An island country in the south-east Caribbean.
Barbados is the most easterly of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Of coral formation, it is about 34 km (21 miles) long by 22 km (14 miles) wide and rises in gentle stages to some 336 m (1100 feet).
The principal economic activity is tourism, but agriculture, with sugar cane the main crop, remains important; a limited manufacturing industry includes food-processing, clothing, and assembly work. Offshore petroleum and natural gas reserves make an important contribution to the economy, and there is a developing services sector.
Barbados may have been visited by the conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas in 1501; however the island that he called Isla Verde (because of its luxuriant vegetation) could have been Grenada rather than Barbados. The earliest inhabitants were thought to have been Arawak Indians, and later also some Carib Indians, but they had disappeared by the time British settlers began to colonize the island in 1627. Barbados became a British Crown colony in 1652. The British brought a large number of Africans to Barbados to work as slaves on sugar plantations. When slavery was abolished in 1834 six-sevenths of the population was Black. Cane sugar remained the principal product of the island throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Barbados was also a strategic port for the British navy. In 1958 Barbados joined the West Indies Federation and in 1966 became fully independent within the Commonwealth. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was in power from 1961 until 1976 and from 1986 until 1994, when the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won general elections. The BLP was re-elected in 1999 and 2003.
430 sq km (166 sq miles)
1 Barbados dollar = 100 cents
Anglican 39.7%; non-religious 17.5%; Pentecostal 7.6%; Methodist 7.1%; Roman Catholic 4.4%
Black 87.1%; Mixed 6.0%; White 5.5%
UN; OAS; CARICOM; Commonwealth; Non-Aligned Movement; WTO
Subjects: World History.