Barbados, an island state in the Caribbean and the Western Atlantic, 434 kilometers northeast of Venezuela and 60 kilometers east of the Lesser Antilles. The state has an almost triangular shape. Closest neighboring countries are Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. At its widest, the island is 23 kilometers and at its longest 34 kilometers. The capital is Bridgetown.
Barbados (the name) is of Spanish: ‘barbado’, ‘bearded, root shot’, given in the 16th century, possibly after spruce plants and root shoots on fig-like trees like the memory of beards.
Barbados is one of the West Indies most prosperous and densely populated states.
Anthem is the National Anthem of Barbados (Barbados’ national anthem). It is also called In Plenty and in Time of Need.
Geography and environment
Except in the northeast, the bedrock is a coral-limestone rock. The island is relatively flat with some elevation towards the middle. The highest point is Mount Hillaby, 336 meters above sea level. From the interior, the landscape descends in steps towards a plain on the coast; it is the steepest to the coast in the south and east. Elves are missing. There are long beaches in the west and southwest. Coral reefs surround most of the island.
Barbados has a tropical passat climate with small variations throughout the day and seasons. The temperature is rarely above 30 o C and below 22 o C. It is rainy season from June to November and the average annual rainfall is 1525 millimeters, with considerable local variations. The rest of the year is drought. The island is located on the southern border of the Caribbean hurricane belt and is rarely hit by devastating storms.
Very little of the original vegetation is preserved; the characteristic landscape color is the cane’s pale green. Tropical trees, such as flamboyant (flame trees) and frangipani are common, and flowering shrubs adorn gardens and parks. About 2/3 of the island is cultivated. 4.7 percent of Barbados is forested.
There are few mammal species; almost all are introduced. The only original ones are some species of bats. Examples of introduced mammals are rat, java mangosteen, and rape tape.
The birds include the endemic (native) Barbadoss sparrow, three hummingbird species and several species of pigeons and herons.
There are some endemic species of reptiles, including a gecko and a ham. The Barbados wire hose, which grows up to 10 centimeters long, is the world’s smallest known snake and was discovered in 2008. Piping and whistling from wood frogs are heard at night.
There are many species of fish, including fly fish, tarpon, dolphin and barracuda.
People and society
The largest population (92.4 per cent) are Barbadians (locally called Bajans) with African backgrounds, while whites make up 2.7 per cent (The World Factbook, 2015). There are also small groups of Chinese, Hindus and Muslims, Venezuelans, Brazilians and people from other Caribbean islands. Most of the population resides along the coast in the southwest.
Life expectancy at birth is 75.56 years for women and 72.82 years for men (The World Factbook, 2015).
Protestants make up 66.3 percent, Roman Catholics 3.8 percent and other Christians 5.4 percent of the population.
English is the official language. Bajansk, an English-based Creole, is a local dialect.
State and politics
Barbados is a parliamentary-democratic unitary state. The British monarch is the head of state and is represented by a governor-general who appoints the prime minister and government. The House consists of a Senate House and a House of Assembly, the House of Assembly. The Senate has 21 members, all of whom are appointed by the Governor-General and the House of Assembly has 30 members elected in direct elections for 5 years.
Barbados is administratively divided into 11 parishes and one city.
The Barbados Defense Force (BDF) is the country’s defense force and consists of an infantry battalion, a coastguard and an air wing. The Barbados Police Force has the Special Task Force. Military service is voluntary at the age of 18.
Barbados is a member of the UN and most of the UN’s special organizations, the Commonwealth, CARICOM, the Organization of American States and the Cotonou Agreement.
Southeast of the capital Bridgetown is Garrison’s historic area with a number of interesting 19th century military buildings and Garrison Savannah, a horse racing track. The bell tower in the picture is from the old main watch tower which today houses an information center and exhibition.
There were three waves of immigration from South America before the Spaniards arrived in the early 16th century. The Arawaks, who were the original inhabitants, were then used for slave labor on plantations. Many escaped or were deported. British sailors arrived in 1627 and the years that followed, when Barbados was almost uninhabited. From the 1620s, black slaves were sent from West Africa to Barbados. The local parliament, ‘House of Assembly’, was operating from 1639, and Barbados has since enjoyed much autonomy. Barbados became the British crown colony in 1652. In the second half of the 17th century, the English sent many British and Irish to Barbados as slaves. Slavery was discontinued in 1834.
General voting rights were introduced in 1951, and expanded internal self-government was introduced in 1954. The island was a member of the West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. Barbados gained full autonomy in 1962 and independence in 1966. A desire for Barbados to become a republic has not materialized. In the 1990s, tourism and light industry passed the sugar industry in terms of economic importance.
Economy and business
Agriculture used to be the most important trade route, but today accounts for only 3.1 per cent of GDP (2014). The most important agricultural products are sugar cane, vegetables and cotton.
The industry comprises the manufacture of space and molasses as well as the production of electrical equipment, foodstuffs, tobacco, textiles and plastics and rubber products. Manufacturing comprises 11.8 per cent of GDP (2014). Some crude oil and gas are extracted offshore. Since the 1990s there has been extensive construction activities.
The service industry is the dominant economic sector with 85.1 per cent of GDP (2014). Every year, Barbados is visited by more tourists than the number of inhabitants. There are many cruise ship calls. Barbados is a low-tax area.
Knowledge and culture
There are 6 years of primary school and 5 years of high school, both are compulsory and free. Three public institutions provide higher education.
There is one state radio and television channel, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and a number of radio channels.
Barbados has three daily newspapers and one daily online newspaper.
The best known authors are the poet, actor and painter Frank Appleton Collymore (1893–1980) and the poet Kamar Brathwaite (1930–). Also significant are the novelist Cynthia Wilson (1934–) and novelist Andrea Stuart (1962–), as well as novelist, essayist, and poet George Lamming (1927–).
Popular music genres are calypso, jazz, reggae, soca and tuk. The Barbados Jazz Festival is held annually in February. Singer Rihanna (1988–) was born in Barbados.
Cricket, golf and basketball are popular sports.