the Commonwealth Parliament passed an act on 3 October 1650 which prohibited trade between England and the island, and because the island also traded with the Netherlands, further navigation acts were passed prohibiting any but English vessels trading with Dutch colonies. These acts were a precursor to the First Anglo-Dutch War. The Commonwealth of England sent an invasion force under the command of Sir George Ayscue which arrived in October 1651. After some skirmishing, the Royalists supporters in the Barbados House of Assembly led by Lord Willoughby surrendered. The conditions of surrender were incorporated into the Charter of Barbados (Treaty of Oistins), which was signed in the Mermaid's Inn, Oistins, on 17 January 1652.[27]

With the increased implementation of slave codes, which created differential treatment between Africans and the white workers and planters, the island became increasingly unattractive to poor whites. Black or slave codes were implemented in 1661, 1676, 1682, and 1688. In response to these codes, several slave rebellions were attempted or planned during this time, but none succeeded. Nevertheless, poor whites who had or acquired the means to emigrate often did so. Planters expanded their importation of African slaves to cultivate sugar cane.

Barbados eventually had one of the world's biggest sugar industries after starting sugar cane cultivation in 1640.[28] One group which was instrumental for ensuring the early success of the sugar cane industry were the Sephardic Jews, who originally been expelled from the Iberian peninsula to end up in Dutch Brazil.[28] This quickly replaced tobacco plantations on the islands which were previously the main export. As the sugar industry developed into its main commercial enterprise, Barbados was divided into large plantation estates that replaced the smallholdings of the early English settlers. Some of the displaced farmers moved to other English colonies in the Americas, most notably North and South Carolina, and British Guiana, as well as Panama. To work the plantations, planters imported enslaved West Africans to Barbados and other Caribbean islands.

The British abolished the slave trade in 1807 but not the institution itself. In 1816, slaves rose up in the largest major slave rebellion in the island's history. Twenty thousand slaves from over 70 plantations rebelled. They drove whites off the plantations, but widespread killings did not take place. This was later termed “Bussa's Rebellion” after the slave ranger, Bussa, who with his assistants hated slavery, found the treatment of slaves on Barbados to be “intolerable”, and believed the political climate in the UK made the time ripe to peacefully negotiate with planters for freedom (Davis, p. 211; Northrup, p. 191). Bussa's Rebellion failed. One hundred and twenty slaves died in combat or were immediately executed; another 144 were brought to trial and executed; remaining rebels were shipped off the island (Davis, pp. 212–213).

Slavery was finally abolished in the British Empire 18 years later in 1834. In Barbados and the rest of the British West Indian colonies, full emancipation from slavery was preceded by an apprenticeship period that lasted four years.

Statue of Lord Nelson in National Heroes Square which predates the more famous Nelson's Column by some 27 years.

In 1884, the Barbados Agricultural Society sent a letter to Sir Francis Hincks requesting his private and public views on whether the Dominion of Canada would favourably entertain having the then colony of Barbados admitted as a member of the Canadian Confederation. Asked of Canada were the terms of the Canadian side to initiate discussions, and whether or not the island of Barbados could depend on the full influence of Canada in getting the change agreed to by the United Kingdom. Then in 1952 the Barbados Advocate newspaper polled several prominent Barbadian politicians, lawyers, businessmen, the Speaker of the Barbados House of Assembly and later as first President of the Senate, Sir Theodore Branker, Q.C. and found them to be in favour of immediate federation of Barbados along with the rest of the British Caribbean with complete Dominion Status within five years from the date of inauguration of the West Indies Federation with Canada.

However, plantation owners and merchants of British descent still dominated local politics, owing to the high-income qualification required for voting. More than 70% of the population, many of them disenfranchised women, were excluded from the democratic process. It was not until the 1930s that the descendants of emancipated slaves began a movement for political rights. One of the leaders of this movement, Sir Grantley Adams, founded the Barbados Labour Party in 1938, then known as the Barbados Progressive League.

Adams and his party demanded more rights for the poor and for the people, and staunchly supported the monarchy. Progress toward a more democratic government in Barbados was made in 1942, when the exclusive income qualification was lowered and women were given the right to vote. By 1949 governmental control was wrested from the planters and, in 1958, Adams became Premier of Barbados.

