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CAPITAL: Bridgetown

FLAG: The national flag has three equal vertical bands of ultramarine blue, gold, and ultramarine blue and displays a broken trident in black on the center stripe.

ANTHEM: National Anthem of Barbados, beginning "In plenty and in time of need, when this fair land was young. … "

MONETARY UNIT: Officially introduced on 3 December 1973, the Barbados dollar (bds$) of 100 cents is a paper currency officially pegged to the US dollar. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents and 1 dollar, and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. bds$1 = us$0.50000 (or us$1 = bds$2; as of 2004).

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Errol Barrow Day, 23 January; May Day, 1 May; Kadooment Day, first Monday in August; CARICOM Day, 1 August; UN Day, first Monday in October; Independence Day, 30 November; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays are Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Whitmonday.

TIME: 8 am = noon GMT.


Situated about 320 km (200 mi) nne of Trinidad and about 160 km (100 mi) ese of St. Lucia, Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands. The island is 34 km (21 mi) long n – s and 23 km (14 mi) wide e – w, with an area of 430 sq km (166 sq mi) and a total coastline of 97 km (60 mi). Comparatively, Barbados occupies slightly less than 2.5 times the area of Washington, DC.

The capital city of Barbados, Bridgetown, is located on the country's southwestern coast.


The coast is almost entirely encircled with coral reefs. The only natural harbor is Carlisle Bay on the southwest coast. The land rises to 336 m (1,102 ft) at Mt. Hillaby in the parish of St. Andrew. In most other areas, the land falls in a series of terraces to a coastal strip or wide flat area.


The tropical climate is tempered by an almost constant sea breeze from the northeast in the winter and early spring, and from the southeast during the rest of the year. Temperatures range from 21 – 30 ° c (70 – 86 ° f). Annual rainfall ranges from about 100 cm (40 in) in some coastal districts to 230 cm (90 in) in the central ridge area. There is a wet season from June to December, but rain falls periodically throughout the year.


Palms, casuarina, mahogany, and almond trees are found on the island, but no large forest areas exist, most of the level ground having been turned over to sugarcane. The wide variety of flowers and shrubs includes wild roses, carnations, lilies, and several cacti. Natural wildlife is restricted to a few mammals and birds; finches, blackbirds, and moustache birds are common.


Principal environmental agencies are the Ministry of Housing, Lands, and Environment, established in 1978, and the Barbados Water Authority (1980). Soil erosion, particularly in the northeast, and coastal pollution from oil slicks are among the most significant environmental problems. The government of Barbados created a marine reserve to protect its coastline in 1980.

As of 2000, the most pressing environmental problems result from the uncontrolled handling of solid wastes, which contaminate the water supply. Barbados is also affected by air and water pollution from other countries in the area. Despite its pollution problems, 100% of Barbados' urban and rural populations have safe water.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 3 species of birds, 4 types of reptiles, 11 species of fish, 25 other invertebrates, and 4 species of plants. The Barbados yellow warbler, Eskimo curlew, tundra peregrine falcon, and Orinoco crocodile are endangered species. The Barbados raccoon has become extinct.


The population of Barbados in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 258,000, which placed it at number 171 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 12% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 22% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 94 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005 – 2010 was expected to be 0.6%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 272,000. The population density was 600 per sq km (1,554 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 50% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.42%. The capital city, Bridgetown, had a population of 140,000 in that year.


The estimated net migration rate for Barbados in 2005 was -0.31 migrants per 1,000 population. Foreign-born residents are mainly from the other countries in the region, such as St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Guyana. Extra-regional foreign-born residents are mainly from the United Kingdom, United States, and India. To meet the problem of overpopulation, the government encourages emigration. Most emigrants now resettle in the Caribbean region or along the eastern US coast. As of 2004, Barbados recorded a small refugee population of nine. Barbados was expected to receive greater numbers of asylum seekers in the future due to extra-regional migration to and migrant trafficking through the Caribbean.


