Population: 286,705 (July 2011 estimate)
Area: 166 square miles (430 sq km)
Coastline: 60 miles (97 km)
Highest Point: Mount Hillaby at 1,102 feet (336 m)
Barbados is an island nation located in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean. It is a relatively small island with an area of just 166 square miles (430 sq km). The country has a population of 286,705 (July 2011 estimate), over 90,000 of whom live in the its capital and largest city, Bridgetown. Barbados is known as being a top tourist destination in the Caribbean and as one of the region's least developed countries.
History of Barbados
The island of Barbados was uninhabited until the British arrived there in the 1620s. After their arrival, the British took control of the island, but it was largely a self-funded colony (U.S. Department of State). As the colony began to grow in population, Barbados also began to develop a strong sugar industry. As a result, the island became divided into plantation estates and many of the original British colonists on the island were displaced. In addition, plantation owners also brought in slaves from Africa to work on their land until a few years before slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834 (U.S. Department of State).
In the 1930s, the descendents of Barbados's former slaves began to push for their own political rights (which had previously been dominated by plantation owners and trading merchants). In 1938 Sir Grantley Adams founded the Barbados Labour Party. By 1951 elections in Barbados were open to all adults and in 1961 Barbados became a self-governing British colony.
Beginning in 1958 Barbados became a member of the West Indies Federation and Sir Grantley Adams served as its prime minister until the federation was terminated in 1962 (U.S. Department of State). Shortly thereafter, Barbados began pushing for its independence and on November 30, 1966, it became an independent country within the British Commonwealth.
Government of Barbados
Today the government of Barbados is considered a parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm. It has an executive branch of government consisting of a chief of state (Queen Elizabeth II) and a head of government (the prime minister). Its legislative branch is made up of a bicameral parliament with a Senate and the House of Assembly. The judicial branch of government in Barbados consists of a Supreme Court of Judicature that is divided into a high Court and a Court of Appeal. Barbados is also a part of the Caribbean Court of Justice that is based in Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is divided into 11 parishes and one city (Bridgetown) for local administration.
Economics and Land Use in Barbados
The economy of Barbados is very strong and it is mainly based on high-end tourism and light industry, but historically it was focused on sugarcane. Sugar is still a major industry on the island but it is gradually modernizing away from agriculture. Other industries in Barbados are light manufacturing and component assembly for export (CIA World Factbook). Aside from sugarcane, the main agricultural products of Barbados are vegetables and cotton (CIA World Factbook).
Geography and Climate of Barbados
Barbados is located in the Caribbean Sea about 104 miles (168 km) east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and about 250 miles (400 km) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela (map). The topography of Barbados is relatively uniform and flat along the coast, while the central portion of the island has a gradually rising central highland. The highest point in Barbados is Mount Hillaby at 1,102 feet (336 m).
The climate of Barbados is tropical and as such it is warm year-round. In addition, it has a rainy season that lasts from June to October. Bridgetown has an average January low temperature of 70˚F (21˚C), while its August high temperature is 88˚F (31˚C). During its rainy season (June through November) Bridgetown receives an average of 37.8 inches (960 mm) of precipitation.
To learn more about Barbados, visit the Geography and Maps page on Barbados on this website.
Central Intelligence Agency. (16 August 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Barbados. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bb.html
Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Barbados: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107321.html
United States Department of State. (12 August 2011). Barbados. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/26507.htm
Wikipedia.org. (17 August 2011). Barbados - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados