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Whitaker's Almanack: Barbados

Information on Barbados

See also QFINANCE article

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 430 sq. km
  • Capital – Bridgetown, in the parish of St Michael; population, 112,154 (2009)
  • Currency – Barbados dollar (BD$) of 100 cents
  • Population – 287,733 rising at 0.35 per cent a year (2012 est)
  • Religion – Christian 75 per cent (Protestant 63 per cent, of which the largest denomination is Anglican), Muslim 1 per cent (2008 est)
  • Language – English (official)
  • Population density – 636 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 40.8 per cent (2010)
  • Median age (years) – 36.5 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'In Plenty and in Time of Need'
  • National day – 30 November (Independence Day)
  • Death penalty – Retained
  • CPI score – 7.8 (2011)

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Climate and Terrain

Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands. The land rises gently to central highlands, and elevation extremes range from 336m (Mt Hillaby) to 0m (Atlantic Ocean). The climate is tropical with a wet season from July to November, when the island is subject to occasional hurricanes.

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History and Politics

Early settlers were succeeded by the Arawaks and then the Caribs. The island was uninhabited when settled by the English in 1627 and was a crown colony from 1652, achieving self-government in 1961. It became an independent state on 30 November 1966.

Since independence, power has alternated between the two main political parties, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). In the 2008 general election the BLP was defeated by the DLP, which won 20 of the 30 seats and took office under David Thompson. He died in October 2010 and was succeeded as prime minister by his deputy, Freundel Stuart.

The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the governor-general. The bicameral parliament consists of a senate of 21 appointed members and a House of Assembly of 30 directly elected members; both chambers serve a five-year term.

There are 11 administrative areas (parishes): St Michael, Christ Church, St Andrew, St George, St James, St John, St Joseph, St Lucy, St Peter, St Philip and St Thomas.

Governor-General, HE Sir Elliott Belgrave, GCMG, apptd June 2012


Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart
Attorney-General, Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite
Finance, Christopher Sinckler
Foreign Affairs, Maxine McClean


1 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3ND
T 020-7631 4975 E
High Commissioner, HE Hugh Arthur, apptd 2008


PO Box 676, Lower Collymore Rock, Bridgetown
T (+1) (246) 430 7800 E W
High Commissioner, HE Paul Brummell, apptd 2009

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Aged 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service73,82073,835
Fit for military service58,12558,016

Military budget – US$34m (2010)

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Economy and Trade

Historically, Barbados’s chief products were sugar, rum and molasses. Since independence, tourism, offshore finance and information services, and light industry have become more significant. The global economic downturn affected tourism in particular, causing the economy to contract in 2009.

The main trading partners are Trinidad and Tobago, the USA and Jamaica. Chief exports are manufactured goods, sugar and molasses, rum, other food and beverages, chemicals and electronic components.

GNI – US$3,517m (2009); US$12,660 per capita (2009)
Annual average growth of GDP – 1.8 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 7.4 per cent (2011 est)
Unemployment – 10.7 per cent (2003 est)
Total external debt – US$668m (2003)
Imports – US$1,562m (2010)
Exports – US$429m (2010)


Trade – US$1,133m deficit (2010)
Current Account – US$247m deficit (2009)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£40,467,489£42,324,513
Exports to UK£19,506,750£29,620,977

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Airports – The Grantley Adams International near Bridgetown is the only international airport on the island

Waterways – Bridgetown, the only port of entry, has a deep-water harbour

Roadways – There are 1,600km of roads, all of which are surfaced

Telecommunications – 137,500 fixed lines and 350,100 mobile phone subscriptions (2010); there were 188,000 internet users in 2008

Internet country code and IDD – bb; 1 246 (from UK), 011 44 (to UK)

Major broadcasters – Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, which also operates MCTV, a multi-channel and pay TV service

Press – Major newspapers include The Barbados Advocate and The Nation

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Education and Health

Education is free in government schools at primary (ages four to 11), secondary (ages 11 to 18) and tertiary levels, and is compulsory until the age of 15.

Literacy rate – 99.7 per cent (2004 est)
Life expectancy (years) – 74.52 (2012 est)
Mortality rate – 8.39 (2012 est)
Birth rate – 12.23 (2012 est)
Infant mortality rate – 11.86 (2011 est)
HIV/AIDS adult prevalence – 1.4 per cent (2009 est)

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