OFFICIAL NAME: Barbados
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 430 Sq Km (166 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 272,000
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Barbados is the most easterly of
the Caribbean Islands, lying east of the windward group
of islands. It is of a triangular shape and ringed by a
coral reef. The island is of coral and limestone formation,
and is comparatively flat with a series of tablelands that
rise from the west coast to a ridge in the center with Mt.
Hillaby the country's highest point at 340 m (984 feet).
Although there are no rivers, valleys temporarily fill with
water during heavy rainfall and water courses as well as
underground channels do exist. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Bridgetown 6,000, Speightstown 3,500 (1990). Land Use; forested
12%, pastures 5%, agricultural-cultivated 36%, other 47%
CLIMATE: Barbados has a tropical maritime climate with temperatures
tempered by the NE trade winds particularly during the dry season. The
dry season is relatively cool and occurs between December to May. The wet
season between June and December, is hotter with higher humidity and greater
rainfall. Average annual precipitation varies from around 1,000 mm (39
inches) in the coastal areas to 2,280 mm (90 inches) in the central ridge
area. Average temperature ranges for Bridgetown are from 21 to 28 degrees
Celsius (70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit) in February to 23 to 30 degrees Celsius
(73 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in June or September.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are Black African descendants
who account for 80% of the population. Other ethnic minorities include
Whites who only account for 4% of the population while Mulattoes, who are
of mixed African and White descent account for 16% and East Indians account
for only .4%.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 600 persons per sq km
(1,554 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 44.7% urban, 55.3% rural
(1990). Sex Distribution; 47.7% male, 52.3% female (1990). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 71.9 years male, 76.9 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 25%
under 15, 29% 15 to 29, 20% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 15% 60 and over (1989).
Birth Rate; 16.8 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 8.6 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 8.2 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 10.9 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 70% of the population
Anglican and Protestant. The remainder belong to a number of Moravian Methodist
Churches and the Roman Catholic Church.
LANGUAGES: The official language is English, although there are
various dialects and the vocabulary contains a number of barbarianisms.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
0.8%, primary 63.5%, secondary 32.3%, higher 3.3% (1980). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 180,000 or 98.0% (1985).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1951 universal adult suffrage
was introduced and in 1954 a full ministerial system of government was
established. In 1958 Barbados joined the West Indies Federation, however,
the federation collapsed in 1962 due to a failure to reach an agreement
with other neighboring islands and the East Caribbean Federation. In 1965
Barbados decided to seek independence on its own and became the fourth
British Caribbean dependency to gain independence in 1966. From 1961 to
1976 Barbados took a leading role in establishing the Caribbean Community
and Common Market (CARICOM). Barbados helped to form the Eastern Caribbean
Security Alliance in 1982 and in 1983 took part in a US-led invasion of
Grenada. In Jan. 1991 Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford of the Democratic
Labor Party (DLP) was re-elected after general elections for another 5
year term. In April 1991 the government introduced austerity measures which
included a 1.5% stabilization tax on gross income failed to control the
government's fiscal deficits and led to considerable unrest. Also during
the year, tourism, sugar production and construction activity declined.
Following the government's agreement with the International Monetary Fund
in mid-1991 for $60 million in funding to stabilize foreign reserves the
economy remained depressed. In April 1992 Harold Blackman resigned from
the Finance Ministry and launched a scathing attack on the DLP leadership.
In Sept. 1992 the Bardabos Mutual Life Assurance company took over local
assets of the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
During 1993 economic woes continued for the fourth continuous year while
in May 1993 the government announced that "cruise tourism" which
continued to do well would be further enhanced by a $3 million extension
of the Bridgetown cruise terminal. In August 1993, the government, labor
and business reached an agreement on a two-year income and pricing policy
which froze pay increases and restrained price increases until April 1995.
Also during 1993, sugar production dropped to a 62-year low.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dollar (BDS) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $1,620,000,0000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $346,500,000 (1993). Imports; BDS $1,234,814,000 (1994).
Exports; BDS $363,036,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $502,000,000 (1993).
Balance of Trade; BDS -$689,300,000 (1993). Economically Active Population;
129,000 or 48.8% of total population (1994). Unemployed; 21.9% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
the UK, Canada and other CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market)
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Fish, Goats, Limestone, Natural
Gas, Onions, Pigs, Poultry, Shellfish, Sheep, Sugar Cane, Vegetables.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Clothing, Electrical Parts,
Molasses, Pharmaceuticals, Processed Foods, Rum, Sugar Refining, Textiles,
MAIN EXPORTS: Cement, Clothing, Electrical Parts, Medical Supplies,
Molasses, Rum, Sugar.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 1,573 km (977 mi) (1989).
Vehicles; cars 38,711 (1989), trucks and buses 8,627 (1989). Merchant Marine;
vessels 35 (1990), deadweight tonnage 7,781 (1990). Air Transport; N/A.
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 2 with a total circulation
of 41,405 (1994). Radio; receivers 224,000 (1994). Television; receivers
69,350 (1994). Telephones; units 110,960 (1992).
MILITARY: 154 (1989) total active duty personnel with 100% coast
guard while military expenditure accounts for 0.6% (1992) of the Gross
National Product (GNP).