From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was one of the ten members of the West Indies Federation, an organisation doomed by nationalistic attitudes and by the fact that its members, as British colonies, held limited legislative power. Adams served as its first and only "Premier", but his leadership failed in attempts to form similar unions, and his continued defence of the monarchy was used by his opponents as evidence that he was no longer in touch with the needs of his country. Errol Walton Barrow, a fervent reformer, became the new people's advocate. Barrow had left the BLP and formed the Democratic Labour Party as a liberal alternative to Adams' conservative government. Barrow instituted many progressive social programmes, such as free education for all Barbadians and the school meals system. By 1961, Barrow had replaced Adams as Premier and the DLP controlled the government.

With the Federation dissolved, Barbados reverted to its former status, that of a self-governing colony. The island negotiated its own independence at a constitutional conference with Britain in June 1966. After years of peaceful and democratic progress, Barbados finally became an independent state on 30 November 1966, with Errol Barrow its first Prime Minister, although Queen Elizabeth II remained the monarch. Upon independence Barbados maintained historical linkages with Britain by establishing membership to the Commonwealth of Nations grouping. A year later Barbados' international linkages were expanded by obtaining membership to the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Government and politics

Parliament Building.

Barbados has been an independent country since 30 November 1966. It functions as a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modelled on the British Westminster system, with Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados, as head of state represented locally by the Governor-General, Elliot Belgrave and the Prime Minister as the head of the government. The number of representatives within the House of Assembly has gradually increased from twenty four at independence, to its present composition of thirty seats.

Barbados functions as a two-party system, the two dominant parties being the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the opposition, Barbados Labour Party. Until 2003, each party had served two terms in office alternately.[29] The election of 2003 gave the BLP a third term victory, at which time the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) achieved being in government for 14 years, (1994 until the 2008 elections). Under that administration, the former Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Owen S. Arthur acted as the Regional Leader of the CSM (Caribbean Single Market).

The Honourable David Thompson, who was elected Prime Minister of Barbados in 2008, died of pancreatic cancer on 23 October 2010. He was succeeded by Deputy Prime Minister Freundel Stewart, who was sworn in the same day.[30][31]

Barbados has had several third parties over a period of time since independence: The People's Pressure Movement formed in the early 1970s and contested the 1976 elections; The National Democratic Party, which contested the 1994 elections; and the People's Democratic Congress, which contested the 2008 elections. Apart from these there were several independents who contested the elections, but independents are yet to win a seat in Parliament.


The Constitution of Barbados is the supreme law of the nation.[32] The Attorney General heads the independent judiciary. Historically, Barbadian law was based entirely on English common law with a few local adaptations. At the time of independence, the British Parliament ceased having the ability to change local legislation at its own discretion. British law and various legal statutes within British law at this time, and other prior measures adopted by the Barbadian parliament became the basis of the modern-day law system.

More recently, however, local Barbadian legislation may be shaped or influenced by such organisations as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or other international fora to which Barbados has obligatory commitments by treaty. Additionally, through international cooperation, other institutions may supply the Barbados Parliament with key sample legislation to be adapted to meet local circumstances before crafting it as local law.

Laws are passed by the Barbadian Parliament, whereby upon their passage, are given official vice-regal assent by the Governor-General to become law.

In Barbados, camouflage clothing is reserved for military use and forbidden for civilians to wear.

As of October 2010, it is illegal for persons to smoke in public areas.


The local court system of Barbados is made-up of:

  • Magistrates' Courts: Covering Criminal, Civil, Domestic, Domestic Violence, and Juvenile matters. But can also take up matters dealing with Corornor's Inquests, Liquor Licences, and civil marriages. Further, the Magistrates' Courts deal with Contract and Tort law where claims do not exceed $10,000.00.[33]
  • The Supreme Court: is made up of High Court and Court of Appeals.[33]
    • High Court: Consisting of Civil, Criminal, and Family law divisions.
    • Court of Appeal: Handles appeals from the High Court and Magistrates' Court. It hears appeals in both the civil, and criminal law jurisdictions. It may consist of a single Justice of Appeal sitting in Chambers; or may sit as a Full Court of three Justices of Appeals.
  • The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), (based in Port Of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), is the court of last resort (final jurisdiction) over Barbadian law. It replaced the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). The CCJ may resolve other disputed matters dealing with the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Foreign relations

Barbados is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).[34] Organization of American States (OAS), Commonwealth of Nations, and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which currently pertains only to Barbados, Belize and Guyana. In 2001 the Caribbean Community heads of government voted on a measure declaring that the region should work towards replacing the UK's Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Barbados is an original Member (1995) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and participates actively in its work. It grants at least MFN treatment to all its trading partners. As of December 2007, Barbados is linked by an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Commission. The pact involves the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) subgroup of the Group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific states (ACP). CARIFORUM presently the only part of the wider ACP-bloc that has concluded the full regional trade-pact with the European Union.

