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  Introduction Back To Top

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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.09 cu km/yr (33%/44%/22%)
per capita: 333 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
0.1 cu km (2003)

Land boundaries:
0 km

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

tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
13 10 N, 59 32 W

Natural resources:
petroleum, fish, natural gas

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Hillaby 336 m

relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region

Geography - note:
easternmost Caribbean island

total: 431 sq km
land: 431 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela

97 km

Area - comparative:
2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:
50 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
pollution of coastal waters from waste disposal by ships; soil erosion; illegal solid waste disposal threatens contamination of aquifers

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
infrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides

Land use:
arable land: 37.21%
permanent crops: 2.33%
other: 60.46% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.65 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.5% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,500 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.21 years
male: 71.2 years
female: 75.24 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.7% (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:
-0.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
black 90%, white 4%, Asian and mixed 6%

Median age:
total: 35.4 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 36.4 years (2008 est.)

281,968 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
6.9% of GDP (2005)

Population growth rate:
0.36% (2008 est.)


Death rate:
8.58 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.05 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2001)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.3% (male 27,270/female 27,193)
15-64 years: 71.7% (male 99,357/female 102,683)
65 years and over: 9% (male 9,856/female 15,609) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
12.48 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Protestant 63.4% (Anglican 28.3%, Pentecostal 18.7%, Methodist 5.1%, other 11.3%), Roman Catholic 4.2%, other Christian 7%, other 4.8%, none or unspecified 20.6% (2008 est.)

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

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mary M. OURISMAN
embassy: U.S. Embassy, Wildey Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael BB 14006
mailing address: P. O. Box 302, Bridgetown BB 11000; CMR 1014, APO AA 34055
telephone: [1] (246) 227-4399
FAX: [1] (246) 431-0179

National holiday:
Independence Day, 30 November (1966)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:
parliamentary democracy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Barbados Secondary Teachers' Union or BSTU [Patrick FROST]; Barbados Union of Teachers or BUT [Herbert GITTENS]; Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados or CTUSAB, (includes the BWU, NUPW, BUT, and BSTU) [Leroy TROTMAN]; Barbados Workers Union or BWU [Leroy TROTMAN]; Clement Payne Labor Union [David COMISSIONG]; National Union of Public Workers [Joseph GODDARD]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael Ian KING
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

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
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 his discretion) 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 15 January 2008 (next to be called in 2013)
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - DLP 52.5%, BLP 47.3%; seats by party - DLP 20, BLP 10

Legal system:
English common law; no judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

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)

30 November 1966 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Barbados

Political parties and leaders:
Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]; Democratic Labor Party or DLP [David THOMPSON]; People's Empowerment Party or PEP [David COMISSIONG]

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

30 November 1966

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 David THOMPSON (since 16 January 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: 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

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Judicature (judges are appointed by the Service Commissions for the Judicial and Legal Services); Caribbean Court of Justice is the highest court of appeal

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Trinidad and Tobago 15.5%, Jamaica 13.5%, UK 9.4%, US 9.3%, Brazil 8.3%, Saint Lucia 7.2%, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4.5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
939.9 million kWh (2007 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
12% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$254 million (2007 est.)

Debt - external:
$668 million (2003)

Unemployment rate:
10.7% (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:
1,750 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$20,200 (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$3.533 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$5.695 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$3.777 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar - NA (2007), 2 (2006), 2 (2005), 2 (2004), 2 (2003)

GDP - real growth rate:
2.8% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$1.478 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
128,500 (2001 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 30.5%, Trinidad and Tobago 27.6%, UK 6.5% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.5% (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 16%
services: 78% (2000 est.)

Oil - imports:
10,710 bbl/day (2005)

$385 million (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
29.17 million cu m (2006 est.)

Currency (code):
Barbadian dollar (BBD)

Economy - overview:
Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism, with about three-quarters of GDP and 80% of exports being attributed to services. Growth has rebounded since 2003, bolstered by increases in construction projects and tourism revenues, reflecting its success in the higher-end segment, but the sector will likely face declining revenues with the global economic downturn. The country enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners and thrive from having the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and a relatively highly educated workforce. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises. The public debt-to-GDP ratio of about 80% will likely widen as the THOMPSON administration engages in a more expansionary fiscal policy.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components

tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
10.8% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$2.717 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
1.003 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$1.586 billion (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
2.2 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 10%
industry: 15%
services: 75% (1996 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
141.6 million cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$620 million (2007)

Oil - consumption:
8,674 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$5.599 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
manufactures, sugar and molasses, rum, other foods and beverages, chemicals, electrical components

Economic aid - recipient:
$2.07 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
29.17 million cu m (2006 est.)

revenues: $847 million (including grants)
expenditures: $886 million (2000 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March

Oil - production:
1,111 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
160,000 (2005)

Telephones - main lines in use:
134,900 (2005)

76,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 6, shortwave 0 (2004)

237,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
237,100 (2006)

Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus 2 cable channels) (2004)

Telephone system:
general assessment: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 50 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density of about 85 per 100 persons
domestic: island-wide automatic telephone system
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 Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)

Internet hosts:
104 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 85
by type: bulk carrier 15, cargo 50, chemical tanker 7, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 80 (Canada 9, Greece 12, India 1, Iran 2, Lebanon 1, Norway 38, Sweden 7, Syria 1, UK 9)
registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)

total: 1,600 km
paved: 1,600 km (2004)

1 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (younger requires parental consent); no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 75,265
females age 16-49: 75,389 (2008 est.)

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 (2007)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 58,556
females age 16-49: 58,143 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Royal Barbados Defense Force: Troops Command, Barbados Coast Guard (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 2,157
female: 2,155 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.5% of GDP (2006 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

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 (UNCLOS), which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/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

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