Barbados By Numbers

Background

Easternmost among the Caribbean islands is Barbados. It is interesting that the Caribbean and Atlantic crustal plates collided to form the island, which is less than one million years old. Accompanied with a volcanic eruption, coral developed and grew to a height of about 300 feet, giving birth to the existence of Barbados [1]. Continue reading to know more about Barbados By Numbers!

History of Barbados

Spanish map of the island [1632]

Early History

Amerindians (American Indians) is the collective term used to describe the peoples living in North or South America before the Europeans arrived. There were nine tribes: Arawak, Kapon, Pemon, Macusi, Warrau, Wapisiana, Wai Wai, Patamona and Carib. The tribe of Arawaks, who came from Venezuela, was the earliest native inhabitants of Barbados. From the Dragon’s mouth, a perilous sea channel, they paddled their way. Arawaks were of medium height, generally slim and with olive complexion. They paint their bodies with black, red, white paints and wore ornaments in their ears, nose, and around their necks. They settled in Barbados near the coast, barely leaving any evidence behind. They lived a peaceful life – grew cotton, cassava, corn, peanuts, guavas, and papayas, and made tools such as harpoons, net, and net to fish [1].

The cruel Caribs, who belong to another Amerindian tribe, conquered the Arawaks in 1200. They were medium in height and lean, and their brown skin was always painted with a vegetable dye called roucou. Barbados was first claimed by Spain for the Spanish Crown in 1511. The Portuguese Empire then seized control of the island between 1532 and 1536 but left it in 1620. However, the island was uninhabited when English Captain John Powell arrived in 1625; as a result, he claimed it for King James I of England. It became an English colony and then a British colony after the arrival of the first permanent inhabitants from England in 1627 [1] [2].

Sugar Revolution, Slavery, and Independence

Barbados Cane Field

The introduction of sugar cane from Dutch Brazil in 1640 drastically altered the social structure, economic climate, and topography. Barbados eventually developed one of the largest sugar businesses in the world. It was a thriving sugar colony that also served as an English center for the trade in African slaves [1] [2]. African slaves were imported at a period when it was urgently necessary to address the inadequate labor force. These slaves had to travel across the terrifying “Middle Passage” of the Atlantic, between 1640 and 1807, with no real assurance that they would all survive [3].

Many of the new residents of Barbados took advantage of the educational opportunities offered after slavery was abolished in 1834. These folks sought employment that went beyond working in the cane fields after receiving an education. Some of them were given key positions in offices, some stayed in the cane fields while few shoot their shot out of their comfort zones [2].

Barbados Vector Flag

The island always had ties to the British monarch, who was represented in Barbados by the Governor General, having gained complete independence in 1966 led by Premier Errol Walton Barrow of the Democratic Labour Party (previously the Democratic League) who subsequently became the first Prime Minister of Barbados. Last November 2021, Barbados became a republic, which meant that Britain, led by then Queen Elizabeth II no longer controlled the affairs of the country.

Arts and Culture

Crop Over Women’s Costume

On the island of Barbados, the arts and culture are very much alive because they are the very foundation of their identity. The island’s population is diverse, resulting in a fascinating fusion of many backgrounds and cultures that serves to unify and lead to some truly amazing masterpieces [3]. Barbadians from all walks of life exhibit their abilities across all genres of art at NIFCA (the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts) in November, when the nation celebrates its independence. The Governor General’s Award of Excellence, which is the highest honor given during this cultural extravaganza, is given to individuals who excel. Other prizes given out include top amateur awards, gold, silver, or bronze medals, and awards for professional contributions [4].

The majority of cultural attractions are in Bridgetown. The Barbados Museum, which opened its doors in 1933, features both ongoing and one-time exhibits that explore the island’s natural history and culture. The national collection is kept at the Barbados Art Gallery, which is close by. The principal historical records from both public and private sources are kept by the Barbados Department of Archives. The nation hosts theatrical companies, dance studios, and art displays. Internationally renowned Barbadian authors include Kamau Brathwaite and George Lamming. Barbados is a place where music is quite popular. Every January, the nation welcomes visitors to a well-known annual jazz festival [5].

Barbados is distinct from other places in many ways, including the sound of their language, how they communicate with one another, and the actual rum shops where people can meet. Cultural activities are important because they cause the island to come alive with color, creativity, and positive vibes. The Barbados population takes its culture quite literally and when questioned about how they are acting for any reason, they frequently respond with the phrase “dat is we culture” [3].

Languages

Happy Caribbean Man

Although English is the official language of Barbados, you may also hear their native speech, known as Bajan dialect. It is not surprising that Barbadians adopt British English, including the spelling of some words like center vs. center and favorite vs. favorite, given their lengthy British history and inheritance of the British educational system. English is used in formal situations and written communications while Bajan dialect is frequently heard in casual contexts. The language spoken in Barbados is a mix of many West African languages and British English. Now, more and more Barbadians are learning many languages, particularly French and Spanish [6].

Population

Locals in Barbados

The estimated population of Barbados as of 1 January 2022 was 289,096. Based on real-time data, here are some highlights for the population per age group [7]:

  • ages of 15 and 64 – 206,050 people
  • under the age of 15 – 54,706 people
  • above 64 years old – 28,340 people

As of September 2022, there were 672.3 persons per square kilometer (1,741.3/mi2) on Barbados. The population density in Barbados is calculated as the number of people who live there permanently divided by the nation’s total area. Total area is the total of all land and marine areas that are located within Barbados’ international borders and coasts. According to the United Nations Statistics Division, Barbados has a total area of 430 km2 (166 mi2) [7].