About 90% of all Barbadians (colloquially called Bajans) are the descendants of former African slaves. Some 4% are of European descent and about 6% of the population are Asian or of mixed descent.


English, the official language, is spoken universally, with some local pronunciations.


Christianity is the dominant religion, with over 95% percent of the population claiming Christian affiliation, even if they are not active members of a particular denomination. The largest denomination is the Anglican Church, which has 70,000 members, about 65% of whom are considered active participants. The second-largest denomination is the Seventh-Day Adventists with 16,000 reported members. The Roman Catholic Church reports having 11,000 members, of whom about 20% are considered to be active participants. Pentecostals have a membership of about 7,000 with 50% active participation. There are about 5,000 Methodists with about 60% active participation. Of the 2,500 members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, 95% are active members. Other Christian denominations include Moravians, Baptists, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). About 17% of the population claims no religious affiliation and about 12% profess other faiths, including Islam, Baha'i, Judaism, Hinduism, and Rastafarianism (Nyabinghi school).

The constitution provides for religious freedom and the right is generally respected in practice. Interfaith associations promoting tolerance and mutual understanding include the Barbados Christian Council and the Caribbean Conference of Churches.


The highway system had a total length of 1,600 km (995 mi) in 2003, all of which was paved. There were 66,900 passenger cars and 13,200 commercial vehicles registered in 2003. Grantley Adams International Airport, situated 18 km (11 mi) southeast of Bridgetown, is the only airport. Barbados is served by 1 local and 14 international airlines. There is also a deep water harbor at Bridgetown, with berthing facilities for cruise ships and freighters. In 2005, Barbados had a merchant fleet of 58 ships of 1,000 GRT or over, totaling 427,465 GRT. The Barbados ships registry is the second Ships Registry worldwide that received Lloyd's Registry Quality Assurance approval under the Quality Management System Standard ISO 9002.


Barbados originally supported a considerable population of Arawak Indians, but invading Caribs decimated that population. By the time the British landed, near the site of present-day Holetown in 1625, the island was uninhabited. Almost 2,000 English settlers landed in 1627 – 28. Soon afterward, the island developed the sugar-based economy, supported by a slave population. Slavery was abolished in 1834 and the last slaves were freed in 1838.

During the following 100 years, the economic fortunes of Barbados fluctuated with alternating booms and slumps in the sugar trade. In 1876, the abortive efforts of the British to bring Barbados into confederation with the Windward Islands resulted in the "confederation riots."

In the 1930s, the dominance of plantation owners and merchants was challenged by a labor movement. Riots in 1937 resulted in the dispatch of a British Royal Commission to the West Indies and the gradual introduction of social and political reforms, culminating in the granting of universal adult suffrage in 1950. In 1958, Barbados became a member of the West Indies Federation, which was dissolved in 1962. The island was proclaimed an independent republic on 30 November 1966. Political stability has been maintained since that time. Barbados helped form CARICOM in 1973, the same year the nation began issuing its own currency. The country was a staging area in October 1983 for the US-led invasion of Grenada, in which Barbadian troops took part. In 1995 it was designated as a center for the Regional Security System, funded by the United States, which conducted military exercises in the region.

Laws enacted in the early 1980s led to the development of Barbados as an offshore business center in the 1980s and 1990s, although tourism remained the nation's primary source of revenue. The international recession of the early 1990s negatively affected the economy of Barbados, touching off a decline in tourism and other sectors, and leading to a crisis of confidence in the government. After a no-confidence vote on 7 June 1994, Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford dissolved the House of Assembly, the first time since independence that such an action had been taken, and a new government was installed following general elections in September. Economic recovery in the subsequent years helped Prime Minister Owen S. Arthur lead to BLP to a landslide victory in the 1999 elections. Prime Minister Arthur won the 2004 elections and was leading his country for the launch of a single CARICOM economic market scheduled to take place in 2005.