Trade policy has also sought to protect a small number of domestic activities, mostly food production, from foreign competition, while recognizing that most domestic needs are best met by imports.

Geography and climate

Map of Barbados
Beach near Bridgetown, Barbados.

Barbados is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles. It is flat in comparison to its island neighbours to the west, the Windward Islands. The island rises gently to the central highland region, with the highpoint of the nation being Mount Hillaby, in the Scotland District, 340 metres (1,120 ft) above sea level. The island is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the other West Indies Islands.

In the parish of Saint Michael lies Barbados' capital and main city, Bridgetown. Other major towns scattered across the island include Holetown, in the parish of Saint James; Oistins, in the parish of Christ Church; and Speightstown, in the parish of Saint Peter.


Barbados lies on the boundary of the South American and the Caribbean Plates.[35] The shift of the South American plate beneath the Caribbean plate scrapes sediment from the South American plate and deposits it above the subduction zone forming an accretionary prism. The rate of this depositing of material allows Barbados to rise at a rate of about 25 millimetres (0.98 in) per 1,000 years.[36] This subduction means geologically the island is composed of coral roughly (90 m/300 ft thick), where reefs formed above the sediment. The land slopes in a series of "terraces" in the west and goes into an incline in the east. A large proportion of the island is circled by coral reefs. The erosion of limestone rock in the North East of the island, in the Scotland District has resulted in the formation of various caves and gullys, some of which have become popular tourist attractions such as Harrison's Cave and Welchman Hall Gully. On the Atlantic East coast of the island coastal landforms including stacks have been created due to the limestone composition of the area.


The country is generally split into a period of two seasons one of which includes noticeably higher rainfall. Known as the "wet season", this period runs from June–November, In contrast, the "dry season" runs December–May. The annual precipitation ranges between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 90 inches (2,300 mm). From December–May the average temperatures range from 21 to 31 °C (70 to 88 °F), while between June–November, they range from 23 to 31 °C (73 to 88 °F).[37]

On the Köppen climate classification scale, much of Barbados is regarded as a Tropical monsoon climate (Am). However, gentle breezes of 12–16 kilometres per hour (8–10 mph) abound throughout the year and give Barbados a warm climate which is moderately tropical.

Infrequent natural hazards include: earthquakes, landslips, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the worst effects of the region's tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season. The far eastern location in the Atlantic Ocean puts the country just outside the principal hurricane strike zone. On average, a major hurricane strikes about once every 26 years. The last significant hit from a hurricane to cause severe damage to Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955, however in 2010 the island was struck by Hurricane Tomas but only caused minor damage across the island.[38]


Map of the parishes of Barbados

Barbados is divided into 11 parishes:

  1. Christ Church
  2. Saint Andrew
  3. Saint George
  4. Saint James
  5. Saint John
  6. Saint Joseph
  7. Saint Lucy
  8. Saint Michael
  9. Saint Peter
  10. Saint Philip
  11. Saint Thomas

St. George and St. Thomas located in the middle of the country are the only two parishes without coastlines.


Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross domestic product) per capita,[3] has a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is classified as being in its 66 top High income economies of the world.[39]

Historically, the economy of Barbados had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s it has diversified into the manufacturing and tourism sectors. Offshore finance and information services have become important foreign exchange earners, and there is a healthy light manufacturing sector. Since the 1990s the Barbados Government has been seen as business-friendly and economically sound.[citation needed] The island has seen a construction boom, with the development and redevelopment of hotels, office complexes, and homes.[citation needed]

Recent government administrations have continued efforts to reduce unemployment, encourage foreign direct investment, and privatise remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment has been reduced from around 14 percent in the past to under 10 percent.[citation needed]

The economy contracted in 2001 and 2002 due to slowdowns in tourism, consumer spending and the impact of the 11 September 2001 attacks, but rebounded in 2003 and has shown growth since 2004.[citation needed] 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 CA$ 25 billion in investment holdings, placing it as one of Canada's top five destinations for Canadian foreign direct investment (FDI). Businessman Eugene Melnyk of Toronto, Canada, is said to be Barbados' richest permanent resident.[citation needed]

It has been reported that the year 2006 would have been one of the busiest years for building construction ever in Barbados, as the building-boom on the island entered the final stages for several multi-million dollar commercial projects.[40]

The European Union is presently assisting Barbados with a €10 million programme of modernisation of the country's International Business and Financial Services Sector.[41]

Barbados maintains the third largest stock exchange in the Caribbean region. At present, officials at the stock exchange are investigating the possibility of augmenting the local exchange with an International Securities Market (ISM) venture.[42]


Typical ZR-van with markings indicating that it serves the number 11 route.

