Barbados is a flat coral and limestone island in the Lesser Antilles, which was pushed away by volcanic activity. It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres (62mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea. It is 168 kilometres (104 mi) east of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and 400 kilometres (250mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago.
Barbados is 21 miles long by 14 miles wide at widest point – 166 square miles. The country is divided into eleven parishes; Saint Lucy, Saint Peter, Saint James, St. Thomas, Saint Andrew, Saint Joseph, Saint John, Saint George, Saint Michael, Christ Church and Saint Philip. Saint George and Saint Thomas are inland, and do not touch the coast line.
The Capital of Barbados is Bridgetown, located on the south-west coast in the parish of Saint Michael. Locals refers to Bridgetown as “town” even though they are three smaller towns on the island; Oistins, Holetown and Speightstown.
The National Flag of Barbados comprises of three equal vertical panels. The centre of the panel is gold, representing the sand of the island beaches, the outer panels are ultramarine, representing the sea and the sky, and a black broken trident located in the centre of the flag represents the Trident of the mythical sea god, Neptune. The shaft is broken and symbolises Barbados’ break from Britain.
The National Dish is Cou-Cou and Flying Fish. It is made with cornmeal and okras, and is accompanied by steamed flying fish. The meal is prepared with fresh tomatoes, onions, chives, thyme, pepper garlic and other fresh herbs and spices. On weekends, it has been a tradition for many Barbadians to eat ‘pudding and souse’. This dish is made from steamed sweet potato and soused pork.
The highest point is Mount Hillaby on the east coast, in the parish of Saint Andrew, which is 1,089 feet. The climate ranges between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with a gentle breeze from the north east trade winds. In Barbados, there are two seasons, wet/rainy and dry. The dry season is from January to June and the wet/rainy season is from July to December. However, with climate change, the rainy season may last longer.
Coral reefs fringe the Barbados shoreline to provide excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. There are many excellent beaches, rolling hills and interesting distributions of flora and fauna. Within the Barbados coral core, there is a vast array of caves and underground lakes which provide an excellent supply of drinking water, amongst the purest in the world. Geologically, Barbados is seen as unique, since it evolved from two land masses that merged over a period of time.
Barbados has a population of around 280,000 people, who are considered friendly by many visitors to the island. Barbadians are very proud of their country and enjoy educating visitors about their heritage and history. The official language is English, but a Barbadian dialect is spoken, commonly referred to by local residents as ‘Bajan’. Bajan often seems like a language of its own.
Barbados gained its independence from Britain in 1966 and maintains the British style of government with a Prime Minister and two parliamentary houses – The House of Assembly and the Senate. The parliamentary building is located in Bridgetown. Barbados has the third oldest parliament building in the world with 358 years of uninterrupted parliamentary system of government. The Governor General represents the crown.
Barbados’ Human Development Index value in 2011 was 0.793, in the very high human development category – positioning the country at 47 out of 187 countries and territories.
- Time Difference – 4 hours behind GMT, no changes made for daylight saving, therefore 1 hour ahead of US Eastern Standard Time in the winter.
- English common law legal system
- The Barbados Head of Government and Prime Minister is The Honourable Freundel Stuart.
- The Head of State is the Governor Genera and currently acting in the post is the Retired High Court Judge, The Honourable Justice Elliot Fitzroy Belgrave.
- The Leader of the Opposition, is The Right Honourable Owen Arthur.
- Industry – Tourism, Sugar, Rum, Light Manufacturing, Component Assembly for Export.