Geography and Landscape
Barbados is the easternmost island of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. The island is shaped like an avocado and is located approximately 175 kilometers east of St. Vincent in the Atlantic Ocean. Barbados covers an area of 431 square kilometers and is approximately thirty kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide.
Barbados Satellite ImagePhoto: Public domain
Barbados LandscapePhoto: Postdlf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The island was created from a coral reef that has risen above sea level. The landscape is generally quite flat. Only inland are some hills, of which Mount Hillaby is the highest at 336 meters.
The west coast of the island consists largely of sandy beaches. Most hotels are also located here. The northeast coast is jagged and rugged and littered with rocks and debris. The southeastern part is quieter and has only beautiful sandy beaches, including the famous Crane Beach. The capital Bridgetown is located on a bay on the southwest coast.
Climate and Weather
Barbados SunsetPhoto: Berit CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Barbados has a pleasant climate with temperatures between 24 and 29 degrees. The annual number of sunshine hours is more than three thousand. The tropical heat is wonderfully softened by a constant sea breeze. At night, the temperature rarely drops below twenty degrees. The rainy season is from July to November. During this period there is an occasional refreshing, short shower. The island lies outside the so-called Hurricane Belt and therefore has nothing to fear from the annually recurring hurricanes that can ravage the Caribbean. The best time to travel is between January and May, the driest period in Barbados.
Plants and Animals
Andromeda Botanical Gardens BarbadosPhoto: Postdlf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The flora is highly dependent on rainfall. The warm summers give Barbados an arid impression. The flowers bloom from September to the end of April. Especially the botanical gardens of Andromeda Gardens are worth a visit during this period. This also applies to the Flower Forest with its colorful, exotic plants and flowers. A walk through the dense forests of Welchman Hall Gully and Turners Hall Woods is an experience for the adventurous hiker. The following plants and trees are common in Barbados: casuarina, flamboyant, frangipani, ixora, mahogany, mango and palm.
Barbados Green MonkeyPhoto: Postdlf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The fauna is very limited in Barbados. Many goats are loose. In the Barbados Wildlife Reserve in the north, the unique Barbados green monkey can be admired. The ancestors of this monkey species come from West Africa. Over time, the animal posed a threat to agriculture and was widely hunted for a long time. It is currently estimated that there are approximately five thousand green monkeys in the wild on Barbados.
Animals found in Barbados include monkey, tree frog, goat, hare, hummingbird, mongoose, heron and raccoon.
Just off the west coast is a beautiful coral reef where many types of coral and colorful fish can be admired.
Barbados Map 1736Photo: Public domain
The population of Barbados consists mainly of descendants of African slaves and mulattoes. The island used to be inhabited by the Arowak Indians who have become extinct due to European diseases and the harsh conditions under which they had to perform slave labor. As in many other Caribbean countries, slaves were imported from Africa. The island was visited by the Spaniards and the Portuguese, after which the country was occupied by the British in 1627. On April 16, 1816, the worst slave revolt in Barbados started, led by Bussa. Slavery was finally abolished in 1838. Barbados was briefly a member of the West Indian Federation (1958 - 1962) and eventually gained self-government in 1961. In 1962 the elections were won by the Democratic Labor Party, led by Errol Walton Barrow, who became Prime Minister after independence on 30 June. November 1966. Owen Arthur of the Labor Party has been Prime Minister since 1998
David Thompson BarbadosPhoto: Edgar Alberto Domínguez Cataño CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
In January 2008, Labor again wins elections and David Thompson becomes prime minister. Thompson wins a vote of no confidence that the opposition had raised for his handling of the financial crisis. David Thompson dies in October 2010 and is succeeded by Freundel Stuart. In February 2013, the ruling DLP narrowly wins. In March 2014, the government announced that it would abolish the death penalty. In April 2015, Biiliton obtained a concession to search for oil in the waters southeast of Barbados. The 2018 election is convincingly won by the BLP and Mia Mottley becomes the new prime minister.
Outgoing Governor-General Sandra Mason, the last representative of the British Crown, became the first president of Barbados in November 2021. She was chosen by parliament the previous month. Despite deciding to become a republic in 2020, Barbados will remain a member of the Commonwealth.
Barbados SchoolchildrenPhoto: Postdlf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The population density is 669 / km² (2017). The country is thus overpopulated, and the population is still increasing, with a growth rate of 0.28% per year (2017). Life expectancy is 75.5 years (2017).
Barbados currently has 292,363 (2017) inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated islands in the Caribbean. More than 31% of the population lives in the city or in the suburbs of Bridgetown. The non-urban part of the population mainly lives in wooden houses around the large farms. There are only a few villages with stone houses. About ninety percent of the population was born out of wedlock. Often only the mother and grandmother are involved in the upbringing, the father plays only a minor role.
