Country Information Database


Barbados Country Information

Flag of Barbados
Map of Barbados
Introduction Barbados
The 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 Barbados
Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates:
13 10 N, 59 32 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 431 sq km
land: 431 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
97 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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
Land use:
arable land: 37.21%
permanent crops: 2.33%
other: 60.46% (2005)
Irrigated land:
50 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
0.1 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.09 cu km/yr (33%/44%/22%)
per capita: 333 cu m/yr (2000)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
easternmost Caribbean island
People 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) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 35.4 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 36.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.36% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
12.48 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
8.58 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.05 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.21 years
male: 71.2 years
female: 75.24 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.65 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
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% (2008 est.)
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.7% (2002 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2001)
Education expenditures:
6.9% of GDP (2005)
Government Barbados
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Barbados
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
name: Bridgetown
geographic coordinates: 13 06 N, 59 37 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
11 parishes and 1 city*; Bridgetown*, Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas
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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
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 seats; members appointed by the governor general - 12 on the advice of the Prime Minister, 2 on the advice of the opposition leader, and 7 at his discretion) and the House of Assembly (30 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly - last held 15 January 2008 (next to be called in 2013)
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - DLP 52.5%, BLP 47.3%; seats by party - DLP 20, BLP 10
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Judicature (judges are appointed by the Service Commissions for the Judicial and Legal Services); Caribbean Court of Justice is the highest court of appeal
Political parties and leaders:
Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]; Democratic Labor Party or DLP [David THOMPSON]; People's Empowerment Party or PEP [David COMISSIONG]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Barbados Secondary Teachers' Union or BSTU [Patrick FROST]; Barbados Union of Teachers or BUT [Herbert GITTENS]; Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados or CTUSAB, (includes the BWU, NUPW, BUT, and BSTU) [Leroy TROTMAN]; Barbados Workers Union or BWU [Leroy TROTMAN]; Clement Payne Labor Union [David COMISSIONG]; National Union of Public Workers [Joseph GODDARD]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael Ian KING
chancery: 2144 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-9200
FAX: [1] (202) 332-7467
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
consulate(s): Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mary M. OURISMAN
embassy: U.S. Embassy, Wildey Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael
mailing address: P. O. Box 302, Bridgetown; CMR 1014, APO AA 34055
telephone: [1] (246) 436-4950
FAX: [1] (246) 429-5246, 429-3379
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), gold, and blue with the head of a black trident centered on the gold band; the trident head represents independence and a break with the past (the colonial coat of arms contained a complete trident)
Economy Barbados
Economy - overview:
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$5.31 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$3.739 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$18,900 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 16%
services: 78% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
128,500 (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 10%
industry: 15%
services: 75% (1996 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10.7% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.5% (2007 est.)
revenues: $847 million (including grants)
expenditures: $886 million (2000 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, vegetables, cotton
tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export
Industrial production growth rate:
-3.2% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
953 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
886.3 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
1,002 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption:
9,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
1,666 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
7,071 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
2.5 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
27.97 million cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
27.97 million cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
135.8 million cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$254 million (2007 est.)
$385 million (2006)
Exports - commodities:
manufactures, sugar and molasses, rum, other foods and beverages, chemicals, electrical components
Exports - 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% (2007)
$1.586 billion (2006)
Imports - commodities:
consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components
Imports - partners:
US 29.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 26.9%, UK 6.4% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$2.07 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$620 million (2007)
Debt - external:
$668 million (2003)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$5.513 billion (2005)
Currency (code):
Barbadian dollar (BBD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Barbadian dollars per US dollar - NA (2007), 2 (2006), 2 (2005), 2 (2004), 2 (2003)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Barbados
Telephones - main lines in use:
134,900 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
237,100 (2006)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 50 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density of about 85 per 100 persons
domestic: island-wide automatic telephone system
international: country code - 1-246; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad; satellite earth stations - 1 (Intelsat -Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 6, shortwave 0 (2004)
237,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus 2 cable channels) (2004)
76,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
104 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)
Internet users:
160,000 (2005)
Transportation Barbados
1 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
total: 1,600 km
paved: 1,600 km (2004)
Merchant marine:
total: 87 ships (1000 GRT or over) 649,440 GRT/941,329 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 15, cargo 52, chemical tanker 6, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 82 (Canada 12, Greece 12, India 1, Lebanon 1, Norway 40, Sweden 7, Syria 1, UK 8)
registered in other countries: 1 (St Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Military Barbados
Military branches:
Royal Barbados Defense Force: Troops Command, Barbados Coast Guard (2007)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (younger requires parental consent); no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 75,265
females age 16-49: 75,389 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 58,556
females age 16-49: 58,143 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 2,157
female: 2,155 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.5% of GDP (2006 est.)
Military - note:
the Royal Barbados Defense Force includes a land-based Troop Command and a small Coast Guard; the primary role of the land element is to defend the island against external aggression; the Command consists of a single, part-time battalion with a small regular cadre that is deployed throughout the island; it increasingly supports the police in patrolling the coastline to prevent smuggling and other illicit activities (2007)
Transnational Issues Barbados
Disputes - international:
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago abide by the April 2006 Permanent Court of Arbitration decision delimiting a maritime boundary and limiting catches of flying fish in Trinidad and Tobago's exclusive economic zone; joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea
Illicit drugs:
one of many Caribbean transshipment points for narcotics bound for Europe and the US; offshore financial center

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Wed, 06 Dec 2023 23:30:07 +0000