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Barbados - Land of the Flying Fish

Barbados (i /bɑrˈbeɪdɒs/ or / bɑrˈbeɪdoʊs/) is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and as much as 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, amounting to 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.

Once a Spanish and Portuguese territorial possession known as Los Barbados or Os Barbados, in 1625 it became an English, and later a British, colony. The island has an estimated population of 284,589 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 the most developed island in the region, with an HDI number of 0.788.

Geography and Climate 

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 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.

Barbados lie on the boundary of the South American and the Caribbean Plates. The gradual shift of the South American plate beneath the Caribbean plate scrapes sediment from the South American plate and piles it above the subduction zone. As such, Barbados is continually growing at a small rate as more sediment is slowly added. This subduction means geologically the island is composed of coral roughly (90 m/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. Much of the country is circled by coral reefs.

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.

The climate is moderate tropical, with a wet season (June–November) and a more dry season (December–May). The annual precipitation ranges between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 90 inches (2,300 mm).

Natural hazards include earthquakes, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the worst effects of the region's tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season as its far eastern location in the Atlantic Ocean puts it just outside the principal hurricane strike zone. On average a hurricane may strike about once every 26 years. The last significant hit from a hurricane to cause severe damage to Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955.


Barbados has numerous internationally known hotels. Time-shares are available, and many of the smaller local hotels and private villas which dot the island have space available if booked in advance. The southern and western coasts of Barbados are popular, with the calm light blue Caribbean Sea and their white and pinkish sandy beaches. Along the island's east coast, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, there are tumbling waves which are perfect for light surfing. Some areas remain risky due to under-tow currents.

Shopping districts are popular in Barbados, with ample duty-free shopping. There is also a festive night-life in mainly tourist areas such as the Saint Lawrence Gap. Other attractions include wildlife reserves, jewelry stores, scuba diving, helicopter rides, golf, festivals (the largest being the annual Crop Over festival July/Aug), sightseeing, cave exploration, exotic drinks and fine clothes shopping.


Barbados has a population of about 281,968 and a population growth rate of 0.33% (Mid-2005 estimates). Close to 90% of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as Bajan) are of African descent ("Afro-Bajans"). The remainder of the population includes groups of Europeans ("Anglo-Bajans" / "Euro-Bajans") mainly from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Chinese, Bajan Muslims from India. Other groups in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. Barbadians who return after years of residence in the U.S. and children born in America to Bajan parents are called "Bajan Yankees", this term is considered derogatory by some.

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 many Indian dishes to Barbados' culture. Mostly from southern India and Hindu states, these 'Desi' peoples are growing in size but smaller than the equivalent communities in Trinidad & Guyana. Euro-Bajans (4% of the population)have settled in Barbados since the 16th 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, and "Trafalgar Square" in Bridgetown, now renamed "Heroes Square". Among White Barbadians there exists an underclass known as Redlegs; the descendants of indentured servants, 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.

Chinese are a minute portion of Barbados' Asian demographics, far 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. 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 due to trade opportunities. Although in the numbers are dwindling due to emigration and immigration to other countries.

Jewish people arrived in Barbados just after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is the home of 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 neighboring 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 in 1983. Indians from Gujarat in India make up majority of the Muslim population. Muslim-Indian Barbadians are often perceived to be the most successful group in business, along with the Chinese Bajans. The average life expectancy is 77 years for both males and females. Barbados and Japan have the distinction of having highest number of centenarians (on a per capita basis) in the world.


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 "rawness" of one's accent. In rare instances, a Bajan speaker may be completely unintelligible to an outside English speaker if sufficient slang terminology is 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. Hindi and Bhojpuri are also spoken on the island by a small Indo-Bajan minority. Spanish is considered the most popular second language on the island, followed by French.


Most Barbadians of African and European descent are Christians (95%), chiefly Anglicans (40%). Other Christian denominations with significant followings in Barbados are the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventist 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, the Baha'i Faith, and Jews.


Education in Barbados is fashioned after the British model. The government of Barbados spends roughly 20% of its annual national budget on education.[citation needed] All young people in the country must attend school until age 16. 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. 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 a local Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies.

Miss Barbados 2012


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