Transport on the island is relatively convenient, with 'route taxis', called "ZRs" (pronounced "Zed-Rs"), travelling to most points on the island. These small buses can at times be crowded, as passengers are generally never turned down, regardless of the number. However, they will usually take the more scenic routes to destinations. They generally depart from the capital Bridgetown or from Speightstown in the northern part of the island.

Old Barbados Transport Board bus in Bridgetown.

Including the ZRs there are three bus systems running seven days a week (though less frequently on Sundays). There's ZRs, the yellow minibuses and the blue Transport Board buses. A ride on any of them costs BBD$2.00. The smaller buses from the two privately owned systems ("ZRs" and "minibuses") can give change; the larger blue buses from the government-operated Barbados Transport Board system cannot, but do give receipts. Children in school uniform ride for free on the Government buses and for $1.50 on the minibuses and ZRs. Most routes require a connection in Bridgetown. Some drivers within the competitive privately owned systems are reluctant to advise persons to use competing services, even if those would be more suitable.

Some hotels also provide visitors with shuttles to points of interest on the island from outside the hotel lobby. There are several locally owned and operated vehicle rental agencies in Barbados but there are no multi-national companies.

The island's lone airport is the Grantley Adams International Airport. It 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. In the first decade of 21st century it underwent a US$100 million upgrade and expansion.

There is also a helicopter shuttle service, which offers air taxi services to a number of sites around the island, mainly on the West Coast tourist belt. Air and maritime traffic is regulated by the Barbados Port Authority.


Barbados has numerous internationally known hotels. Time-shares are available, and many of the smaller local hotels and private villas which dot the island have space available if booked in advance. The southern and western coasts of Barbados are popular, with the calm light blue Caribbean Sea and their white and pinkish sandy beaches. Along the island's east coast, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, there are tumbling waves which are perfect for light surfing. Some areas remain risky to swimmers due to under-tow currents.

Shopping districts are popular in Barbados, with ample duty-free shopping. There is also a festive night-life in mainly tourist areas such as the Saint Lawrence Gap. Other attractions include wildlife reserves (Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary), jewelry stores, scuba diving, helicopter rides, golf, festivals (the largest being the annual Crop Over festival July/Aug), sightseeing, cave exploration (Harrison's Cave), exotic drinks and fine clothes shopping.

Attractions, landmarks and points of interest

Tourism accounts for almost one half of the economy. Name / Parish Location:

Christ Church

St. Andrew

St. George

St. James

St. John

St. Joseph

St. Lucy

St. Michael

St. Peter

  • Barbados Wildlife Reserve
  • Farley Hill National Park
  • St Nicholas Abbey

St. Philip

  • Crane Beach
  • Sunbury Plantation
  • Bayley's Plantation

St. Thomas

List of: Cities, towns and villages in Barbados.


A bus stop in Barbados
High Street

Barbados has a population of about 281,968 and a population growth rate of 0.33% (Mid-2005 estimates). It currently ranks as: the 4th most densely populated country in the Americas (18th globally), and the 10th most populated island country in the region, (101st globally). Close to 90% of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as Bajan) are of African descent ("Afro-Bajans") and mixed-descent. The remainder of the population includes groups of Europeans ("Anglo-Bajans" / "Euro-Bajans") mainly from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Chinese, Bajan Muslims from India. Other groups in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. Barbadians who return after years of residence in the U.S. and children born in America to Bajan parents are called "Bajan Yankees"[citation needed], this term is considered derogatory by some. Generally, Bajans recognize and accept all 'children-of-the-island' as Bajans, and refer to each other as such.

