Facts about Barbados

World Facts Index

BarbadosThe 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.

Geography of Barbados

Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
13 10 N, 59 32 W
total: 431 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 431 sq km
Area comparative:
2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
97 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 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
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

Population of Barbados

281,968 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.3% (male 27,270/female 27,193)
15-64 years: 71.7% (male 99,357/female 102,683)
65 years and over: 9% (male 9,856/female 15,609)
Median age:
35.4 years
Infant mortality:
11.05 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.21 years
male: 71.2 years
female: 75.24 years
Total fertility rate:
1.65 children born/woman
noun: Barbadian(s) or Bajan (colloquial)
adjective: Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)
Ethnic groups:
black 90%, white 4%, Asian and mixed 6%
Protestant 63.4% (Anglican 28.3%, Pentecostal 18.7%, Methodist 5.1%, other 11.3%), Roman Catholic 4.2%, other Christian 7%, other 4.8%, none or unspecified 20.6%
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.7%


Country name:
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
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sir Clifford Straughn HUSBANDS (since 1 June 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister David THOMPSON (since 16 January 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
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)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Judicature (judges are appointed by the Service Commissions for the Judicial and Legal Services)


Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, production in recent years has diversified into light industry and tourism, with about three-quarters of GDP and 80% of exports being attributed to services. Growth has rebounded since 2003, bolstered by increases in construction projects and tourism revenues - reflecting its success in the higher-end segment. The country enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region and an investment grade rating which benefits from its political stability and stable institutions. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners and thrive from having the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and a relatively highly educated workforce. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises.

$5.31 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 16%
services: 78%
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
services 75%, industry 15%, agriculture 10%
revenues: $847 million (including grants)
expenditures: $886 million
tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0%
sugarcane, vegetables, cotton
sugar and molasses, rum, other foods and beverages, chemicals, electrical components
Export partners:
Trinidad and Tobago 18.4%, UK 11.2%, US 11%, Saint Lucia 8.6%, Jamaica 8%, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 5.3%, Antigua and Barbuda 4.3%, Saint Kitts & Nevis 4.1%
consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components
Import partners:
US 29.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 26.9%, UK 6.4%
Barbadian dollar (BBD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

Copyright 2004 - 2008 worldfacts.us