Barbados, an island nation in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 1,600 miles (2,600 km) east-southeast of Florida. Barbados is 21 miles (34 km) long and up to 14 miles (23 km) wide, and has an area of 166 square miles (430 km2). The island is composed chiefly of coral limestone and is almost completely surrounded by reefs. From flat sandy beaches and coastal lowlands the land rises gently to a central ridge. Mount Hillaby, the highest point, reaches 1,104 feet (336 m).
|Facts in brief about Barbados|
|Official language: English.|
|Area: 166 mi2 (430 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 21 mi (34 km); east-west, 14 mi (23 km). Coastline—56 mi (90 km).|
|Population: Current estimate—282,000; population density, 1,699 per mi2 (656 per km2); distribution, 53 percent rural, 47 percent urban. 2000 census—268,792.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—carrots, corn, milk, pork, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, yams. Fishing—flyingfish. Manufacturing and processing—chemicals, clothing, electronic products, sugar.|
|Flag: The flag of Barbados has three wide, vertical stripes. the two outer stripes are blue (for the sea and sky) and the center stripe is orange (for the sand of the beaches). A black trident head with a broken shaft is in the center. It stands for Neptune, the sea god, and for the change from dependence to independence.|
|Money: Basic unit—Barbados dollar. One hundred cents equal one dollar.|
Barbados has a tropical climate, with average temperatures varying from 77° F. (25° C.) in January to 81° F. (27° C.) in July. Rainfall averages 50 to 75 inches (1,270 to 1,905 mm) a year, depending on location.
For many years, the economy of Barbados was based heavily on the cultivation of sugarcane and related activities such as the production of raw sugar, rum, and molasses, and on subsistence farming. Raw sugar was by far the leading export, after it was introduced in about 1640. The island's economy is now more diversified, although the sugar industry remains significant. During the peak season in May, most of Barbados’s farmers are engaged in sugar plantations. Service industries, especially tourism, are now the chief sources of employment, and tourism is the nation's chief source of foreign exchange.
Farmers produce such food crops as carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, and yams in small farms. Livestock is also important, and the farmers raise pigs for meat, and cows for milk. Barbadians catch flying fish and other fish for sale locally.
By value, manufactured goods are the most important exports. Manufacturing is done primarily by foreign companies in assembly plants using imported parts. Electronic equipment and clothing are major products. There are plants that produce edible oils, lard and margarine. Barbados’s main trading partners are the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and the United States. It imports food, fuels, and manufactured goods.
Many foreign companies, including financial and insurance firms, have been attracted to Barbados because of its lenient tax laws. Petroleum and natural gas are produced in small amounts.Barbados is an island country in the Caribbean Sea.
There are about 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) of paved roads in Barbados, though there are no railways. An international airport is near Crane and a seaport at Bridgetown, the capital. The basic monetary unit is the Barbados dollar.
About 95 per cent of the Barbadians are of African or mixed African and European ancestry. The rest are mainly of British origin. In 1997 Barbados had a population of 266,100, with a density of 1,602 persons per square mile (619 per km2)—one of the highest in the world.
English is the official language. Nearly all the people are Christians, mainly Anglicans. Education is free and compulsory from age 5 to age 16, and more than 95 per cent of the people are literate. A branch of the University of the West Indies is here.
Barbados has a parliamentary system of government or constitutional monarchy. The cabinet, headed by a prime minister, is responsible to a two-house parliament, and together they govern the country. The prime minister is usually the leader of the political party having the largest number of members in the House of Assembly
The parliament has a 21-member Senate, 12 of whom are elected on the advice of the prime minister, and a 28-member House of Assembly, whose members are elected on the basis of popular votes. All members of parliament are to serve for a maximum of five years. As a member of the British Commonwealth, the nation has a governor-general who represents the British crown. All citizens over the age of 18 years can vote in the general elections.