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Barbados travel guide - Travel S helper


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Barbados is a sovereign island nation located in the Americas’ Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometers (21 miles) long and up to 23 kilometers (14 miles) wide, encompassing an area of 432 kilometers square (167 sq mi). It is located in the western North Atlantic, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; it is approximately 168 kilometers (104 miles) east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is located outside the main storm belt of the Atlantic Ocean. Bridgetown serves as the capital. Barbados is located about 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers) southeast of Miami.

Barbados has been inhabited by the Kalinago people since the 13th century, and by other Amerindians before to that. In the late 15th century, Spanish navigators arrived and claimed the island for the Spanish Crown. It originally appears on a 1511 Spanish map. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536 but left it unclaimed, leaving only wild pigs to provide a steady supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The Olive Blossom, an English ship, landed in Barbados in 1625 and was seized by her crew in the name of King James I. The first permanent inhabitants arrived from England in 1627, and the colony became an English colony, and subsequently a British colony.

Barbados gained independence and Commonwealth realm status in 1966, with the British Monarch (now Queen Elizabeth II) serving as hereditary head of state. It has a population of 280,121 people, the majority of whom are of African ancestry. Barbados, although being an Atlantic island, is regarded to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is a popular tourist destination. 40% of tourists come from the United Kingdom, with the United States and Canada following closely after. Barbados was rated joint second in the Americas (after Canada and equal with the United States) and joint 17th worldwide in 2014 by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (after Belgium and Japan, equal with the U.S., Hong Kong and Ireland).


Barbados is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the other islands of the West Indies. Barbados is the easternmost island of the Lesser Antilles. It is flat compared to its western island neighbours, the Windward Islands. The island rises gently to the central highlands. The nation’s highest point is Mount Hillaby in the Scotland Geological District at 340 m above sea level.

The capital and main town of Barbados, Bridgetown, is located in the parish of Saint Michael. Other major towns scattered around the island are Holetown in the parish of Saint James, Oistins in the parish of Christ Church and Speightstown in the parish of Saint Peter.


Barbados lies at the boundary between the South American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Subduction of the South American Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate scrapes sediments from the South American Plate and deposits them above the subduction zone, forming an accretionary prism. The rate of this material deposition causes Barbados to rise at a rate of about 25 mm (1 in) per 1000 years. As a result of this subduction, geologically the island consists of coral about 90 m thick where reefs have formed over the sediment. The land slopes down in a series of “terraces” to the west and merges into a slope to the east. Much of the island is surrounded by coral reefs.

Erosion of the limestone in the north-east of the island in the Scotland District has led to the formation of various caves and gullies, some of which have become popular tourist attractions, such as Harrison’s Cave and Welchman Hall Gully. On the eastern Atlantic coast of the island, coastal landscapes, including chimneys, have been formed due to the limestone nature of the area.


The 2010 census, conducted by the Barbados Statistical Service, showed a resident population of 277,821, of which 133,018 were male and 144,803 female.

Ethnic groups

Almost 90 % of Barbadians (colloquially referred to as “Bajans”) are of Afro-Caribbean origin (“Afro-Bajans”) or mixed. The rest of the population includes groups of Europeans (“Anglo-Bajans” / “Euro-Bajans”) mainly from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Asians, mainly Chinese and Indians (Hindus and Muslims). Other groups represented in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Barbadians returning to the United States after years of residence and US-born children of Bajan parents are referred to as “Bajan Yankees”, a term considered derogatory by some.

