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Coordinates: 13°10′N 59°33′W

Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Pride and Industry"
Anthem:  In Plenty and in Time of Need
and largest city
13°06′N 59°37′W
Official languages English
Recognised regional languages Bajan
Ethnic groups (2000)
  • 80% Afro-Bajan
  • 16% Asian / multiracial
  • 4% European
Demonym Barbadian
Bajan ( colloquial)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor-General Elliott Belgrave
 -  Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house House of Assembly
 -  from the United Kingdom 30 November 1966 
 -  Total 431 km2 ( 200th)
166 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2010 estimate 274,200 ( 181st)
 -  Density 660/km2 ( 15th)
1,704/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $7.053 billion
 -  Per capita $25,372
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $4.490 billion
 -  Per capita $16,151
HDI (2013) Increase 0.825
very high · 38th
Currency Barbadian dollar ($) ( BBD)
Time zone Eastern Caribbean ( UTC-4)
 -  Summer ( DST) not observed ( UTC-4)
Drives on the left
Calling code +1 -246
ISO 3166 code BB
Internet TLD .bb

Barbados ( / b ɑr ˈ b d ɒ s / or / b ɑr ˈ b d s /) is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and up to 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 431 square kilometres (166 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 kilometres (104 mi) east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and 400 kilometres (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Barbados was initially visited by the Spanish around the late 1400s to early 1500s and first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Spanish explorers may have plundered the island of whatever native peoples' resided therein to become slaves. The Portuguese visited in 1536, but they too left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England and it became an English and later British colony.

Barbados has an estimated population of 284,000 people, with around 80,000 living in or around Bridgetown, the largest city and the country's capital. In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Barbados is one of the Caribbean's leading tourist destinations and is one of the most developed islands in the region, despite it actually being classed as an Atlantic Island, with an HDI number of 0.825. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (16th globally) on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, behind Canada.


According to accounts by descendants of the indigenous Arawakan-speaking tribes in other regional areas, the original name for Barbados was Ichirouganaim, with possible translations including "Red land with white teeth", "Redstone island with teeth outside (reefs)", or simply "Teeth".

The reason for the later name Barbados is controversial. According to some sources the Portuguese, en route to Brazil, were the first Europeans to come upon the island, while others say it was the Spanish who gave the Spanish name "Los Barbudos". The word Barbados means "bearded ones", but it is a matter of conjecture whether "bearded" refers to the long, hanging roots of the bearded fig-tree ( Ficus citrifolia), indigenous to the island; to allegedly bearded Caribs once inhabiting the island; or, more fancifully, to the foam spraying over the outlying reefs giving the impression of a beard. In 1519, a map produced by the Genoese mapmaker Visconte Maggiolo showed and named Barbados in its correct position. Furthermore, an island in the Leewards that is very close in name is Barbuda and was once named Las Barbuadas by the Spanish.

Other names or nicknames associated with Barbados include "Bim" and "Bimshire". The origin is uncertain but several theories exist. The National Cultural Foundation of Barbados says that "Bim" was a word commonly used by slaves and that it derives from the phrase "bi mu" or either ("bem", "Ndi bem", "Nwanyi ibem" or "Nwoke ibem") from an Igbo phrase meaning "my people" or "my place". In colloquial or literary contexts, "Bim" can also take a more deific tone, referring to the "goddess" Barbados.

The word Bim and Bimshire are recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary and Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionaries. Another possible source for "Bim" is reported to be in the Agricultural Reporter of 25 April 1868, The Rev. N. Greenidge (father of one of the island's most famous scholars, Abel Hendy Jones Greenidge) suggested the listing of Bimshire as a county of England. Expressly named were "Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Bimshire". Lastly in the Daily Argosy (of Demerara, i.e. Guyana) of 1652 it referred to Bim as a possible corruption of the word "Byam", who was a Royalist leader against the Parliamentarians. That source suggested the followers of Byam became known as Bims and became a word for all Barbadians.


The Barbadoes mulatto girl, c. 1764

Amerindian settlement of Barbados dates to about the 4th to 7th centuries AD, by a group known as the Saladoid-Barrancoid. In the 13th century, the Kalinago arrived from South America.