In 2004 Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago struggled bitterly over their maritime boundary and associated fishing rights. Barbados decided to submit the issue to binding arbitration in the United Nations. Barbados continued to experience an almost yearly rise in narcotics trafficking and violent crime. Joint patrols of the Royal Barbados Police Force and the all-volunteer Barbados Defense Force increased patrols of the island. Barbadian US-foreign policy was hampered somewhat as Barbados refused to agree to the immunity of US military personnel from proceedings in the International Criminal Court. The United States responded by suspending military equipment sales. As of late 2005, the two countries remained at an impasse over the issue.


The constitution of Barbados, which came into effect on 30 November 1966, provides for a crown-appointed governor-general (who in turn appoints an advisory Privy Council) and for independent executive, legislative, and judicial bodies. The bicameral legislature consists of a Senate and a House of Assembly. The Senate, appointed by the governor-general, has 21 members: 12 from the majority party, 2 from the opposition, and 7 of the governor-general's choice. The 28-member House of Assembly is elected at intervals of five years or less. The voting population is universal, with a minimum age of 18. The governor-general appoints as prime minister that member of the House of Assembly best able to command a majority. The prime minister's cabinet is drawn from elected members of the House of Assembly.


The leading political groups grew out of the labor movement of the 1930s. The Barbados Labor Party (BLP) was established in 1938 by Sir Grantley Adams. The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) split from the BLP in 1955. The National Democratic Party (NDP) was formed in 1989 by dissident members of the DLP. The parties reflect personal more than ideological differences.

Errol W. Barrow, the DLP leader, was prime minister from independence until 1976. The BLP succeeded him under J.M.G. ("Tom") Adams, the son of Grantley Adams. In 1981, the BLP retained its majority by 17 – 10, and Adams continued in that office until his death in 1985. On 28 May 1986, Barrow and the DLP won 24 House of Assembly seats to three for the BLP. After Barrow's death on 2 June 1987, Deputy Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford, minister of education and leader of the House of Assembly, assumed the prime ministership.

Despite the resignation of finance minister Dr. Richie Haynes in 1989, and his subsequent formation of the National Democratic Party, the DLP under Sandiford continued in power, retaining 18 of the now 28 seats in the House of Assembly. The BLP won the remaining 10 seats, leaving the dissident

NDP without any representation.

After losing a vote of confidence in the legislature on 7 June 1994, Sandiford dissolved the House of Assembly and scheduled a general election for September. The BLP won by an overwhelming margin, with 19 seats; the DLP won 8, and the NDP, 1. The BLP leader, Owen S. Arthur, became the new prime minister. The BLP swept the next elections, held in January 1999, winning 26 of the 28 House seats, while the DLP claimed only 2. The 2003 elections resulted in a slight loss for the BLP with 23 seats and the DLP with 7; the next elections were scheduled to take place in 2008.


All local governments, including those on the district and municipal levels, were abolished on 1 September 1969; their functions were subsumed by the national government. The country is divided into 11 parishes and the city of Bridgetown for administrative and electoral purposes.


The Barbados legal system is founded in British common law. The Supreme Court of Judicature sits as a high court and court of appeal; vested by the constitution with unlimited jurisdiction, it consists of a chief justice and three puisne judges, appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition party. Magistrate courts have both civil and criminal jurisdiction. On 9 June 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to hear many of the cases formerly brought to the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The first session of the CCJ was scheduled for November 2003. Eight nations — Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago — officially approved the CCJ, although 14 nations were planning to use the court for appeals.

The courts enforce respect for civil rights and assure a number of due process protections in criminal proceedings including a right of detainees to be brought before a judge within 72 hours of arrest. The Judiciary is independent and free from political influence.

In October 2002, Attorney General Mia Mottley announced that a National Commission

on Law and Order would be established to assist the government in achieving civil peace and harmony by promoting cultural renewal and social cohesion, thereby reducing crime and the fear of crime. The Commission published a National Plan on Justice, Peace and Security in June 2004 that included 68 recommendations on constitutional support for social institutions, governance and civil society, cultural values, law enforcement, and criminal courts.