The biggest communities outside the Afro-Caribbean community are:

  1. The Indo-Guyanese, an important part of the economy due to the increase of immigrants from partner country Guyana. There are reports of a growing Indo-Bajan diaspora originating from Guyana and India. They introduced roti and other Indian dishes to Barbados' culture. Mostly from southern India and Hindu states, they are growing in size but smaller than the equivalent communities in Trinidad & Guyana.
  2. Euro-Bajans (4% of the population)[2] have settled in Barbados since the 16th century, originating from England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1643, there were 37,200 whites in Barbados (86% of the population).[43] More commonly they are known as "White Bajans". Euro-Bajans introduced folk music, such as Irish music and Highland music, and certain place names, such as "Scotland", a mountainous region. Among White Barbadians there exists an underclass known as Redlegs; the descendants of indentured servants, and prisoners imported to the island.[44] Many additionally moved on to become the earliest settlers of modern-day North and South Carolina in the United States.
  3. Chinese are a minute portion of Barbados' Asian demographics, far smaller than the equivalent communities of Jamaica and Trinidad. Most if not all first arrived in the 1940s during the Second World War, originating mainly from the then British territory of Hong Kong. Many Chinese-Bajans have the surnames Chin, Chynn or Lee, although other surnames prevail in certain areas of the island.[citation needed]
  4. Lebanese and Syrians form the Arab community on the island and the Muslim minority among them make up a small percentage of the Muslim population. The majority of the Lebanese and Syrians arrived in Barbados due to trade opportunities. Although in the numbers are dwindling due to emigration and immigration to other countries.
  5. Jewish people arrived in Barbados just after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is the home of the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Americas, dating from 1654, though the current structure was erected in 1833 replacing one ruined by the hurricane of 1831. Tombstones in the neighboring cemetery date from the 1630s. Now under the care of the Barbados National Trust the site was deserted in 1929, but was subsequently saved and restored by the Jewish community in 1983.
  6. Indians from Gujarat in India make up majority of the Muslim population. Muslim-Indian Barbadians are often perceived to be the most successful group in business, along with the Chinese Bajans.[citation needed]

The average life expectancy is 77 years for both males and females.[citation needed] Barbados and Japan have the distinction of having highest number of centenarians (on a per capita basis) in the world.


English is the root official language of Barbados, and is used for communications, administration, and public services all over the island. In its capacity as the official language of the country, the standard of English tends to conform to the vocabulary, pronunciations, spellings, and conventions akin to, but not exactly the same as, those of British English. A regional variant of English, referred to locally as Bajan, is spoken by most Barbadians in everyday life, especially in informal settings. In its full-fledged form, Bajan sounds markedly different from the Standard English heard on the island.

The degree of intelligibility between Bajan and general English changes depending on the speakers' origins and the "rawness" of one's accent. In rare instances, a Bajan speaker may be completely unintelligible to an outside English speaker if sufficient slang terminology is present in a sentence. Bajan is somewhat differentiated from, but highly influenced by other Caribbean English dialects; it is a fusion of British English and elements borrowed from the languages of West Africa. Hindi and Bhojpuri are also spoken on the island by a small Indo-Bajan minority. Spanish is considered the most popular second language on the island, followed by French.[citation needed]


Most Barbadians of African and European descent are Christians (95%), chiefly Anglicans (40%). Other Christian denominations with significant followings in Barbados are the Roman Catholic Church,Pentecostals (Evangelicals) Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventist and Spiritual Baptists. The Church of England was the official state religion until its legal disenfranchisement by the Parliament of Barbados following independence.[45] Religious minorities include Hindus, Muslims, the Baha'i Faith,[46],Jews and Wiccans.


Similar to other nations within the Commonwealth of Nations all Barbadian citizens are covered by national healthcare. Barbados has over twenty polyclinics throughout the country in addition to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (General Hospital) located in Bridgetown. In 2011 the Government of Barbados signed a Memorandum of Understanding to lease its 22-acre Saint Joseph Hospital to Denver, Colorado based America World Clinics. Under the deal the group will use Barbados as one of its main destinations for medical tourism at that facility.


Education in Barbados is fashioned after the British model. The government of Barbados spends roughly 20% of its annual national budget on education.[citation needed] All young people in the country must attend school until age 16. Barbados' literacy rate is ranked close to 100%, with both UNESCO and the Minister of Education stating that Barbados was in the top 5 countries worldwide for literacy rate.[47] thus placing the country alongside many of the industrialised nations of the world. Barbados has over 70 primary schools, and over 20 secondary schools throughout the island. There are also a number of private schools catering to various teaching models including Montessori and International Baccalaureate. Degree level education in the country is provided by the Barbados Community College, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, and a local Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies


Singer Rihanna is from 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 cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Frank Worrell.

