Barbados is a small island nation in the North Atlantic Ocean, just beyond the borders of the Caribbean Sea and the Windward Islands. Barbados covers a total area of about one hundred and sixty six square miles, and is much longer than it is wide. Barbados is generally free from hurricane and tropical storm weather systems, but still enjoys the tropical weather associated with the Caribbean. Barbados has a current population of approximately two hundred eighty five thousand residents, mostly concentrated in the capital city of Bridgetown. Bridgetown, which is also the nation’s largest population center, currently has about eighty thousand residents in its urban core and suburbs. Barbados is a highly developed nation for the Caribbean region, with a relatively high per capita GDP and an impressive Human Development Index score. The original residents of Barbados were Amerindians who spoke the Arawakan tongue, and referred to the island as the “Red Land with White Teeth,” a reference to the islets, cays, and reefs ringing the outer border of the main island. The first Europeans to explore the island of Barbados were Portuguese sailors, who gave the island its current name. The name “Barbados” literally translates to “bearded ones,” although what that name refers to is not exactly clear.
The island of Barbados was inhabited as early as the 4th century AD, although these first residents, the Saladoid-Barrancoid, were soon supplanted by the Carib Indians. The Caribs were, in turn, replaced temporarily by the Portuguese in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who departed circa 1610 for the mainland of South America. In the latter half of the seventeenth century, Barbados became a profitable British settlement, due to the slave trade and the introduction of sugar cane. Barbados gained its independence in 1966, although it is still a part of the British Commonwealth. Although Barbados is a relatively small island, it is subdivided into two landlocked and nine coastal regions, called parishes. Barbados is a relatively flat island in topographical terms, and its highest point is Mount Hillaby at just over one thousand, one hundred feet above sea level. Barbados is a coral island, and many of its offshore reefs are great destinations for snorkelers and divers looking to enjoy the region’s diverse marine life. Barbados is classified as a high income nation, thanks to the strength of the investment and tourist industries on the island.
Tourists flock to Barbados in high numbers throughout the year, and several full service luxury resorts have sprung up to meet the demand. In addition to the crystal blue waters and shimmering white sands of the island nation, Barbados offers some of the best duty free shopping in the region. Other notable activities in Barbados include clubbing, scuba diving, and even spelunking. Some important points of interest in Barbados are the Bussa Emancipation Statue, Queen’s College, the Lancaster Great House Gallery and Gardens, the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, and Animal Flower Cave. There are also a number of historic religious sites in Barbados, such as the Bridgetown Synagogue, Saint James Parish Church, and Clifton Hill Moravian Church. Barbados has a unique culinary and musical style, although its sports scene is still very much influenced by British culture, and therefore places a heavy emphasis on the sport of cricket.