The Spanish and Portuguese briefly claimed Barbados from the late 16th to the 17th centuries, and may have seized the Arawaks on Barbados and used them as slave labour. Other Arawaks are believed to have fled to neighbouring islands. Apart from possibly displacing the Caribs, the Spanish and Portuguese left little impact and left the island uninhabited. Some Arawaks migrated from Guyana in the 1800s and continue to live in Barbados.

From the arrival of the first English settlers in 1627–1628 until independence in 1966, Barbados was under uninterrupted English and later British governance and was the only Caribbean island that did not change hands during the colonial period. In the very early years, the majority of the population was white and male, with African slaves providing little of the workforce. Cultivation of tobacco, cotton, ginger and indigo was handled primarily by European indentured labour until the start of the sugar cane industry in the 1640s. As Barbados' economy grew, Barbados developed a large measure of local autonomy through its founding as a proprietary colony. Its House of Assembly began meeting in 1639. Among the island's earliest leading figures was the Anglo-Dutch Sir William Courten.

The 1780 hurricane killed over 4,000 people on Barbados. In 1854, a cholera epidemic killed over 20,000 inhabitants. At emancipation in the late 1830s, the size of the slave population was approximately 83,000. Between 1946 and 1980, Barbados' rate of population growth was diminished by one-third because of emigration to Britain.

Government and politics

Parliament Building

Barbados has been an independent country since 30 November 1966. It functions as a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modelled on the British Westminster system, with Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados, as head of state, represented locally by the Governor-General, Elliott Belgrave, and the Prime Minister as head of the government. The number of representatives within the House of Assembly has gradually increased from 24 at independence to its present total of 30 seats.

During the 1990s, at the suggestion of Trinidad and Tobago's Patrick Manning, Barbados attempted a political union with Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. The project stalled after the then Prime Minister of Barbados, Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, became ill and his Democratic Labour Party lost the next general election. However, Barbados continues to share close ties with Trinidad and Tobago and with Guyana, claiming the highest number of Guyanese immigrants after the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Barbados functions as a two-party system, the two dominant parties being the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Until 2003, each party had served two terms in office alternately. The general election of 2003 victory for the Barbados Labour Party gave it a third term in office, as a result of which it achieved a total of fourteen continuous years in government, from 1994 until the 2008 elections. Under that administration, the former Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Owen S. Arthur, acted as the Regional Leader of the Caribbean Single Market (CSM).

The Honourable David Thompson, who was elected Prime Minister of Barbados in 2008, died of pancreatic cancer on 23 October 2010 and was succeeded by his Deputy Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, was sworn in as head of government the same day.

Barbados has had several third parties since independence: The People's Pressure Movement, formed in the early 1970s, which contested the 1976 elections; The National Democratic Party, which contested the 1994 elections; and the People's Democratic Congress, which contested the 2008 elections. Apart from these, several independents have stood for election, but no independent has yet won a seat in Parliament.


The Constitution of Barbados is the supreme law of the nation. The Attorney General heads the independent judiciary. Historically, Barbadian law was based entirely on English common law with a few local adaptations. At the time of independence, the Parliament of the United Kingdom lost its ability to legislate for Barbados, but the existing English and British common law and statutes in force at that time, together with other measures already adopted by the Barbadian Parliament, became the basis of the new country's legal system.

More recently, Barbadian legislation may be shaped or influenced by such organisations as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or other international bodies to which Barbados has obligatory commitments by treaty. Additionally, through international co-operation, other institutions may supply the Barbados Parliament with key sample legislation to be adapted to meet local circumstances before enacting it as local law.

New Acts are passed by the Barbadian Parliament, and require royal assent by the Governor-General to become law.

In Barbados, camouflage clothing is reserved for military use, being forbidden for civilians, including children, to wear.

Barbados has been identified as one of the nations in which the International Press Institute would like to see the removal of criminal libel from the list of offences.


