The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. African 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.



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


total: 430 sq km
land: 430 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


97 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; rainy season (June to October)


relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Hillaby 336 m

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 32.6%
arable land 25.6%; permanent crops 2.3%; permanent pasture 4.7%
forest: 19.4%
other: 48% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

50 sq km (2012)

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, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

easternmost Caribbean island

People and Society


291,495 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Barbadian(s) or Bajan (colloquial)
adjective: Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)

Ethnic groups

black 92.4%, white 2.7%, mixed 3.1%, East Indian 1.3%, other 0.2%, unspecified 0.2% (2010 est.)


English (official), Bajan (English-based creole language, widely spoken in informal settings)


Protestant 66.4% (includes Anglican 23.9%, other Pentecostal 19.5%, Adventist 5.9%, Methodist 4.2%, Wesleyan 3.4%, Nazarene 3.2%, Church of God 2.4%, Baptist 1.8%, Moravian 1.2%, other Protestant 0.9%), Roman Catholic 3.8%, other Christian 5.4% (includes Jehovah's Witness 2.0%, other 3.4%), Rastafarian 1%, other 1.5%, none 20.6%, unspecified 1.2% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 18.13% (male 26,421/female 26,434)
15-24 years: 13.03% (male 18,888/female 19,083)
25-54 years: 44.35% (male 64,430/female 64,842)
55-64 years: 13.18% (male 18,036/female 20,396)
65 years and over: 11.31% (male 13,216/female 19,749) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50.4%
youth dependency ratio: 29.1%
elderly dependency ratio: 21.3%
potential support ratio: 4.7% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 38.3 years
male: 37.2 years
female: 39.4 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.3% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

11.8 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

8.5 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

most densely populated country in the eastern Caribbean; approximately one-third live in urban areas


urban population: 31.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.13% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BRIDGETOWN (capital) 90,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

27 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.3 years
male: 73 years
female: 77.7 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.68 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

7.5% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

1.81 physicians/1,000 population (2005)

Hospital bed density

6.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.7% of population
rural: 99.7% of population
total: 99.7% of population
urban: 0.3% of population
rural: 0.3% of population
total: 0.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 96.2% of population
rural: 96.2% of population
total: 96.2% of population
urban: 3.8% of population
rural: 3.8% of population
total: 3.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.57% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

2,600 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

33.2% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

3.5% (2012)

Education expenditures

6.7% of GDP (2014)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 17 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 29.6%
male: 27.7%
female: 31.9% (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Barbados
etymology: the name derives from the Portuguese "as barbadas," which means "the bearded ones" and can refer either to the long, hanging roots of the island's bearded-fig trees or to the alleged beards of the native Carib inhabitants

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


name: Bridgetown
geographic coordinates: 13 06 N, 59 37 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

11 parishes and 1 city*; Bridgetown*, Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas


30 November 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Emancipation Day, 1 August (1834); Independence Day, 30 November (1966)


adopted 22 November 1966, effective 30 November 1966; amended several times, last in 2007 (2016)

Legal system

English common law; no judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Elliot BELGRAVE (since 1 June 2012)
head of government: Prime Minister Freundel STUART (since 23 October 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (21 seats; members appointed by the governor general - 12 on the advice of the Prime Minister, 2 on the advice of the opposition leader, and 7 at the discretion of the governor general) and the House of Assembly (30 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly - last held on 21 February 2013 (next to be called in 2018)
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - DLP 51.3%, BLP 48.3%, other 0.4%; seats by party - DLP 16, BLP 14

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the High Court with 8 justices) and the Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and president of the court and 4 justices; note - Barbados, a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice, replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) as the final court of appeal
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister and opposition leader of Parliament; other justices appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, a 5-member independent body consisting of the Supreme Court chief justice, the commission head, and governor-general appointees recommended by the prime minister; justices serve until mandatory retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts

Political parties and leaders

Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]
Democratic Labor Party or DLP [Freundel STUART]
People's Empowerment Party or PEP [David COMISSIONG]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Barbados Secondary Teachers' Union or BSTU [Mary REDMAN]
Barbados Union of Teachers or BUT [Karen BEST]
Barbados Workers Union or BWU [Linda BROOKS]
Clement Payne Labor Union [David COMISSIONG]
Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados or CTUSAB, (includes the BWU, NUPW, BUT, and BSTU) [Leroy TROTMAN]
National Union of Public Workers or NUPW [Walter MALONEY]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Ad interim Jane E. BRATHWAITE
chancery: 2144 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-9200
FAX: [1] (202) 332-7467
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
consulate(s): Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Linda S. TAGLIALATELA (since 1 February 2016) note - also accredited to Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
embassy: U.S. Embassy Road, Bridgetown 14006, Barbados
mailing address: P. O. Box 302, Bridgetown BB 11000; (Department Name) Unit 3120, DPO AA 34055
telephone: [1] (246) 227-4000
FAX: [1] (246) 431-0179

