Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II
Governor-General: Sir Elliot Belgrave (2012)
Prime Minister: Freundel Stuart
Land area: 166 sq mi (430 sq km); total
area 166 sq mi (431 sq km)
Population (2012 est.): 287,733 (growth
rate: 0.35%); birth rate: 12.23/1000; infant mortality rate:
12.23/1000; life expectancy: 74.52; density per sq km: 654
Capital and largest city (2009 est.):
Monetary unit: Barbados dollar
Current government officials
black 90%, white 4%, Asian and mixed 6%
Protestant 67% (Anglican 40%, Pentecostal 8%,
Methodist 7%, other 12%), Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%
Independence Day, November 30
Literacy rate: 99.7% (2011 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011
est.): $6.528 billion; per capita: $23,600. Real growth rate:
–1.8%. Inflation: 5=7.4% (2011 est.). Unemployment:
5.7% (2011 est.). Arable land: 37.21%.
Agriculture: sugarcane, vegetables, cotton. Labor force:
175,000 (2011 est.); services 75%, industry 15%, agriculture 10%
(1996 est.). Industries: tourism, sugar, light manufacturing,
component assembly for export. Natural resources: petroleum,
fish, natural gas. Exports: $467.4 million (2011 est): sugar
and molasses, rum, other foods and beverages, chemicals, electrical
components. Imports: $1.601 billion (2011 est.): consumer
goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals,
fuel, electrical components. Major trading partners: U.S.,
UK, Trindad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the
Grenadines, Japan (2004).
Member of Commonwealth of Nations
Communications: Telephones: main lines
in use: 137,500 (2011); mobile cellular: 350,100 (2011). Radio
broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 6, shortwave 0 (2004).
Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus two cable channels)
(2004). Internet hosts: 1,522 (2012). Internet users:
Transportation: Railways: 0 km.
Highways: total: 1,600 km; paved: 1,600 km (2012). Ports
and harbors: Bridgetown. Airports: 1 (2011).
International disputes: in 2005,
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago agreed to compulsory international
arbitration that will result in a binding award challenging whether
the northern limit of Trinidad and Tobago's and Venezuela's maritime
boundary extends into Barbadian waters and the southern limit of
Barbadian traditional fishing; 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 Caribbean Sea
Major sources and definitions
An island in the Atlantic about 300 mi (483 km)
north of Venezuela, Barbados is only 21 mi long (34 km) and 14 mi across
(23 km) at its widest point. It is circled by fine beaches and narrow
coastal plains. The highest point is Mount Hillaby (1,105 ft; 337 m) in
the north-central area.
Barbados is thought to have been originally
inhabited by Arawak Indians. By the time Europeans explored the island,
however, it was uninhabited. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to
set foot on the island, but it was the British who first established a
colony there in 1627. Colonists first cultivated tobacco and cotton, but
by the 1640s they had switched to sugar, which was enormously profitable.
Slaves were brought in from Africa to work sugar plantations, and
eventually the population was about 90% black. A slave revolt took place
in 1816; slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834.
Barbados was the administrative headquarters of
the Windward Islands until it became a separate colony in 1885. Barbados
was a member of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 to 1962.
Britain granted the colony independence on Nov. 30, 1966, and it became a
parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth.
Since independence, Barbados has been
politically stable. In May 2003, Prime Minister Arthur won a third term.
In parliamentary elections in January 2008, the Democratic Labour Party
won 20 out of 30 seats. Former junior finance minister David Thompson took
over as prime minister.
Barbados Remains Politically Stable Despite Challenges from Third Parties
On October 23, 2010, Prime Minister David Thompson died of pancreatic cancer. Thompson was succeeded by his Deputy Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Since the country's independence, multiple third parties have formed. The National Democratic Party, the People's Democratic Congress, and the People's Pressure Movement all formed since the 1970s as third party options. They have contested various elections over the years. In addition, several independent candidates have contested past elections, but no independent has won a seat in Parliament.
On June 1, 2012, Sir Elliott Belgrave assumed office as the Governor General of Barbados. Following the retirement of Clifford Husbands, Belgrave was Acting Governor-General from November 1, 2011 until June 1, 2012. Previously, Belgrave served as Judge for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Barbados.
See also Encyclopedia: Barbados.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes:
Statistical Services www.bgis.gov.bb/stats/ .
Information Please® Database, © 2012 Pearson
Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
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