The local court system of Barbados is made-up of:

  • Magistrates' Courts: Covering Criminal, Civil, Domestic, Domestic Violence, and Juvenile matters. But can also take up matters dealing with Coroner's Inquests, Liquor Licences, and civil marriages. Further, the Magistrates' Courts deal with Contract and Tort law where claims do not exceed $10,000.00.
  • The Supreme Court: is made up of High Court and Court of Appeals.
    • High Court: Consisting of Civil, Criminal, and Family law divisions.
    • Court of Appeal: Handles appeals from the High Court and Magistrates' Court. It hears appeals in both the civil, and criminal law jurisdictions. It may consist of a single Justice of Appeal sitting in Chambers; or may sit as a Full Court of three Justices of Appeals.
  • The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), (based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), is the court of last resort (final jurisdiction) over Barbadian law. It replaced the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). The CCJ may resolve other disputed matters dealing with the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Foreign relations

Barbados is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Organization of American States (OAS), Commonwealth of Nations, and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which currently pertains only to Barbados, Belize and Guyana. In 2001 the Caribbean Community heads of government voted on a measure declaring that the region should work towards replacing the UK's Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Barbados is an original Member (1995) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and participates actively in its work. It grants at least MFN treatment to all its trading partners. As of December 2007, Barbados is linked by an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Commission. The pact involves the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) subgroup of the Group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific states (ACP). CARIFORUM presently the only part of the wider ACP-bloc that has concluded the full regional trade-pact with the European Union.

Trade policy has also sought to protect a small number of domestic activities, mostly food production, from foreign competition, while recognising that most domestic needs are best met by imports.


The Barbados Defence Force has roughly 600 members; within it, 12-to-18-year-old youngsters make up the Barbados Cadet Corps. The defence preparations of the island nation are closely tied to defence treaties with the United Kingdom, the United States, and the People's Republic of China.

Geography and climate

Map of Barbados
Beach near Bridgetown

Barbados is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles. It is flat in comparison to its island neighbours to the west, the Windward Islands. The island rises gently to the central highland region, with the highpoint of the nation being Mount Hillaby, in the geological Scotland District, 340 metres (1,120 ft) above sea level. The island is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the other West Indies Islands.

In the parish of Saint Michael lies Barbados' capital and main city, Bridgetown. Other major towns scattered across the island include Holetown, in the parish of Saint James; Oistins, in the parish of Christ Church; and Speightstown, in the parish of Saint Peter.


Barbados lies on the boundary of the South American and the Caribbean Plates. The shift of the South American plate beneath the Caribbean plate scrapes sediment from the South American plate and deposits it above the subduction zone forming an accretionary prism. The rate of this depositing of material allows Barbados to rise at a rate of about 25 millimetres (0.98 in) per 1,000 years. This subduction means geologically the island is composed of coral roughly (90 m or 300 ft thick), where reefs formed above the sediment. The land slopes in a series of "terraces" in the west and goes into an incline in the east. A large proportion of the island is circled by coral reefs.

The erosion of limestone rock in the North East of the island, in the Scotland District, has resulted in the formation of various caves and gullys, some of which have become popular tourist attractions such as Harrison's Cave and Welchman Hall Gully. On the Atlantic East coast of the island coastal landforms, including stacks, have been created due to the limestone composition of the area.


Bathsheba on the east coast of the island

The country generally experiences two seasons, one of which includes noticeably higher rainfall. Known as the " wet season", this period runs from June to November. By contrast, the " dry season" runs from December to May. The annual precipitation ranges between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 90 inches (2,300 mm). From December to May the average temperatures range from 21 to 31 °C (70 to 88 °F), while between June and November, they range from 23 to 31 °C (73 to 88 °F).

On the Köppen climate classification scale, much of Barbados is regarded as a Tropical monsoon climate (Am). However, gentle breezes of 12–16 kilometres per hour (8–10 mph) abound throughout the year and give Barbados a warm climate which is moderately tropical.

Infrequent natural hazards include earthquakes, landslips, and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the worst effects of the region's tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season. The far eastern location in the Atlantic Ocean puts the country just outside the principal hurricane strike zone. On average, a major hurricane strikes about once every 26 years. The last significant hit from a hurricane to cause severe damage to Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955, and more recently in 2010 the island was struck by Hurricane Tomas, but this only caused minor damage across the country.

