Flag of Barbados

map (opens in new window)


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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

13 10 N, 59 32 W


total: 431 sq km
land: 431 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Land boundaries:

0 km


97 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; rainy season (June to October)


relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region

Elevation extremes:

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

Natural resources:

petroleum, fish, natural gas

Land use:

arable land: 37.21%
permanent crops: 2.33%
other: 60.46% (2005)

Irrigated land:

50 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

infrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides

Environment - current issues:

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

Geography - note:

easternmost Caribbean island


279,912 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 20.1% (male 28,160/female 28,039)
15-64 years: 71.1% (male 97,755/female 101,223)
65 years and over: 8.8% (male 9,508/female 15,227) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 34.6 years
male: 33.4 years
female: 35.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.37% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

12.71 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

8.67 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 11.77 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.38 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 72.79 years
male: 70.79 years
female: 74.82 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.65 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.5% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

2,500 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 200 (2003 est.)


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

Ethnic groups:

black 90%, white 4%, Asian and mixed 6%


Protestant 67% (Anglican 40%, Pentecostal 8%, Methodist 7%, other 12%), Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%




definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.7% (2002 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Barbados

Government type:

parliamentary democracy; independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth



Administrative divisions:

11 parishes; Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas; note - the city of Bridgetown may be given parish status


30 November 1966 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 30 November (1966)


30 November 1966

Legal system:

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


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (21-member body appointed by the governor general) and the House of Assembly (30 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly - last held 21 May 2003 (next to be held by May 2008)
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - BLP 23, DLP 7

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Judicature (judges are appointed by the Service Commissions for the Judicial and Legal Services)

Economy - overview:

Historically, the Barbadian economy had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but production in recent years has diversified into light industry and tourism. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises. The economy contracted in 2002-03 mainly due to a decline in tourism. Growth was positive in 2005, as economic conditions in the US and Europe moderately improved.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$4.841 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$2.977 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$17,400 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6%
industry: 16%
services: 78% (2000 est.)

Labor force:

128,500 (2001 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

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

Unemployment rate:

10.7% (2003 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

-0.5% (2003 est.)


revenues: $847 million (including grants)
expenditures: $886 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Agriculture - products:

sugarcane, vegetables, cotton


tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Industrial production growth rate:

-3.2% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:

819 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

761.7 million kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

1,000 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - consumption:

10,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

1.254 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

29.17 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

29.17 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

141.6 million cu m (1 January 2002)


$209 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

sugar and molasses, rum, other foods and beverages, chemicals, electrical components

Exports - partners:

US 20.6%, UK 14.5%, Trinidad and Tobago 13.9%, Saint Lucia 6.9%, Jamaica 6.6%, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 5.1% (2004)


$1.476 billion (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components

Imports - partners:

US 35.2%, Trinidad and Tobago 20%, UK 5.6%, Japan 4.3% (2004)

Debt - external:

$668 million (2003)

Economic aid - recipient:

$9.1 million (1995)

Currency (code):

Barbadian dollar (BBD)

Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March

Telephones - main lines in use:

135,700 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

200,100 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: NA
domestic: island-wide automatic telephone system
international: country code - 1-246; satellite earth stations - 1 (Intelsat -Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 2, FM 6, shortwave 0 (2004)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (plus two cable channels) (2004)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

241 (2005)

Internet users:

150,000 (2005)


1 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2005)


total: 1,600 km
paved: 1,600 km (2003)

Merchant marine:

total: 57 ships (1000 GRT or over) 450,391 GRT/703,307 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 12, cargo 32, chemical tanker 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 55 (The Bahamas 1, Canada 8, Greece 11, Lebanon 2, Monaco 1, Norway 24, UAE 1, UK 7)
registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

Royal Barbados Defense Force: Troops Command and Coast Guard (2005)

Military - note:

the Royal Barbados Defense Force includes a land-based Troop Command and a small Coast Guard; the primary role of the land element is to defend the island against external aggression; the Command consists of a single, part-time battalion with a small regular cadre that is deployed throughout the island; it increasingly supports the police in patrolling the coastline to prevent smuggling and other illicit activities (2005)

Disputes - international:

in 2005, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago agreed to compulsory international arbitration that will result in a binding award challenging whether the northern limit of Trinidad and Tobago's and Venezuela's maritime boundary extends into Barbadian waters and the southern limit of Barbadian traditional fishing; joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea

Illicit drugs:

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