The inhabitants of Barbados are largely Black and call themselves Bayans. This name, like the name of the island, is derived from the trees that the Portuguese found here when they discovered the island.
English Language MapPhoto: Kobolen CC3.0 Unported no changes made
The official language of Barbados is English. English is used in legal matters. In business and education, in the media and in public services, both as written and spoken language. Although English has official language status, it is not as widely spoken among the islanders as the Bajan dialect.
In an informal setting, Bajan is mainly spoken, which is an English-based creole language. Bajan is recognized among islanders as their native language and an integral part of their culture.
Saint Andrew Parish Church, BarbadosPhoto: Postdlf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
About 49.4% of the population is Christian. Besides the Anglicans (26.3%) there are many Christians in Barbados who belong to the so-called revival churches.
- Anglican Church 26.6%
- Pentecostal Church 10.6%
- Methodism 5.7%
- Roman Catholic Church 4.8%
- other Christian 2%
Besides Christianity, one also finds other religions in Barbados, such as Hinduism and Islam.
Barbados Parliament BuildingPhoto: David Broad CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Barbados has been an independent constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations since 1966. The British Queen is the head of state and is represented by a Governor General. The Legislative Assembly (one of the oldest in the Commonwealth - 1629) is elected for a term of five years and consists of two chambers. Barbados is administratively divided into twelve municipalities, which come under the direct responsibility of the central government. Executive power is in the hands of the Prime Minister and the cabinet. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party. The parliament consists of two chambers. The lower house, the Assemblée, consists of 30 members. They are elected by universal suffrage. The House of Lords, the Senate, consists of 21 members. They are appointed by the Governor General. The current political situation is described in the chapter history.
Barbados is affiliated with the United Nations and a number of its sub-organizations, the Commonwealth and the CARICOM (Caribbean Community). Barbados is also an associate member of the European Union. Although political power is in the hands of the black population, the economic power largely rests with a small, mainly white (foreign) elite.
Barbados ExportPhoto: R Haussmann, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al. CCA 3.0 Unported no changes made
The economy of resource-poor Barbados is quite diverse. Trade and services, industry, government services and tourism are the main components of the gross national product. Until the 1960s, the economy was based entirely on the sugar industry. The government is also promoting diversification within the agricultural sector. In addition to sugar, corn, cotton, onions, peanuts and fruit are also grown. People are trying to become self-sufficient with regard to fish consumption. The island has a Gross National Product per capita of $ 17,500 per inhabitant (situation in 2017).
In the industrial sector, the petroleum industry and the processing industry (rum, electronics, textiles and chemicals) are important. To attract foreign investors, the government offers, among other things, tax facilities and a toll-free import of raw materials. Financial services (offshore) are growing rapidly. High expectations are held for computer technology and knowledge. The balance of payments is in chronic deficit. Total external debt amounts to about ninety percent of the gross national product.
Holidays and Sightseeing
Barbados Street scenePhoto: Ranveig (CC BY-SA 4.0) no changes made
Barbados is only a small island, but it has something for everyone. A rich and varied coastline lapped by warm seawater or with a wild surf, lush, hilly interior and a fascinating history. The fantastic tropical climate with only minor seasonal variations attracts bathers from all over the world. The average temperature in Barbados is around 28 °C all year round.
Harrison's Cave BarbadosPhoto: Berit CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
One of the sights of Barbados is Harrison's Cave, caves up to a hundred meters high with beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations, which can largely be viewed by train. Geologically, Harrison's Cave is linked to Welchman Hall Gully Nature Park.
One of the oldest parliament buildings in the world is Barbados, where the English influences are clearly recognizable. St. Nicholas Abbey is a 1660 mansion with a rum distillery and steam mill, as well as a rum and sugar museum. One of the oldest churches in the Caribbean is St. James Church (ca. 1660).
Miami Beach BarbadosPhoto:Joe Ross CC BY-SA 2.0 no changes made
In the town of Oistins, in the south of Barbados, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Barbados, Miami Beach, but Accra Beach is also very popular. The Animal Flower Cave, with beautiful coral and sea anemones, is a sea cave located a few meters above the Atlantic Ocean. Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is a protected area with forests, lakes and a rich fauna (birds) and flora, including red and white mangrove.
South of Bridgetown, between St. Lawrence Bay and Dover Beach, the mile-long St. Lawrence Gap Street is home to the best restaurants, nightclubs and discos. The main square of Bridgetown, like London's Trafalgar Square, is also home to a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson, erected in 1813. Trafalgar Square is also home to the Dolphin Fountain, a fountain created in 1861. The history of Barbados is on display in Barbados Museum, which also hosts concerts and plays.
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