Environmental issues

Barbados, seen from the International Space Station

The island is susceptible to environmental pressures. As one of the world's most densely populated isles, the government worked during the 1990s to aggressively integrate the growing south coast of the island into the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant to reduce contamination of offshore coral reefs. As of the 2000s, a second treatment plant has been proposed along the islands' west coast. With such a dense populace, Barbados has placed large efforts on protecting its underground aquifers. As a coral-limestone island, Barbados is highly permeable to seepage of surface water into the earth. As such, a major emphasis by the government has been placed on protecting the catchment areas (in specific surface areas known as buffer zones) that lead directly into the huge network of underground aquifers and streams. On occasion illegal squatters have breached these areas, and the government has removed squatters to preserve the cleanliness of the underground springs for islands drinking water. The government has placed a huge emphasis on keeping Barbados clean with the aim of protecting the environment and preserving offshore coral reefs which surround the island. Many initiatives to mitigate human pressures on the coastal regions of Barbados and seas is the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU). Barbados has nearly 90 km of coral reefs just offshore and two protected marine parks have been established off the west coast. Overfishing is another threat which faces Barbados.

Barbados is host to four species of nesting turtles ( green turtles, loggerheads, and leatherbacks) and has the second largest hawksbill turtle breeding population in the Caribbean. The driving of vehicles on beaches can crush nests buried in the sand and such activity should be avoided in nesting areas.

Though on the opposite side of the Atlantic, and some 3000 miles west of Africa, Barbados is one of many places in the American continent which experiences heightened levels of mineral dust from the Sahara Desert. Some particularly intense dust episodes have been blamed partly for the impacts on the health of coral reefs surrounding Barbados or asthmatic episodes, but evidence has not wholly supported the former such claim.

Administrative divisions

Barbados is divided into 11 parishes:

  1. Christ Church
  2. Saint Andrew
  3. Saint George
  4. Saint James
  5. Saint John
  6. Saint Joseph
  7. Saint Lucy
  8. Saint Michael
  9. Saint Peter
  10. Saint Philip
  11. Saint Thomas
Barbados location map.svg
Saint Lucy

St. George and St. Thomas are located in the middle of the country are the only two parishes without coastlines on the Caribbean Sea.


Graphical depiction of the national product exports in 28 colour-coded categories.

Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita, has a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is classified as being in its 66 top high income economies of the world. A 2012 self-study in conjunction with the Caribbean Development Bank revealed 20% of Barbadians live in poverty, and nearly 10% cannot meet their basic daily food needs.

Historically, the economy of Barbados had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s it has diversified into the manufacturing and tourism sectors. Offshore finance and information services have become important foreign exchange earners, and there is a healthy light manufacturing sector. Since the 1990s the Barbados Government has been seen as business-friendly and economically sound. The island has seen a construction boom, with the development and redevelopment of hotels, office complexes, and homes.

Recent government administrations have continued efforts to reduce unemployment, encourage foreign direct investment, and privatise remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment has been reduced to 10.7 in 2003.

The economy contracted in 2001 and 2002 due to slowdowns in tourism, consumer spending and the impact of the 11 September 2001 attacks, but rebounded in 2003 and has shown growth since 2004. Traditional trading partners include Canada, the Caribbean Community (especially Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom and the United States.

Business links and investment flows have become substantial: as of 2003 the island saw from Canada CA$ 25 billion in investment holdings, placing it as one of Canada's top five destinations for Canadian foreign direct investment (FDI). Businessman Eugene Melnyk of Toronto, Canada, is said to be Barbados' richest permanent resident.

It has been reported that the year 2006 would have been one of the busiest years for building construction ever in Barbados, as the building-boom on the island entered the final stages for several multi-million dollar commercial projects.

The European Union is presently assisting Barbados with a €10 million programme of modernisation of the country's International Business and Financial Services Sector.

Barbados maintains the third largest stock exchange in the Caribbean region. At present, officials at the stock exchange are investigating the possibility of augmenting the local exchange with an International Securities Market (ISM) venture.


