Indépendence: 30.11.1966

In 1536, the Portuguese explorer Pedro A. Campos chose to call this island 'Los Barbados' (the bearded) with reference to the long aerial roots of certain fig trees which resembled beards.


The flag adopted on 30th November 1966 comprises three vertical yellow and blue bands symbolising the sea, the sand and the sky. The trident in the centre recalls greek mythology, the trident of Poseidon, marking the direct route between two worlds.

General information

Area: An island of 431 sq. kms

Location: 13°N 59°W
Situated to the northeast of Trinidad, Barbados is the easternmost of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles

Highest landmark: Mount Hillaby (336 m)

Capital: Bridgetown, the only seaport (a major part of the island is surrounded by coral reef).

Population (2011): 273 900 hab. (UNDP)

Official language: english

Everyday languages: english, bajan (barbadian creole).

Currency: barbadian dollar (BBD) with a fixed exchange rate of  1 US$ = 2 BB$ since 1967, that is 1 € = 2.79 BB$ (October 2010).

Independence Day : 30th November

Political regime

Constitution: Parliamentary monarchy

Queen: Elisabeth II
Governor: Clifford Husbands since 01.06.1996
Prime Minister: Freundel Stuart (Democratic Labour) since 23.10.2010

Bipartisan government:

Governing Party: Democratic Labour Party (DLP)
Opposition: Barbados Labour Party (BLP)
Next parliamentary elections: May 2013 at the lastest

International and regional organisations:

Member of the UN (09.12.1966)
 Member of the WTO (01.01.1995)
 Member of the Commonwealth (1966)
 Member of the GATT (1967)
Founder member of CARICOM (01.08.1973) and of ACS (24.07.1994)

Brief History


With its Amerindian population, the island was the first European berthing point in the Caribbean. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1536, colony of the United Kingdom from 1627 to its independence in 1966, Barbados became a crossroads between western Europe, the Caribbean islands and some regions of the South American continent.


Nicknamed 'Little England' by its neighbours, Barbados remains heavily marked by British influence in spite of the growth of regionalist feelings and cultural nationalism since independence.


Demographic data

Life expectancy (2011): 76.8 years (UNDP)

Literacy rate (2008): 99.7%

Poverty (2008): 13% below the poverty threshold

Density (2011): 635.5 inhab./km2

Level of urbanisation (2006): 53.69%

Religion: Protestant 67% (of which 40% Anglican, 8% Penticostal, 7% Methodist), Catholic 4%, others 12%, atheist 17%.

There are also some small juewish and muslin communities.

Black: 80%; white: 4%; mixed: 2.3%; others: 13.7% (Asian, Indo-Pakistani, Arab)

HDI : (UNDP, 2011)

Year Barbados Latin America & Caribbean World
2011 0.793 0.731 0.682

Economic data

GDP (2009) : 3 895 million US$ (IMF)

GDP per capita (2009) : 14 116 US$ (IMF)

Rate of growth (2009) : - 5.5%

Active population (2008) : agriculture 3.3%, industry 17.3%, services 79.4%.

Unemployment rate (2010) : 10.4%

Rate of inflation (2009) : 2.4%

Public deficit (2010) : 97% of GDP

Main export clients (2009): Trinidad & Tobago 16.1%, Jamaica 14.4%, Brazil 10.2%, United States 8.1%, Saint Lucia 7.5%.

Main import suppliers : Trinidad & Tobago 31.6%, United States 30.7%, Colombia 7.9%, China 5.2 %, United Kingdom 4.8%.

Some strong points:

Économy dominated by light industry and toursim sectors. Offshore finance and services are also importants.

Direct flows of investment estimated by UNCTAD at 290 million US$ in 2009, principally in the tourism and construction sectors.

Cultural particularities

National sport : cricket

National dish: 'coucou' (base of okra and maïze meal)


Ryan Brathwaite: world champion 2009, 110 m hurdles
Rihanna: singer R'n'B/Pop/ Reggae.
Rosemary Philips: jazz singer.

Recent events


Cricket world cup 2007: 1 of 8 caribbean island locations.

Passage of hurricane TOMAS, October 2011.

Author: Maryse Verrecchia
Translation:  : Louis Shurmer-Smith