The largest communities outside the Afro-Caribbean community are:

  • Indo-Guyanese, an important part of the economy due to the increase in immigrants from the partner country Guyana. There are reports of a growing Indo-Bajan diaspora from Guyana and India since about 1990. Mainly from South India and the Hindu States, they are growing in numbers but are smaller than the corresponding communities in Trinidad and Guyana.
  • Euro-Bajans (4% of the population) have settled in Barbados since the 17th century, coming from England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1643, there were 37,200 whites in Barbados (86 % of the population). They are popularly known as “White Bajans”. The Euro-Bajans introduced folk music, such as Irish and Highland music, and certain place names, such as “Scotland”, a mountainous region. Among white Barbadians, there is a sub-category known as Redlegs; these are mainly descendants of Irish indentured labourers and prisoners who were imported to the island. Many of them later became the first settlers of what is now North Carolina and South Carolina in the United States.
  • Barbadians of Chinese descent represent only a small part of the Asian population in Barbados. Most, if not all, arrived in the 1940s, during the Second World War. Many Chinese-Bajans have the surnames Chin, Chynn or Lee, although other surnames are prevalent in some parts of the island. Chinese food and culture are increasingly becoming part of the everyday culture of Bajans.
  • Lebanese and Syrians make up the Arab Barbadian community on the island, which is predominantly Arab Christian. The Arab Muslim minority among Arab Barbadians represents only a small percentage of the total Muslim minority population of Barbados. The majority of Lebanese and Syrians came to Barbados through trade opportunities. Their numbers are declining due to migration to other countries.
  • Jews arrived in Barbados shortly after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is home to the Nidhe Israel Synagogue, the oldest Jewish synagogue in America, dating back to 1654, although the current building was constructed in 1833 to replace the synagogue destroyed by the hurricane of 1831. The gravestones in the nearby cemetery date from the 1630s. The site, now maintained by the Barbados National Trust, was abandoned in 1929 but was saved and restored by the Jewish community from 1986.
  • Muslim Barbadians of Indian origin are largely of Gujarati descent. Many small businesses in Barbados are run and operated by Muslim Bajans of Indian origin.


Most Barbadians of African and European descent are Christians (95 per cent), the largest denomination being Anglicanism (40 per cent). Other Christian denominations with significant followings in Barbados are the Catholic Church (administered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgetown), Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventist Church and Spiritual Baptists. The Church of England was the official religion of the state until it was legally dissolved by the Parliament of Barbados after independence.

Other religions represented in Barbados are Hinduism, Islam, Baha’i, Judaism and Wicca.


Barbados is the 53rd richest country in the world by GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. It has a well-developed mixed economy and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is one of the 66 highest income economies in the world. A 2012 self-assessment conducted in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank found that 20 per cent of Barbadians live in poverty and almost 10 per cent cannot meet their basic daily food needs.

Historically, Barbados’ economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but since the late 1970s and early 1980s it has diversified into manufacturing and tourism. Offshore financial and information services have become important foreign exchange earners, and the light manufacturing sector is healthy. Since the 1990s, the Barbados government has been considered business-friendly and economically sound. The island has experienced a construction boom, with the development and redevelopment of hotels, office complexes and flats. This boom slowed down during the economic crisis of 2008.

Recent governments have continued their efforts to reduce unemployment, encourage foreign direct investment and privatise the remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment was reduced to 10.7 % in 2003. Since then, however, it has risen to 11.9 % in the second quarter of 2015.

The economy contracted in 2001 and 2002 due to a slowdown in tourism, consumer spending and the impact of the 9/11 attacks, but recovered in 2003 and has been growing again since 2004. Traditional trading partners include Canada, the Caribbean Community (especially Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom and the United States.

Trade relations and investment flows have become substantial: in 2003, the island received C$25 billion in investment from Canada, making it one of the top five destinations for Canadian foreign direct investment (FDI). Businessman Eugene Melnyk of Toronto, Canada, is said to be one of Barbados’ richest permanent residents.

It was reported that 2006 was the busiest year for building construction in Barbados as the island’s building boom entered the final stages of several multi-million dollar commercial projects.

The European Union is supporting Barbados with a €10 million programme to modernise the country’s financial services and international business sectors.

Barbados has the third largest stock exchange in the Caribbean region. In 2009, stock exchange officials explored the possibility of adding an international securities market (ISM) to the local exchange.

How To Travel To Barbados

By airSir Grantley Adams International Airport (IATA: BGI) is a major international airport for the size of Barbados, offering dozens of flights in high season from the UK and Canada, as well as the US. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have numerous flights to Barbados, while American Airlines is...

How To Travel Around Barbados

Driving is on the left-hand side. The bus system is extensive, cheap and fast if you are travelling anywhere on the main route, but a car (or mini-mobile) is the only way to see many of the more remote sights. Many drivers will book you a bus when they...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Barbados

Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter Barbados: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia,...

Destinations in Barbados

Regions in BarbadosThere are eleven parishes on the island of Barbados, which can be usefully divided into four regions:BridgetownThe capital of Barbados and its surroundings in the parish of Saint Michael.East Central BarbadosThe parishes of Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas. The east coast...

Weather & Climate in Barbados

The country generally experiences two seasons, one of which contains significantly more rainfall. This period is known as the "rainy season" and lasts from June to November. In contrast, the "dry season" lasts from December to May. Annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 to 2,300 mm (40 to 90 inches)....

Accommodation & Hotels in Barbados

Barbados offers everything from cheap bed and breakfast guesthouses starting at less than $40 per day for a single person in summer to luxury accommodation in some of the world's best hotels for $1,600 in high season.Flats and flat hotels in Barbados offer the comfort of a hotel room...

Things To See in Barbados

The west coast has many luxury resorts, and it and the inland highlands have many historic sites with scenic views.Botanical Garden. Inside is a beautiful botanical garden with more information about wildlife than most similar places in the world.Cricket, Kensington Oval, Bridgetown. Check if there is a match to...

Things To Do in Barbados

World-class water sports, including surfing at the Soup Bowl on the east coast and various breaks along the west coast when the swell is strong. The south coast offers great waves and a spot on the World Windsurfing Championship at Silver Sands.Drive inland and visit various plantation houses where...

Food & Drinks in Barbados

Food in BarbadosThe flying fish, the symbol of the islands, can be seen on coins, banknotes and menus. The flying fish is usually served lightly breaded and fried, with a yellow sauce. Be aware that this yellow sauce is made from very hot scotch bonnet peppers and onions in...

Money & Shopping in Barbados

The national currency is the Bajan dollar, but US dollars are accepted in almost all shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Bajan dollars for one US dollar. Remember that hotel money changers may insist on charging an additional percentage for the exchange (usually 5%).There are...

Festivals & Holidays in Barbados

DateEnglish nameComments1 JanuaryNew Year's Day21 JanuaryErrol Barrow DayA day of tribute to Errol Barrow, the Father of the Nation.2 AprilGood FridayFriday, the date varies5 AprilEaster MondayMonday, the date varies28 AprilNational Heroes' Day1 MayLabour Day1st Monday in May, date variesWhit MondayMonday, the date varies1 AugustEmancipation DayDate on which slavery was...

Language & Phrasebook in Barbados

The official language of Barbados is English. Bajan (sometimes called Barbadian Creole or Barbadian dialect) is a creole language based on Irish and English spoken by the locals. Bajan uses a mixture of West African idioms and expressions, such as Igbo, as well as British English and Irish to...

Traditions & Customs in Barbados

Despite or perhaps because of the tropical climate, Bajans tend to dress conservatively when they are not at the beach. A bikini is not welcome in town and certainly not in church.Bajans are particularly sensitive to good manners and saying "hello" to people, even strangers, earns their respect.If you...

Culture Of Barbados

Barbados has produced several great cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell.The citizens are officially called Barbadians. The term "Bajan" (pronounced BAY-jun) may be derived from a local pronunciation of the word "Barbadian", which sometimes sounds like "Bar-bajan".The biggest carnival cultural event on the island is the...

History Of Barbados

Barbados has experienced several waves of human settlement. The first wave was the group of Saladoid Barrancoids, farmers, fishermen and ceramists who arrived by canoe from the Orinoco Valley in Venezuela around 350 AD. The Arawaks, who arrived from South America around 800, formed the second wave. Arawak settlements...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Barbados

Stay Safe in BarbadosAlthough it is generally a safe place to travel, crime has increased. Tourists should avoid certain high-risk activities, such as walking on secluded beaches, by day and by night, walking in unfamiliar residential areas or walking in remote areas away from main roads. Tourists, especially women,...



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