A bus stop in Barbados
High Street

Barbados has a population of about 281,968 and a population growth rate of 0.33% (Mid-2005 estimates). It currently ranks as: the fourth most densely populated country in the Americas ( 18th globally), and the 10th most populated island country in the region, ( 101st globally). Close to 90% of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as "Bajan") are of Afro-Caribbean descent ("Afro-Bajans") and mixed-descent. The remainder of the population includes groups of Europeans ("Anglo-Bajans" / "Euro-Bajans") mainly from the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with Asians, mostly Chinese and Indians (both Hindu and Muslim). Other groups in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. Barbadians who return after years of residence in the US and children born in America to Bajan parents are called "Bajan Yankees", a term considered derogatory by some. Generally, Bajans recognise and accept all "children of the island" as Bajans, and refer to each other as such.

The biggest communities outside the Afro-Caribbean community are:

  1. The Indo-Guyanese, an important part of the economy due to the increase of immigrants from partner country Guyana. There are reports of a growing Indo-Bajan diaspora originating from Guyana and India. They introduced roti and other Indian dishes to Barbados' culture. Mostly from southern India and Hindu states, they are growing in size but smaller than the equivalent communities in Trinidad & Guyana.
  2. Euro-Bajans (4% of the population) have settled in Barbados since the 17th century, originating from England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1643, there were 37,200 whites in Barbados (86% of the population). More commonly they are known as " White Bajans". Euro-Bajans introduced folk music, such as Irish music and Highland music, and certain place names, such as "Scotland", a mountainous region. Among White Barbadians there exists an underclass known as Redlegs; the descendants of Scottish slaves, and prisoners imported to the island. Many additionally moved on to become the earliest settlers of modern-day North and South Carolina in the United States.
  3. Chinese-Barbadians are a small portion of Barbados' Asian demographics, smaller than the equivalent communities of Jamaica and Trinidad. Most if not all first arrived in the 1940s during the Second World War, originating mainly from the then British territory of Hong Kong. Many Chinese-Bajans have the surnames Chin, Chynn or Lee, although other surnames prevail in certain areas of the island. Chinese food and culture is becoming part of everyday Bajan culture.
  4. Lebanese and Syrians form the Arab community on the island, and the Muslim minority among them make up a small percentage of the Muslim population. The majority of the Lebanese and Syrians arrived in Barbados through trade opportunities. However, the numbers are dwindling due to emigration to other countries.
  5. Jewish people arrived in Barbados just after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is the home of Nidhe Israel Synagogue, the oldest Jewish synagogue in the Americas, dating from 1654, though the current structure was erected in 1833 replacing one ruined by the hurricane of 1831. Tombstones in the neighbouring cemetery date from the 1630s. Now under the care of the Barbados National Trust, the site was deserted in 1929 but was subsequently saved and restored by the Jewish community beginning in 1986.
  6. The Muslim-Indian Barbadian community is largely of Gujarati ancestry. Many small businesses in Barbados are run and operated by Muslim-Indian Bajans.

The average life expectancy is 72 years for males and 77 years for females. Barbados and Japan have the highest per capita occurrences of centenarians in the world.

Largest cities


English is the root official language of Barbados, and is used for communications, administration, and public services all over the island. In its capacity as the official language of the country, the standard of English tends to conform to the vocabulary, pronunciations, spellings, and conventions akin to, but not exactly the same as, those of British English. A regional variant of English, referred to locally as Bajan, is spoken by most Barbadians in everyday life, especially in informal settings. In its full-fledged form, Bajan sounds markedly different from the Standard English heard on the island.

The degree of intelligibility between Bajan and general English changes depending on the speakers' origins and the level of creolised vocabulary. In rare instances, a Bajan speaker may be completely unintelligible to an outside English speaker if sufficient idioms are present in a sentence. Bajan is somewhat differentiated from, but highly influenced by other Caribbean English dialects; it is a fusion of British English and elements borrowed from the languages of West Africa.