Citizens are officially called Barbadians. The term "Bajan" (pronounced "beijan) may have come from a localised pronunciation of the word Barbadian which at times can sound more like "Bar-bajan".

The largest carnival-like cultural event which takes place on the island is the Crop Over festival. As in many other Caribbean and Latin American countries, Crop Over 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 festival includes musical competitions and other traditional activities. The male and female Barbadian that harvested the most sugarcane are also crowned as the King and Queen of the crop.[48] It gets under way from the beginning of July, and ends with the costumed parade on Kadooment Day, held on the first Monday of August.

In the music business, Rihanna is currently one of Barbados' most well known Grammy winning artists. As of 2009 she was appointed as an official Honorary Ambassador of youth and culture for Barbados by the late Prime Minister, David Thompson. In 2008, Barbados recognized her achievements on "Rihanna Day".[49]


As in other Caribbean countries of British colonial heritage, cricket is very popular on the island. Barbadians play on the West Indies cricket team. In addition to several warm-up matches and six "Super Eight" matches, and the country hosted the final of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. They have had many great cricketers such as Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Gordon Greenidge, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall.

Obadele Thompson is a world class sprinter from Barbados; he won a bronze medal at Olympic Games over 100m in 2000. Ryan Brathwaite, a hurdler, reached the 2008 Olympic semi-finals in Beijing. Brathwaite also earned Barbados its first ever medal at the world championships in Berlin, Germany on 20 August 2009, when he won the men's 110 meter hurdles title. The 21-year-old timed a national record of 13.14 seconds to win the Gold Medal.

Polo is very popular amongst the rich 'elite' on the island and the 'High-Goal' Apes Hill team is based in the St James's Club.[50] It is also played at the private Holders Festival ground.

In golf, the Barbados Open is an annual stop on the European Seniors Tour. In December 2006 the WGC-World Cup took place at the country's Sandy Lane resort on the Country Club course, an 18-hole course designed by Tom Fazio. The Barbados Golf Club is the other main course on the island. Sanctioned by the PGA European Tour to host a PGA Seniors Tournament in 2003 and it has also hosted the Barbados Open on several occasions.

Basketball is a popular sport played at school or college and is increasing in popularity, as is volleyball, though volleyball is mainly played indoors.

Motorsports also play a role, with Rally Barbados occurring each summer and currently being listed on the FIA NACAM calendar.

The presence of the trade winds along with favourable swells make the southern tip of the Island an ideal location for wave sailing (an extreme form of the sport of windsurfing).

Netball is also popular with women in Barbados.

Barbadian team The Flyin' Fish, are the 2009 Segway Polo World Champions.[51]

National symbols


The trident centred within the flag is a representation of the mythological Neptune, god of the sea. The trident in its original unbroken form was taken from the former colonial seal, which itself was replaced by the current coat of arms. Used within the national flag, the left and right shafts of the trident were then designed as 'broken' representing the nation of Barbados breaking away from its historical and constitutional ties as a former colony.

The three points of the trident represent in Barbados the three principles of democracy—"government of, for and by the people." The broken trident is set in a centred vertical band of gold representing the sands of Barbados' beaches. The gold band itself is surrounded on both sides by vertical bands of ultramarine (blue) representing the sea and sky of Barbados.

The design for the flag was created by Grantley W. Prescod and was chosen from an open competition arranged by the Barbados government. Over a thousand entries were received.[52]


The coat of arms depicts two animals which are supporting the shield. On the left is a "dolphin" which is symbolic of the fishing industry. On the right is a pelican which is 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 saltire cross upon which Saint Andrew was crucified. On the base of the Coat of Arms reads "Pride and Industry".

Golden Shield

The Golden Shield in the coat of arms carries two "Pride of Barbados" flowers (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) and the "bearded" fig tree, which was common on the island at the time of its settlement by the British and may have contributed to Barbados being so named.


A yellow and red Pride of Barbados.

The national flower is the Pride of Barbados or Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw., which grows across the island.