Economy

Barbados Product Exports in 2019

Barbados has a free-flowing, market-driven economy. The three most important industries are services, manufacturing, and agriculture. Remittances are also a significant source of income for Barbadians residing abroad. The per capita income of Barbados is comparatively high [5].

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Barbados in the year 2012 amounted to 4.61 Billion US$, gradually increased in 2014 with 4.7 Billion US$. By 2018, it increased to 5.1 Billion and went back to 4.69 Billion US$ by 2020, as shown in the table below [8].

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Barbados (2011-2020)

YEAR GDP (US$)
2011 4.66 Billion
2012 4.61 Billion
2013 4.68 Billion
2014 4.7 Billion
2015 4.72 Billion
2016 4.83 Billion
2017 4.98 Billion
2018 5.1 Billion
2019 5.3 Billion
2020 4.69 Billion

Barbados ranked 172 in the world in terms of exports in 2020, totaling $330M. Barbados’ exports decreased by -$146 Million over the past five reported years, falling from $476 Million in 2015 to $330 Million in 2020.

Hard liquor ($48.7M), packaged medications ($23.6M), cement ($21.1M), pesticides ($20.8M), and orthopedic devices ($20.1M) are the top exports in recent years. Barbados’ top export markets were the United States ($50.9 Million), Jamaica ($32.7 Million), Guyana ($27.7 Million), Trinidad and Tobago ($23.4 Million), and China ($17.8 Million) [9].

Here are some data on Barbados’ GDP per capita per year since 2011 until 2020 [10]:

Barbados GDP per capita per year (2011-2020)

YEAR GDP per capita (US $) Annual Growth Rate (%)
2020 $16,319 -11.70%
2019 $18,480 3.92%
2018 $17,783 2.18%
2017 $17,404 2.92%
2016 $16,910 2.12%
2015 $16,559 0.43%
2014 $16,489 0.22%
2013 $16,452 1.24%
2012 $16,250 -1.27%
2011 $16,459 2.51%

Services account for 85.5% of Barbados’ GDP. The average GDP per capita is $17,200.00. A total of 142,500 people are employed with 11.0% unemployment rate and a 1.3% inflation rate [11].

Agriculture and Fishing

Cotton Farming

A third of the area is agricultural, and sugarcane is primarily grown there. Up until the 1950s, the economy was dominated by the production of sugar, but its importance has indeed diminished. Large farm units continue to dominate agricultural production, but the pattern of production has changed mostly as a result of declining sugar prices, government-sponsored agricultural diversification programs, and restricted land settlement. As a result, there has been a large increase in the production of food, primarily for local use, including fruits, vegetables, and livestock. Additionally, excellent Sea Island cotton is cultivated. Tropical flower and foliage horticulture has also shown to be profitable. The island’s primary sector has long been fishing, and the government has supported it with modernization initiatives [5].

Resources and Manufacturing

Quarrying

Barbados has minimal natural resources, with the exception of a few tiny crude oil and natural gas deposits that supply around one-third of the island’s power needs. The most significant aspect of continuous economic activity has been the sustained exploitation of the climate and beaches for their tourist potential. One of the island’s resources could possibly be its large population, which offers an available supply of labour. As mentioned, remittances from the population who work overseas have had a big impact on the economy.

The mining sector only produces oil and natural gas, with minor clay, limestone, and sand quarrying. Government incentives made manufacturing one of the key economic growth sectors; nevertheless, this pattern started to change in the later 20th century [5].

Finance and Banking

Bank Transactions

The Central Bank of Barbados, which was founded in 1972, is the country’s central bank. Commercial banks and other development-focused financial institutions, most notably credit unions, also make up Barbados’ banking system. The majority of commercial banks are regional or local branches of larger international banks. The Barbados dollar (Bds$|) is used as the local currency [5].

Services

Miniature Van on the Road

Services, wholesale, and retail trade account for the majority of work. The primary source of foreign cash and a significant job, tourism is essential to the economy. During the second part of the 20th century, there was a significant increase in both the number of long-stay visitors and day tourists from cruise-ship dockings [5].

Travel and Tourism

South Coast of Barbados

In terms of absolute numbers, Barbados ranked 100th in the world in 2019 with a total of 966,000 tourists. The outcome is a much more comparable image when the number of tourists is compared to the population of Barbados: with 3.4 tourists per resident, Barbados ranked 19th in the world. It came in eleventh in the Caribbean. Barbados generated roughly 1.13 Billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This is equivalent to 22.96 % of its GDP and about 4% of all revenue from international travel to the Caribbean [12].

The Beaches of Carlisle Bay

Caribbean beach. Carlisle Bay, Antigua & Barbuda

Carlisle Bay, on the outskirts of Bridgetown, is one of Barbados’ most famous destinations. This is one of the most appealing places to dip your toes in the water or put up a beach chair with to its lovely blond beaches and vast lengths of turquoise waters that are extremely clear [13].

Downtown Bridgetown

People shopping in the capital Bridgetown

The nation’s capital, Bridgetown, is home to several attractions, but it’s also just a lovely spot to stroll about, shop, or have a bite to eat. The majority of the attractions are close together and accessible by foot, and the city is simple to navigate [13].

Animal Flower Cave

Reflections at Animal Flower Cave, Barbados

The Animal Flower Cave, located near the northernmost point of Barbados, is a popular destination because of both the cave and the breathtaking vistas that can be seen from the viewpoint above. