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By Exit Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Barbados
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Introduction Geography People Government Economy Communications Transportation Military Transnational Issues
Map of Barbados
IntroductionTop
Background: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.
GeographyTop
Location: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
Area: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
Coastline:97 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate:tropical; rainy season (June to October)
Terrain: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% (2001)

Irrigated land:10 sq km (1998 est.)
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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:easternmost Caribbean island
PeopleTop
Population:279,254 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 20.6% (male 28,813/female 28,634)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 96,590/female 100,622)
65 years and over: 8.8% (male 9,432/female 15,163) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 34.15 years
male: 32.99 years
female: 35.28 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:0.33% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:12.83 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:9.17 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:-0.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 12.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.14 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 71.41 years
male: 69.46 years
female: 73.39 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:1.65 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:1.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:2,500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:noun: Barbadian(s) or Bajan (colloquial)
adjective: Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)

Ethnic groups:black 90%, white 4%, Asian and mixed 6%
Religions:Protestant 67% (Anglican 40%, Pentecostal 8%, Methodist 7%, other 12%), Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%
Languages:English
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 97.4%
male: 98%
female: 96.8% (1995 est.)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Barbados

Government type:parliamentary democracy; independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth
Capital:Bridgetown
Administrative divisions:11 parishes; Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas; note - the city of Bridgetown may be given parish status
Independence:30 November 1966 (from UK)
National holiday:Independence Day, 30 November (1966)
Constitution:30 November 1966
Legal system:English common law; no judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage: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 Owen Seymour ARTHUR (since 7 September 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Mia MOTTLEY (since 26 May 2003)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; 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-member body appointed by the governor general) 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 21 May 2003 (next to be held by May 2008)
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - BLP 23, DLP 7

Judicial branch:Supreme Court of Judicature (judges are appointed by the Service Commissions for the Judicial and Legal Services)
Political parties and leaders:Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Owen ARTHUR]; Democratic Labor Party or DLP [Clyde Mascoll]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Barbados Workers Union [Leroy TROTMAN]; Clement Payne Labor Union [David COMMISSIONG]; People's Progressive Movement [Eric SEALY]; Worker's Party of Barbados [Dr. George BELLE]
International organization participation:ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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)
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:Historically, the Barbadian economy had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but production in recent years has diversified into light industry and tourism. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises. The economy contracted in 2002-03 mainly due to a decline in tourism. Growth probably was positive in 2004, as economic conditions in the US and Europe moderately improved.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $4.569 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:2.3% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $16,400 (2004 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:NA
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA

Inflation rate (consumer prices):-0.5% (2003 est.)
Budget:revenues: $847 million (including grants)
expenditures: $886 million, including capital expenditures of NA (2000 est.)

Agriculture - products:sugarcane, vegetables, cotton
Industries:tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export
Industrial production growth rate:-3.2% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:800 million kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:744 million kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:1,271 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:10,900 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Oil - proved reserves:1.254 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:29.17 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:29.17 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:70.79 million cu m (1 January 2002)
Exports:$206 million (2002)
Exports - commodities:sugar and molasses, rum, other foods and beverages, chemicals, electrical components
Exports - partners:Trinidad and Tobago 14.2%, US 13.9%, UK 13%, Jamaica 7.7%, Saint Lucia 5.8%, Spain 5.8%, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4.6% (2004)
Imports:$1.039 billion (2002)
Imports - commodities:consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components
Imports - partners:US 31.6%, Trinidad and Tobago 21.6%, UK 7.9%, Japan 5.3% (2004)
Debt - external:$668 million (2003)
Currency (code):Barbadian dollar (BBD)
Currency code:BBD
Exchange rates:Barbadian dollars per US dollar - 2 (2004), 2 (2003), 2 (2002), 2 (2001), 2 (2000)
Fiscal year:1 April - 31 March
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:134,000 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:140,000 (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: NA
domestic: island-wide automatic telephone system
international: country code - 1-246; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia

Radio broadcast stations:AM 2, FM 6, shortwave 0 (2004)
Radios:237,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:1 (plus two cable channels) (2004)
Televisions:76,000 (1997)
Internet country code:.bb
Internet hosts:204 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):19 (2000)
Internet users:100,000 (2003)
TransportationTop
Highways:total: 1,600 km
paved: 1,578 km
unpaved: 22 km (2002)

Ports and harbors:Bridgetown
Merchant marine:total: 58 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 427,465 GRT/668,195 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 14, cargo 31, chemical tanker 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 53 (Bahamas 1, Bangladesh 1, Canada 12, Greece 11, Lebanon 2, Netherlands 1, Norway 17, UAE 1, United Kingdom 7)
registered in other countries: 1 (2005)

Airports:1 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:Royal Barbados Defense Force: Troops Command and Coast Guard (2005)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age for voluntary military service; volunteers at earlier age with parental consent; no conscription (2001)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 71,330 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 51,298 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:NA
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:NA
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 (2005)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:in 2005, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago agreed to compulsory international arbitration that will result in a binding award challenging whether the northern limit of Trinidad and Tobago's and Venezuela's maritime boundary extends into Barbadian waters and the southern limit of Barbadian traditional fishing; joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under UNCLOS, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea
Illicit drugs:one of many Caribbean transshipment points for narcotics bound for Europe and the US; offshore financial center



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