Barbados is the most easterly island in the Caribbean chain standing at Latitude 13.04° North and Longitude 59.4° West. With 23 kilometres (14 miles) at its widest point and 34 kilometers (21 miles) long, it is a mere 432 square kilometres (166 square miles).

Most of the island is made up of soft marine deposits of coral limestone which gives way in the north-eastern part of the island to a terrain of clays and sandstones commonly referred to as the Scotland District. This area runs through the parishes of St. Joseph, St. John and St. Andrew, three (3) out of the eleven (11) parishes of the island.

Barbados has been described as flat and low lying, but in fact, it rises from west to east in a series of gentle terraces to its highest point of about 1100ft at Mount Hillaby in St. Andrew. The terrain dips in St. George to form the St. George Valley, separating the main limestone terraces from a lower limestone ridge in the Christ Church area.

Temperature and Rainfall

Barbados enjoys a stable climate. The temperature rarely falls below 23° C (73.4°F) or rises above 31° C (87.8°F).  Mid December to March is the cooler period.  There is a definite “wet season” from July to November and a “dry season” with minimum rainfall recorded in February and March.

Time Zone

Barbados falls within the Atlantic Standard Time Zone which corresponds to the Greenwich Mean Time minus 4 hours (GMT-4). Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Barbados.

Population

Barbados has an estimated population of 284,000 people.

Language

The official language of Barbados is English. There is also one (1) local dialect spoken called Bajan which is described as broken English.

 Political System

Barbados’ first Parliament was established in 1639 and is the third oldest Parliament in the Western Hemisphere. Since establishment of the Parliament, the country has enjoyed a tradition of representative government.   It is based on the Westminster model and the country is a member of the Commonwealth.  As one of the oldest democracies in the world, the country is recognized as one of the most politically stable countries.

Barbados gained its independence from Britain in 1966. For nearly 60 years, the country has been represented by two (2) major political parties, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Both parties are champions of democracy, the rule of law and the free-market economy, principles which have buttressed Barbados’ political stability and social and economic prosperity as a small island developing economy to date. The Honorable Freundel J. Stuart is currently the Prime Minister of Barbados and leader of the DLP which took 16 out of 30 seats in the February 2013 general elections.

Legal System

The justice system is broadly based on English Common Law, and is administered by the Supreme Court of Judicature, comprising the High Court and Court of Appeal. The Magistrates’ Court conducts preliminary hearings.

In 2005 the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, became the final court of appeal, replacing the Privy Council in the UK.

Economy

From the late 1950s, the Barbados Government has made significant efforts to diversify the economy. Sugar and tourism had both been and continue to be foreign-exchange earners, however the need to diversify, to expand the narrow resource base has driven the development of the international business and financial services sector.

The international business and financial services sector now contributes significantly to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and in fact Barbados is recognized as a major international business centre in the Region.

The major contributors to GDP in 2012 were finance and business services ($2.233.1 million), hotel and restaurant services ($965.9 million), Government services ($951.7 million), Transport, storage and communications ($846 million).

Since 2008 the Barbados economy has been faced with the most severe and sustained global economic crisis. As a response the Government has rolled out a Medium-Term Growth and Development Strategy 2013-2020 in an effort to jumpstart and sustain private sector led investment, productivity and export-driven growth based on an environmentally green and socially sustainable and equitable economy.

Infrastructure

Barbados’ infrastructure includes a good quality public transportation system, a wide road network, high quality ICT services and coverage, excellent supply of essential services such as water and electricity. The island is also served by regular scheduled flights to major cities in North America and Europe through the Grantley Adams International Airport.  The Bridgetown Port is one of the finest in the Southern Caribbean with world-class handling facilities for both cargo and cruise ships.

Currency

Barbados maintains a fixed exchange rate regime of two (2) Barbados dollars per US dollar.

Barbados – Regional & International Links

Barbados is also a member of several regional and international organizations, many of which are headquartered here. For more information please visit Barbados’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.