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 band colors represent the blue of the sea and sky and the gold of the beaches; the trident head represents independence and a break with the past (the colonial coat of arms contained a complete trident)

National symbol(s)

Neptune's trident, pelican, Red Bird of Paradise flower (also known as Pride of Barbados); national colors: blue, yellow, black

National anthem

name: "The National Anthem of Barbados"
lyrics/music: Irving BURGIE/C. Van Roland EDWARDS
note: adopted 1966; the anthem is also known as "In Plenty and In Time of Need"


GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.473 billion (2015 est.)

Economy - overview

Barbados is the wealthiest and most developed country in the Eastern Caribbean and enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in r

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.804 billion (2016 est.)
$4.724 billion (2015 est.)
$4.682 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - real growth rate

1.7% (2016 est.)
0.9% (2015 est.)
0.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$17,200 (2016 est.)
$16,900 (2015 est.)
$16,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

9.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
6.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
3.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 82.5%
government consumption: 14.3%
investment in fixed capital: 14.4%
investment in inventories: 3.2%
exports of goods and services: 35.1%
imports of goods and services: -49.5% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 11.7%
services: 85.5% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, vegetables, cotton


tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Industrial production growth rate

-1% (2016 est.)

Labor force

142,500 (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10%
industry: 15%
services: 75% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate

11% (2016 est.)
11.3% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $1.2 billion (2013 est.)
expenditures: $1.5 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

108.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
106.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.3% (2016 est.)
-1.1% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

7% (31 December 2010)
7% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

8.1% (31 December 2016 est.)
8.1% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$1.888 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.831 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$4.442 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.309 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$5.669 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.377 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$4.495 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$4.571 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$4.366 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

-$238 million (2016 est.)
-$315 million (2015 est.)


$466.7 million (2016 est.)
$482.9 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

manufactures, sugar, molasses, rum, other foodstuffs and beverages, chemicals, electrical components

Exports - partners

Trinidad and Tobago 22.5%, US 11.8%, St. Lucia 9.2%, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 5.7%, Antigua and Barbuda 4.7%, St. Kitts and Nevis 4.4%, Guyana 4.2% (2015)


$1.575 billion (2016 est.)
$1.618 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components

Imports - partners

Trinidad and Tobago 39%, US 31.1% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$608.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$657.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$4.49 billion (2010 est.)
$668 million (2003 est.)

Exchange rates

Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar -
2 (2016 est.)
2 (2015 est.)
2 (2014 est.)
2 (2013 est.)
2 (2012 est.)
note: the Barbadian dollar is pegged to the US dollar


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 29,149
electrification - total population: 91%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 80% (2012)

Electricity - production

900 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

900 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

200,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

1,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

764.5 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

2.53 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

12,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

11,490 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

20 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

20 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

113.3 million cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

1.3 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 156,857
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 54 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 335,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 115 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: island-wide automatic telephone system
domestic: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 55 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density about 115 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-246; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad; satellite earth stations - 1 (Intelsat - Atlantic (2015)

Broadcast media

government-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) operates the lone terrestrial TV station; CBC also operates a multi-channel cable TV subscription service; roughly a dozen radio stations, consisting of a CBC-operated network operating alongside p (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 221,000
percent of population: 76.1% (July 2015 est.)


Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

8P (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)


gas 33 km; oil 64 km; refined products 6 km (2013)


total: 1,600 km
paved: 1,600 km (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 109
by type: bulk carrier 23, cargo 52, chemical tanker 13, container 6, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 8, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 83 (Canada 11, Greece 14, Iran 5, Lebanon 2, Norway 38, Sweden 4, Syria 1, Turkey 1, UAE 1, UK 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bridgetown


Military branches

Royal Barbados Defense Force: Troops Command, Barbados Coast Guard (2011)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service, or earlier with parental consent; no conscription (2013)

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 island defense against external aggression; the Command consists of a single, part-time battalion with a small regular cadre deployed throughout the island; the cadre increasingly supports the police in patrolling the coastline for smuggling and other illicit activities

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago abide by the April 2006 Permanent Court of Arbitration decision delimiting a maritime boundary and limiting catches of flying fish in Trinidad and Tobago's exclusive economic zone; joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which permits Venezuela to extend its Economic Exclusion Zone/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea

Illicit drugs

one of many Caribbean transshipment points for narcotics bound for Europe and the US; offshore financial center