National heroes

On April 1998, the Order of National Heroes Act was passed by the Parliament of Barbados. According to the government, the act established that 28 April (the centenary of the birth of Sir Grantley Adams) would be celebrated as National Heroes' Day. The act also declared that there are ten national heroes of Barbados, all of whom would be elevated to the title of "The Right Excellent".[53]

The ten official National Heroes of Barbados are:

See also


  1. ^ Elliot Belgrave is acting GG, 1 Nov 2011, Barbados Daily Nation newspaper
  2. ^ a b Barbados: People. World Factbook of CIA
  3. ^ a b c d e "Barbados". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2010". United Nations. 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Chapter 4 – The Windward Islands and Barbados – U.S. Library of Congress
  6. ^ a b Sauer, Carl Ortwin (1969) [1966] Early Spanish Main, The University of California Press pp. pp. 192-197 ISBN 0-520-01415-4 Retrieved November 15, 2011 
  7. ^ "Barbados – History" Commonwealth of Nations 
  8. ^ "Latest Socio-Economic Indicators" Barbados Statistical Service 2008 
  9. ^ "Places of interest – BRIDGETOWN" Government of Barbados 2008 
  10. ^ "History and present government – Barbados" The Royal Household 2010 Retrieved 10 May 2010 
  11. ^ Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 reults
  12. ^ Barbados the Red Land with White Teeth: Home of the Amerindians Barbados Museum & Historical Society 1998 Retrieved 14 May 2010 "A temporary exhibit which examined some of the preliminary excavations conducted at the dig site at Heywoods, St. Peter." 
  13. ^ Barbados – Geography / History Fun 'N' Sun Publishing Inc. 2008 Retrieved 14 May 2010 
  14. ^ Faria, Norman (17) "Guyana Consul (Barbados) Visit to Former Amerindian Village Site in B'dos" Guyana Chronicle newspaper Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations p. Pg 2. Retrieved 14 May 2010 "Adjacent to the park, there is still a fresh water stream. This as a main reason the village was here. A hundred or so metres away is the sea and a further five hundred metres out across a lagoon was the outlying reef where the Atlantic swells broke on the coral in shallow waters. As an aside, the word "Ichirouganaim", said to be an Arawak word which the Amerindians used to describe Barbados, is thought to refer to the imagery of "teeth" imagery of the waves breaking on the reefs off most of southern and eastern coasts." 
  15. ^ [|Drewett, Dr. Peter] (1991) Prehistoric Barbados Barbados Museum and Historical Society ISBN 1873132158 
  16. ^ [|Drewett, Dr. Peter] (April) Prehistoric Settlements in the Caribbean: Fieldwork on Barbados, Tortola and the Cayman Islands Archetype Publications Ltd. ISBN 1873132220 
  17. ^ "AXSES Systems Caribbean Inc., The Barbados Tourism Encyclopaedia". 8 February 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "Britannica Encyclopaedia: History of Barbados". Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  19. ^ National Cultural Foundation[dead link]
  20. ^ a b c Carrington, Sean (2007). A~Z of Barbados Heritage. Macmillan Caribbean Publishers Limited. p. 25. ISBN 0-333-92068-6. 
  21. ^ A History of Barbados: From Amerindian Settlement to Caribbean Single Market by Hilary McD. Beckles (Cambridge University Press, 2007 edition)
  22. ^ a b UCTP
  23. ^ An Abbreviated Synopsys of Eagle Clan Arawak History 1692–1999, Origin of the Eagle Clan, Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations
  24. ^ Descendants of Princess Marian
  25. ^ Sugar and slavery: an economic history of the British West Indies, 1623-1775 By Richard B. Sheridan, p. 144
  26. ^ Alan Taylor, 'American Colonies: The Settlement of North America', 2001, discusses Barbados in the context of North American settlement
  27. ^ Karl Watson, The Civil War in Barbados, British History in-depth , BBC, 5 November 2009
  28. ^ a b Barbados: Just Beyond Your Imagination. Hansib Publishing (Caribbean) Ltd. 1997. pp. 46, 48. ISBN 1870518543. 
  29. ^ G.O.B. (2011). "Government of Barbados". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade B.G.I.S.. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Caribbean: News in the Caribbean -".<!. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  31. ^ "Barbados PM dies at 48". CNN. 25 October 2010. 
  32. ^ The official Constitution of Barbados (2006) version.
  33. ^ a b "Law Courts of Barbados". Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  34. ^, The Barbados Government's Regional and International affiliations]
  35. ^ Logan, Gabi (Unk. date). "Geologic History of Barbados Beaches". USA Today (Demand Media). Retrieved 2 July 2011. "Barbados lies directly over the intersection of the Caribbean plate and the South American plate in a region known as a subduction zone. Beneath the ocean floor, the South American plate slowly slides below the Caribbean plate." 
