Barbados

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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.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

13.10° N, 59.32° W

Area 202/257

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

Coastline

97 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Terrain

relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region

Elevation

mean elevation:

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)

Total renewable water resources

0.08 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.1 cu km/yr (20%/26%/54%)

per capita: 371.3 cu m/yr (2009)

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

Nationality

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.)

Languages

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

Religions

Protestant 66.3% (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 .8%), 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.)

Population 181/238

290,604 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 18.29% (male 26,570/female 26,583)

15-24 years: 13.35% (male 19,323/female 19,461)

25-54 years: 44.62% (male 64,604/female 65,069)

55-64 years: 12.87% (male 17,483/female 19,907)

65 years and over: 10.88% (male 12,596/female 19,008) (2015 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 years

male: 36.9 years

female: 39.1 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 173/233

0.31% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 168/224

11.87 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 80/225

8.44 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 128/222

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

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 (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 106/184

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

Infant mortality rate 133/224

total: 10.42 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 11.52 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 9.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 104/224

total population: 75.18 years

male: 72.82 years

female: 77.56 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 174/224

1.68 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Health expenditures 104/191

6.8% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.81 physicians/1,000 population (2005)

Hospital bed density

6.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 99.7% of population

rural: 99.7% of population

total: 99.7% of population

unimproved:

urban: 0.3% of population

rural: 0.3% of population

total: 0.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 96.2% of population

rural: 96.2% of population

total: 96.2% of population

unimproved:

urban: 3.8% of population

rural: 3.8% of population

total: 3.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.88% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

1,500 (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 14/191

33.2% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

3.5% (2013)

Education expenditures 54/173

5.6% of GDP (2012)

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.)

Government

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 and a Commonwealth realm

Capital

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

Independence

30 November 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 November (1966)

Constitution

adopted 22 November 1966, effective 30 November 1966; amended several times, last in 2007 (2015)

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

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

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

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

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"

Economy

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 recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism with about four-fifths of GDP and of exports being attributed to services. 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. Barbados' tourism, financial services, and construction industries have been hard hit since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008. Barbados' public debt-to-GDP ratio rose from 56% in 2008 to 101% in 2015. Growth prospects are limited because of a weak tourism outlook and planned austerity measures.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 176/230

$4.658 billion (2015 est.)

$4.612 billion (2014 est.)

$4.602 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.451 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 177/225

1% (2015 est.)

0.2% (2014 est.)

0% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 97/230

$16,700 (2015 est.)

$16,500 (2014 est.)

$16,500 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 158/179

8.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

4.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

4% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 83%

government consumption: 14.5%

investment in fixed capital: 14.5%

investment in inventories: -0.6%

exports of goods and services: 36.7%

imports of goods and services: -48.1%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.1%

industry: 11.3%

services: 85.7% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, vegetables, cotton

Industries

tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Industrial production growth rate 185/202

-3.6% (2015 est.)

Labor force 179/233

142,000 (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10%

industry: 15%

services: 75% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate 120/207

10.8% (2015 est.)

11.5% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Budget

revenues: $1.3 billion (2013 est.)

expenditures: $1.55 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 88/219

29.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 178/220

-5.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 16/176

101% of GDP (2015 est.)

99.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 125/226

2.4% (2015 est.)

2.1% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 47/156

7% (31 December 2010)

7% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 108/184

8.1% (31 December 2015 est.)

8.38% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 128/192

$1.903 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.82 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 136/193

$4.481 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$4.342 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 120/191

$5.587 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$5.293 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 88/121

$4.495 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

$4.571 billion (31 December 2011)

$4.366 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 82/197

-$215 million (2015 est.)

-$370 million (2014 est.)

Exports 174/224

$471.6 million (2015 est.)

$474.4 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Exports - partners

Trinidad and Tobago 24.1%, US 9.5%, St. Lucia 9.4%, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 5.8%, Antigua and Barbuda 4.8%, St. Kitts and Nevis 4.5%, Guyana 4.3%, Venezuela 4.3% (2014)

Imports 169/223

$1.628 billion (2015 est.)

$1.652 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Imports - partners

Trinidad and Tobago 35.6%, US 29.3%, Canada 9.1% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 141/170

$662.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$632.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 134/206

$4.49 billion (2010 est.)

$668 million (2003 est.)

Exchange rates

Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar -

2 (2015 est.)

2 (2014 est.)

2 (2013 est.)

2 (2012 est.)

2 (2011 est.)

note: the Barbadian dollar is pegged to the US dollar

Energy

Electricity - production 150/220

981 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 155/219

938 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 103/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 119/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 156/214

239,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 3/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 47/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 159/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 155/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 91/214

1,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 84/214

764.5 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 158/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 96/215

2.53 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 155/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 155/212

9,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 153/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 138/213

9,276 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 87/216

20 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 111/215

20 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 60/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 159/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 106/212

141.6 million cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 162/212

1.312 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 138/219

total subscriptions: 150,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 52 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 176/217

total: 305,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 105 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: island-wide automatic telephone system

domestic: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 50 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density approaching 125 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 Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia (2009)

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 privately owned radio stations (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 2, FM 13, shortwave 0 (2009)

Television broadcast stations

1 (plus 2 cable channels) (2004)

Internet country code

.bb

Internet hosts 167/232

1,524 (2012)

Internet users 152/217

total: 227,400

percent of population: 78.5% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 236/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Pipelines

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

Roadways 177/223

total: 1,600 km

paved: 1,600 km (2011)

Merchant marine 49/156

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 and Security

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)

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