Most Barbadians of African and European descent are Christians (95%), chiefly Anglicans (40%). Other Christian denominations with significant followings in Barbados are the Catholic Church, Pentecostals (Evangelicals) Jehovah's Witnesses, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Spiritual Baptists. The Church of England was the official state religion until its legal disenfranchisement by the Parliament of Barbados following independence. Religious minorities include Hindus, Muslims, members of the Baha'i Faith, Jews and Wiccans.


International pop star Rihanna, a native of Barbados

The influence of the English on Barbados is more noticeable than on other islands in the West Indies. A good example of this is the island's national sport: cricket. Barbados has brought forth several great cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell.

Citizens are officially called Barbadians. The term "Bajan" (pronounced "beijan) may have come from a localised pronunciation of the word Barbadian, which at times can sound more like "Bar-bajan".

The largest carnival-like cultural event that takes place on the island is the Crop Over festival. As in many other Caribbean and Latin American countries, Crop Over is an important event for many people on the island, as well as the thousands of tourists that flock to there to participate in the annual events. The festival includes musical competitions and other traditional activities, and features the majority of the island's homegrown calypso and soca music for the year. The male and female Barbadian who harvested the most sugarcane are crowned as the King and Queen of the crop. Crop Over gets under way from the beginning of July, and ends with the costumed parade on Kadooment Day, held on the first Monday of August.

In the music business, Rihanna (born Robyn Fenty in Saint Michael in 1988) is currently one of Barbados' best-known Grammy winning artists. As of 2009 she was appointed as an official Honorary Ambassador of youth and culture for Barbados by the late Prime Minister, David Thompson. Singer-songwriter Shontelle, the band Cover Drive and musician Rupee also originate from Barbados.

Grandmaster Flash (born Joseph Saddler in Bridgetown in 1958) is a hugely influential musician of Barbadian origin, pioneering hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing in 1970s New York. He began experimenting with DJ equipment as a teenager, eventually developing and mastering a number of key innovations that are still considered standard DJing techniques today.

In the film and television business the actress Stacey Dash is of Barbadian origin as well.


Similar to other nations within the Commonwealth of Nations all Barbadian citizens are covered by national healthcare. Barbados has over twenty polyclinics throughout the country in addition to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (General Hospital) located in Bridgetown. In 2011 the Government of Barbados signed a Memorandum of Understanding to lease its 22-acre Saint Joseph Hospital to Denver, Colorado based America World Clinics. Under the deal the group will use Barbados as one of its main destinations for medical tourism at that facility. The government also announced it would begin constructing a new $800 million dollar state-of-the-art hospital to replace the QEH.

Education and literacy

Barbados' literacy rate is ranked close to 100%, with both UNESCO and the Minister of Education stating that Barbados was in the top 5 countries worldwide for literacy rate. thus placing the country alongside many of the industrialised nations of the world. The mainstream public education system of Barbados is fashioned after the British model. The government of Barbados spends 6.7% of the GDP on education (2008). All young people in the country must attend school until age 16. Barbados has over 70 primary schools, and over 20 secondary schools throughout the island. There are also a number of private schools catering to various teaching models including Montessori and International Baccalaureate. Degree level education in the country is provided by the Barbados Community College, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, and the Cave Hill campus and Open Campus of the University of the West Indies


The Kensington Oval, in Bridgetown hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup final.Cricket is one of the most followed games in the nation and the Kensignton Oval is often referred to as the "Mecca in Cricket" due to its significance and contributions to the sport.

As in other Caribbean countries of British colonial heritage, cricket is very popular on the island. Barbadians play on the West Indies cricket team. In addition to several warm-up matches and six "Super Eight" matches, and the country hosted the final of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. They have had many great cricketers such as Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Gordon Greenidge, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall.

Horse racing takes place at the Historic Garrison Savannah close to Bridgetown. Spectators can pay for admission to the stands, or else can watch races from the public "rail", which encompasses the track.

