Barbados Story


This is our story – a whirlwind introduction to our island. Giving you a flavour of who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.

Where we are

Take a look at the map. You’ll see we’re located in the eastern Caribbean, but slightly set apart from the island chain

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Our closest neighbours are St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia to the west. Then to the south you’ll find Trinidad and Tobago. Zoom out for a bit of perspective, and you’ll see we’re 2,573 km (1,600 miles) southeast of Miami – just under four hours in flight.

Barbados falls within the Atlantic time zone, which is Greenwich Mean Time minus four hours (GMT-4), with no daylight savings time.

“Wherever you are in Barbados, you’re never far from the beach and the sound of the waves.”

Island tour

Nothing beats an island tour. It’s the best way to learn about Barbados firsthand, taking in all the sights – from beaches to rum distilleries to historic Bridgetown. But until we get you on island and paired up with one of our fantastic tour guides, here’s the desk-based version:

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Our compact size means that wherever you are in Barbados, you’re never far from the beach and the sound of the waves. Barbados is 430 sq km (166 sq miles). Visually that means the island is nearly twice the size of Martha’s Vineyard (250 sq km / 96 sq miles). Or just slightly bigger than the Isle of Wight, for those of you on the other side of the pond. But let’s resist comparisons – we know our island more than measures up!

Barbados is divided into eleven parishes. And our capital is Bridgetown, in the parish of St Michael. While many of our neighbours were volcanically formed, Barbados is primarily made of coral formations, creating gulleys, caves and our stunning white-sand beaches. The terrain is mostly flat, with a few exceptions like the rugged Scotland District in the northeast of the island.

We’re located right where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, so Barbados enjoys north-east trade winds all year helping to keep the island cool, and extremes of heat are rare. The average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and seldom varies by more than five degrees in the day, or 10 degrees at night.

How we run

On November 30 2021 (our 55th Independence Day) Her Excellency The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, FB, GCMG, DA, SC, LLD was sworn in as our first President,…

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replacing the British Monarch as the head of state, and making Barbados a republic.

Since 1966 Barbados has been an independent nation. We have a parliamentary democracy, meaning that the political party with the greatest representation in parliament forms the government. That’s where our other leading lady comes in – our Prime Minister – The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, SC, MP is the current leader of the government and forms a cabinet from party members in the legislature.

Our legal system is based on British common law. Our independent judiciary ensures the impartial resolution of disputes. The tribunal of last resort is the Caribbean Court of Justice.

In November 2021 Barbados became a republic, replacing the British Monarch with our first President.

Where we've
come from

If you turn back time, you’ll see Barbados has been home to different peoples over time – all contributing to our rich culture.

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First came Arawak Indians from South America, bringing crops like cassava and sweet potato and inhabiting the island from around 350 to 400 BC. When the British arrived in 1625, the uninhabited island was claimed in the name of King James I. Two years later the first settlers landed on the west coast and established Jamestown, near to our current-day Holetown.

These early settlers cultivated tobacco and cotton before switching to sugar production, a defining move in the history of Barbados. To meet the increased labour demands, enslaved Africans were shipped in as part of the transatlantic triangular slave trade. The legacy of this dark time can be seen in our ethnicity, with a 90 percent black population. Emancipation came in 1838, although Barbados remained a British colony until autonomy was granted in 1961. We then gained full independence in 1966.

The first leader of Barbados as a free nation was the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow. In the January 2022 general elections, the Barbados Labour Party scored a sweeping victory, winning all 30 seats for the second time, returning Barbados’ first female Prime Minister, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, SC, MP to office for her second term.

Barbados has been home to different peoples over time – all contributing to our rich and diverse culture

Where we're

While it’s important to look back to understand where we’ve come from – we’re focused on the way forward.

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We’ve come a long way from that mono-crop agricultural economy with up to 60 percent of the island’s GDP directly attributable to the sugar industry. Ever since that time, successive governments have had deliberate policies to diversify the  economy, and to facilitate sustainable, economic momentum on the island.

Looking ahead, we have big plans to continue diversifying and to stay ahead of global trends. Our government is committed to attracting and nurturing investment in many areas including emerging sectors such as Fintech, medicinal cannabis, renewable energy and biotech. We recognise that these sectors are growing exponentially, and we are ready to play our part.

So, that’s our story so far. We’d love you to come join us for the next chapter.

The Barbados government is committed to diversifying the economy and attracting and nurturing foreign investment.

Here’s a snapshot
of our economy
from 2022

The four main sectors contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the island during 2022 (p) were accommodation and food services US $1,273.9 million, real estate US $1,216.4 million, wholesale & retail trade US $1,111.4 million and business services US $1,046 million.

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 Other sectors contributing to GDP included transportation & storage US $936.4 million, finance & insurance US $808.2 million, construction US $640.7 million, personal & other services including of private education & health US $554.4 million, manufacturing US $535.8 million, information & communications US $487.4 million, public administration, defence & social security US $472.9 million, public education US $301.3 million, electricity, gas & water US $225.5 million, agriculture & fishing US $165.8 million, public health US $114.9 million, and mining & quarrying US $20.6 million.