In 2005 the armed forces numbered 610 active personnel and 430 reservists, of which 500 were in the Army and 110 in the Navy. The Navy was equipped with five patrol boats. The defense budget in 2005 was $14 million.


Barbados became a member of the United Nations (UN) on 9 December 1966 and belongs to several UN specialized agencies, such as the ILO, IMF, FAO, IFC, UNESCO, the World Bank, and WHO. The country joined the WTO on 1 January 1995. Barbados is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, ACP group, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Economic System (LAES), G-77, OAS, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Barbados was one of the founding members of CARICOM (1973). Barbados is part of the Nonaligned Movement and Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). In environmental cooperation, Barbados is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montr é al Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Sugar, rum, and molasses used to be Barbados' main sources of revenue. In recent years, however, economic activity has focused more on light industry and tourism. Offshore finance and information services also contribute to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), providing an important source of foreign reserve holdings.

The dependence on tourism and foreign exchange makes Barbados vulnerable to shifts in the global economic climate. That became especially clear in 2002 – 03 when a worldwide slowdown in tourism that accompanied the 11 September 2001 attacks on the Unites States hit the Caribbean country's economy hard. The economy suffered a severe decline in foreign investment and went into recession as a result. Conditions began to improve with the recovery of tourism in 2003 and 2004. GDP grew at a 3.4% rate in 2004 and at a more modest 2.5% rate in 2005.

The 2005 figures indicated that Barbados still had not recovered from the earlier slowdown. Through the mid-1990s to early 2000, GDP growth averaged 3.4% annually, and hit 5% in 2000. Yet, the country has managed to keep its historically high unemployment rate in check. Inflation also has remained relatively low, coming in at a manageable 2.4% in 2004.

The transition from an economy dependent upon sugar production to one more oriented toward tourism has helped make Barbados one of the most prosperous nations in the western hemisphere, besides the United States and Canada. Per capita GDP was $17,300 in 2005. For the short term, much of Barbados' economic activity has been focused on tourism development. The country is scheduled to host several games and the final of the World Cricket Match in 2007. Much of the country's construction work has been aimed at accommodating an anticipated influx of visitors.

Services — of which the largest sector for Barbados is tourism — comprised 83% of the country's GDP in 2004, with industry (12%) and agriculture (4%) lagging significantly behind.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Barbados's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $4.8 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $17,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 2.5%. The average inflation rate in 2003 was -0.5%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 6% of GDP, industry 16%, and services 78%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $97 million or about $358 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.7% of GDP.


The total labor force as of 2001 was estimated at 128,500. In 1996 (the latest year for which data was available), it was estimated that the service sector accounted for 75% of the labor force, industry 15%, and agriculture 10%. Unemployment, traditionally high, was estimated at 10.7% in 2003.

There is one major union, the Barbados Workers' Union, and several smaller specialized ones. As of 2005, about 19% of the workforce was organized, and were concentrated in important sectors of the economy such as agriculture, transportation and the government. Workers freely enjoy the right to organize and join unions, and unions (except in certain "essential" sectors) are not restricted in their right to strike. Trade unions are affiliated with a variety of regional and international labor organizations, and the Caribbean Congress of Labor has its center of operations in Barbados.

The standard legal workweek is five days and 40 hours, with overtime pay required for additional hours worked. In addition, all overtime is voluntary. A minimum of a three-week paid holiday each year (four weeks for those employed at least five years) is required by law. There is a legal minimum work age of 16, which is generally observed, and is reinforced by compulsory primary and secondary educational rules. The law sets the minimum wage for only household domestics and shop assistants, which (as of 2005) was $2.50 per hour.


