Barbados is an island nation of the Lesser Antilles, 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 Ocean and 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; 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 Venezuela. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.
Once a Portuguese territorial possession known as os Barbados, in 1625 it became English, and later a British colony. The island has an estimated population of 275,338 people, with around 80,000 living in or around Bridgetown, the largest city and the country’s capital. In 1966, Barbados became an independent nation and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s leading tourist destinations and is the most developed island in the region, with an HDI number of 0.903. Barbados is the third most developed country in the western hemisphere (the first and second being Canada and the U.S.).
Government and Politics of Barbados
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, Clifford Husbands 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.
Foreign relations of Barbados
Barbados functions as a two-party system, the two dominant parties being the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the opposition, Barbados Labour Party.
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). Organization of American States (OAS), Commonwealth of Nations, and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which currently pertains only to Barbados 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.
Geography and climate of 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 isles.
Parishes of Barbados
Barbados is divided into eleven parishes:
Economy of Barbados
Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross domestic product) per capita, 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.
Transport in Barbados
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.
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.
The island of Barbados’s lone airport is the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) It receives daily flights by several major airlines from points around the globe, as well as several smaller regional commercial airlines and charters.
Due to its relatively high levels of development and its favourable location, Barbados has become one of the prime tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Numerous internationally known hotels offering world-class accommodation can be found on the island. 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 fine 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 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, jewelry stores, scuba diving, helicopter rides, golf, festivals (the largest being the annual Crop Over festival July/Aug), sightseeing, cave exploration, exotic drinks and fine clothes shopping.
Demographics of Barbados and Barbadian people
At the 2010 census, Barbados had an estimated population of 277,821.
English is the root official language of Barbados, and is used for communications, administration, and public services all over the island.
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 cricketers, including Garfield Sobers and Frank Worrell. 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.
The largest carnival-like cultural event which takes place on the island is the Crop Over festival.
Barbados retains a strong British influence and is referred to by its neighbours as “Little England”.