  36. ^ admin, admin. (2010) "Barbados Sightseeing - Animal Flower Cave" Leigh Designs Little Bay House Retrieved 10 July 2011 "The Animal flower Cave is the island’s lone accessible sea-cave and was discovered from the sea in 1780 by two English explorers. The cave’s coral floor is estimated to be 400,000 to 500,000 years old and the “younger” coral section above the floor is about 126,000 years old. The dating was carried out by the German Geographical Institute, and visitors can see a “map” of the dating work in the bar and restaurant. The cave now stands some six feet above the high tide mark even though it was formed at sea level. This is because Barbados is rising about one inch per 1,000 years, which is yet another indication of the cave’s age." 
  37. ^ "BBC Weather: Average and Record Conditions at Bridgetown, Barbados". BBC Weather. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  38. ^ BBC News [1]BBC News, October 30, 2010.
  39. ^ World Bank – Country Groups.. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  40. ^ Morris, Roy (2 January 2006). "Builders paradise". The Nation Newspaper. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009. "Industry sources are warning, however, that while the boom will bring many jobs and much income, ordinary Barbadians hoping to undertake home construction or improvement will be hard pressed to find materials or labour, given the large number of massive commercial projects with which they will have to compete. [ . . . ] Construction magnate Sir Charles 'COW' Williams, agreeing that this year will be "without doubt" the biggest ever for the island as far as construction was concerned, revealed that his organisation was in the final stages of the construction of a new $6 million plant at Lears, St Michael to double its capacity to produce concrete blocks, as well as a new $2 million plant to supply ready-mixed concrete from its fleet of trucks. "The important thing to keep in mind is that the country will benefit tremendously from a massive injection of foreign exchange from people who want to own homes here," Sir Charles said." 
  41. ^ Lashley, Cathy (24 July 2009). "Barbados signs agreement with EU". Caribbean Net News. Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  42. ^ H, R (28 July 2009). "Treaty network an advantage in securities trading". Barbados Advocate. Retrieved 28 July 2009. 
  43. ^ Population, Slavery and Economy in Barbados, BBC.
  44. ^ The Irish in the Caribbean 1641–1837: An Overview, By Nini Rodgers, Society for Irish Latin American Studies
  45. ^, Rajkumar Singh (20 January 2006). "Parliament: Act of Parliament concerning the Anglican church". Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  46. ^ "Welcome to the Barbados Baha’i Website". Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  47. ^ B., Y. (9 September 2009). "'Our literacy rating in Top 5'". Nation Newspaper. Retrieved 11 September 2009. "Mere days after deputy principal of the Erdiston Teachers' Training College, Dr Patricia Saul, suggested the touted 98 per cent literacy rate was a myth, Minister of Education and Human Resources Development Ronald Jones said the country was ranked among the highest in the world. "In a world where there are still some 776 million adults who are illiterate, and some 75 million children who are out of school, we are proud to say that we have free education from the nursery to tertiary level and our literacy rate is still among the highest in the world—fourth in the world, and that is exceptionally high," Jones said. Speaking at yesterday's Literacy Fair in Queen's Park, Jones said teachers, principals, parents, students and all those involved in the process needed to be applauded for "keeping us on that edge"." [dead link]
  48. ^ "Crop Over Festival". Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  49. ^,+Pon+de+Replay/articles/166/RIHANNA+DAY+BARBADOS+HONORS+RIHANNA+NAMES
  50. ^
  51. ^ Harris, Alan (26 July 2009). "Barbados Segway Polo team 2009 World Champions". Barbados Advocate. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  52. ^ "Government of Barbados National Flag". 12 November 2003. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  53. ^ Government of Barbados – National HeroesHistory of Barbados, The Parliament of Barbados


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  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2000 edition".
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2003 edition".
  • Davis, David Brion. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-514073-7
  • Frere, Samuel, A short history of Barbados: from its first discovery and settlement, to the end of the year 1767, published by J. Dodsley, London, 1768, download pdf from
  • Gragg, Larry Dale, 2003. Englishmen transplanted: the English colonization of Barbados, 1627–1660. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-925389-7
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  • Northrup, David, ed. The Atlantic Slave Trade, Second Edition. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. ISBN 0-618-11624-9
  • O'Shaughnessy, Andrew Jackson 2000. An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia ISBN 0-8122-1732-2
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  • Scott, Caroline 1999. Insight Guide Barbados. Discovery Channel and Insight Guides; fourth edition, Singapore. ISBN 0-88729-033-7


External links

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