About 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres), or 39.5% of the total land area, are classified as arable. At one time, nearly all arable land was devoted to sugarcane, but the percentage devoted to ground crops for local consumption has been increasing. In 2004, 361,200 tons of sugarcane were produced, down from the annual average of 584,000 tons in 1989 – 91. In 2004, sugar exports amounted to us$22.4 million, or 8% of total exports. Major food crops are yams, sweet potatoes, corn, eddo, cassava, and several varieties of beans. Some cotton is also grown.


The island must import large quantities of meat and dairy products. Most livestock is owned by individual households. Estimates for 2004 showed 9,000 head of cattle, 13,500 sheep, 18,500 hogs, 5,100 goats, and 3,370,000 chickens. Poultry production in 2004 included 13,300 tons of meat and 1,928 tons of hen eggs.


The fishing industry employs about 2,000 persons, and the fleet consists of more than 500 powered boats. The catch in 2003 was 2,500 metric tons. Flying fish, dolphinfish, tuna, turbot, kingfish, and swordfish are among the main species caught. A fisheries terminal complex opened at Oistins in 1983.


Fewer than 20 hectares (50 acres) of original forests have survived the 300 years of sugar cultivation. There are an estimated 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres) of forested land, covering about 12% of the total land area. Roundwood production in 2003 totaled 5,000 cu m (176,500 cu ft), and imports amounted to 5,000 cu m (176,500 cu ft). In 2003, Barbados imported us$25.9 million in wood and forest products.


Deposits of limestone and coral were quarried to meet local construction needs. Production of limestone in 2003 amounted to 1.23 million metric tons. Clays and shale, sand and gravel, and carbonaceous deposits provided limited yields. Preliminary production figures for hydraulic cement in 2003 totaled 330,000 metric tons. Hydraulic cement output in 2002 totaled 297,667 metric tons.


Electricity supply and distribution is managed by Barbados Light and Power, a private company under government concession. Production in 2002 totaled 800 million kWh, with consumption at 744 million kWh for that year. Capacity in 2002 stood at 166,000 kW. Fossil fuels met 100% of energy demand (petroleum roughly 95% and natural gas the remainder). The world oil crisis of the mid-1970s initiated an active search for commercial deposits of oil and natural gas. Limited pockets of natural gas were discovered, and oil was found in St. Philip Parish. Daily oil production in 2004 averaged 1,000 barrels; natural gas production was 1 billion cu ft in 2003. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, proven oil reserves in 2005 totaled 2.9 million barrels. Barbados's oil is refined in Trinidad. As of the beginning of 2000, Barbados was planning to privatize its energy companies, including the National Petroleum Corporation and the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC).


Although tourism is the main economic driver, Barbados was gradually developing a healthy offshore banking and financial services sector. The sugar industry made up less than 1% of the country's GDP and employed about 800 people in a labor force of 146,3000 in 2004.

Barbadian tourism has benefited from continued income growth in its major source markets and dynamic marketing efforts by the national authorities. The United Kingdom is the largest market for Barbados, providing about one-third of all overnight visitors to the island. The construction industry has grown as a result of tourism-related construction projects (such as a hotel, golf course, condominiums, and a marina), in addition to a series of public works projects. Barbados also has garment and furniture making enterprises.


Barbadian learned societies include the Barbados Astronomical Society and the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society, founded in 1956 and 1948 respectively. The Bellairs Research Institute, associated with McGill University in Montr é al, is a center for the study of the tropical environment. The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies has faculties in medicine (located in Bridgetown, founded in 1963) and social sciences. Barbados Community College, founded in 1968, offers training in science and technology. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society, in St. Ann's Garrison, established in 1933, has collections illustrating the island's geology, prehistory, natural history, and marine life.


Domestic trade is centered on fish, fruit, and vegetable markets, as well as tourism-related shopping. Many food products and other consumer goods are imported. General business is conducted on weekdays from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Most shops are also open Saturdays from 8 am to noon. Banks are open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 3 pm and Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.

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