Obadele Thompson is a world-class sprinter from Barbados; he won a bronze medal at Olympic Games over 100m in 2000. Ryan Brathwaite, a hurdler, reached the 2008 Olympic semi-finals in Beijing. Brathwaite also earned Barbados its first ever medal at the world championships in Berlin, Germany on 20 August 2009, when he won the men's 110 meter hurdles title. The 21-year-old timed a national record of 13.14 seconds to win the Gold Medal.

Polo is very popular amongst the rich elite on the island and the "High-Goal" Apes Hill team is based in the St James's Club. It is also played at the private Holders Festival ground.

In golf, the Barbados Open is an annual stop on the European Seniors Tour. In December 2006 the WGC-World Cup took place at the country's Sandy Lane resort on the Country Club course, an 18-hole course designed by Tom Fazio. The Barbados Golf Club is the other main course on the island. Sanctioned by the PGA European Tour to host a PGA Seniors Tournament in 2003 and it has also hosted the Barbados Open on several occasions.

Basketball is a popular sport, played at school or college, and is increasing in popularity, as is volleyball, though volleyball is mainly played indoors.

Motorsports also play a role, with Rally Barbados occurring each summer and currently being listed on the FIA NACAM calendar.

The presence of the trade winds along with favourable swells make the southern tip of the island an ideal location for wave sailing (an extreme form of the sport of windsurfing).

Netball is also popular with women in Barbados.

Barbadian team The Flyin' Fish, are the 2009 Segway Polo World Champions.


Typical ZR-van with markings indicating that it serves the number 11 route.

In addition to being one of the world's most densely populated countries, Barbados also has one of the most dense road networks in the world. Although Barbados is only about 34 kilometres (21 mi) at its widest point, a car journey from Six Cross Roads in St. Philip (south-east) to North Point in St. Lucy (north-central) can take one and a half hours or longer, thanks to the country's narrow, winding and rough roads.

Barbados has half as many registered cars as citizens in the country. The first letter of a vehicle's licence plate designates its usage or owner's registered parish of residence. "Z" and "ZR" are for taxis; "H" for rental cars; "B" for buses and minibuses; "CD" for diplomatic cars; and "3D" or "7D" for defence force vehicles, while "ML" or "MP" with green plates usually designate military, police or government vehicles. As regards residence, "X" is for Christ Church; "A" for St. Andrew; "G" for St. George; "S" for St. James; "J" for St. John; "O" for St. Joseph; "L" for St. Lucy; "M" for St. Michael; "E" for St. Peter; "P" for St. Philip; and "T" for St. Thomas.

Public transport on the island is relatively convenient, with " route taxis", called "ZRs" (pronounced " Zed-Rs"), travelling to most points on the island. These small buses can at times be crowded, as passengers are generally never turned down, regardless of the number. However, they will usually take the more scenic routes to destinations. They generally depart from the capital Bridgetown or from Speightstown in the northern part of the island.

Old Barbados Transport Board bus in Bridgetown.

Including the ZRs, there are three bus systems running seven days a week (though less frequently on Sundays). There are ZRs, the yellow minibuses and the blue Transport Board buses. A ride on any of them costs BBD$2.00. The smaller buses from the two privately owned systems ("ZRs" and "minibuses") can give change; the larger blue buses from the government-operated Barbados Transport Board system cannot, but do give receipts. Children in school uniform ride for free on the government buses and for $1.50 on the minibuses and ZRs. Most routes require a connection in Bridgetown. Some drivers within the competitive privately owned systems are reluctant to advise persons to use competing services, even if those would be more suitable.

A Mini Moke at Speightstown beach

Some hotels also provide visitors with shuttles to points of interest on the island from outside the hotel lobby. There are several locally owned and operated vehicle rental agencies in Barbados but there are no multi-national companies.

The island's lone airport is the Grantley Adams International Airport. It receives daily flights by several major airlines from points around the globe, as well as several smaller regional commercial airlines and charters. The airport serves as the main air-transportation hub for the eastern Caribbean. In the first decade of the 21st century it underwent a US$100 million upgrade and expansion.

There is also a helicopter shuttle service, which offers air taxi services to a number of sites around the island, mainly on the West Coast tourist belt. Air and maritime traffic is regulated by the Barbados Port Authority.

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