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Short Name: Barbados
Long Name: Barbados
Geography: Barbados lies in the Atlantic ocean, 300 miles north of Venezuela. It is east of Saint Vincent in the Windward islands of the Lesser Antilles, making it the easternmost island in the West Indies. The island is 21 miles long, 14 miles at its widest point, and has a total area of 166 sq. miles. It is circled by fine beaches and narrow coastal plains. The highest point is Mount Hillaby (1,105 ft) in the north central area. Barbados has no natural deepwater harbors and is largely surrounded by coral reefs. The climate is tropical, and the average temperature is about 79 F. The rainy season prevails June through December, and hurricanes occasionally strike the island. Barbados lacks mineral resources, and nearly all the natural vegetation has been cleared for cultivation.
Population: With a population of 264,000 (est. 1996), Barbados is the most densely populated of the West Indies islands. The capital, largest city, and only seaport is Bridgetown, with a population of 6,700 (est. 1990). About 90% of the total population is black, the remaining portion is made up of whites and persons of mixed racial descent. The adult literacy rate is 99%, and the average life expectancy is 70.5 years.
Education: English is the official language, although a wide cross-section of the population speak a readily identifiable dialect. Education is free for children ages 5 to 16. They are enrolled in primary and secondary schools. A campus of the University of the West Indies was established in Bridgetown in 1963.
Religion: As a result of its long association with England, more than 50% of the population is Anglican. The Moravian and Methodists churches were added to the list of denominations in the 18th century. More recent additions were the Roman Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, The Salvation Army and many other small religious groups. There are also small groups of Hindus and Moslems, as well as a small Jewish community. All these groups have complete religious freedom.
The Barbados legislature is bicameral, with a Senate of 21 appointed members and an Assembly of 28 elected members. The major political parties are the Barbados Labour Party, and the National Democratic Party. The British monarch, nominally the head of state, is represented by a governor-general who presides over a privy council appointed after consultation with the prime minister. A Westminster Parliamentary system composed of the prime minister and other ministers responsible to the parliament, directs and controls the government.
The major industrial products are light manufacturers, including clothing, furniture, electric and electronic equipment, sugar milling and tourism. The tourist industry is a major employer of the labor force. Sugar cane is grown on large estates, rather than on small farms, for the production and export of refined sugar, molasses and rum, but dependency on revenue from these products is reduced. Since the late 1960s, tourism has earned more foreign revenue than sugar products, and newly discovered reserves of petroleum and natural gas are being exploited. Budget revenues total about $420million, expenditures about $500 million. Major trading partners are USA, Caribbean nations, UK and Canada. An international airport is located at Seawell in the southeast. A central bank established in 1972 adopted a new unit of currency, the Barbados dollar ( $2.01 Barbados dollar = U.S $1.00. ) (est 1990).
The Portuguese explorers probably landed on Barbados in the 16th century, and the first settlement was established in 1627 by the British colonist. It was a crown possession in 1663. The prosperous colony however, was severely affected by the 18th century war between France and England and by the American Revolution. Slavery was abolished in 1834, and agricultural production was substantially increased.
When the British government proposed a confederation of Barbados and the Windward Islands in 1876, several riots resulting in bloodshed occurred. In the decades that followed, the African and mixed majority rose to political power, and eventually out numbered the white landholders in the legislature.
Serious unrest erupted in 1937, caused by poor economic conditions, and a British Royal Commission was sent to the island. Social and political reforms were gradually introduced, and in 1950 universal adult suffrage was achieved. Barbados joined the Federation of the West Indies (1958-1962), which also included Trinidad and Tobago.
Full internal self government was attained in 1961, and Barbados became an independent state in the Commonwealth of Nations on November 30, 1966. The country is a member of the United Nations and of the Organization of American States. Barbados helped form the Caribbean Community in 1973, which promotes social and political cooperation and economic integration. The island enjoys a stable democratic government, and a transfer of power between the two major political parties was achieved peacefully in 1976. This was the first since 1961. In 1986 the election results reversed the position of the parties in the assembly, and Errol Barrow of the Democratic Labour Party became prime minister. When he died in 1987, Erskine Sandiford succeeded him. A proposal by Barbados on regional security received good consideration by neighboring states in 1991.
Enchanting Barbados has flowered to become a unique blossom in the garland of the Caribbean islands. Its beauty lies not only in its special location, but in the relaxed hospitality of the Barbadian people - an intelligent, proud and free people, who cheerfully share their home with visitors from all over the world.
Barbados cultural roots are grounded in 300 years of British heritage, tradition which have shaped a healthy and genteel society recognized for a very high level of education and independent democratic form of government. This stable political climate combined with its natural beauty have cultivated a self assured people who enjoy having fun on their island as much as you will. There is much to do, and lots of places to visit no matter what your individual taste. Accommodations range from luxury hotels to bed and breakfast.
Come enjoy cricket and high tea ................ experience the charm of "Little England in the Tropics."
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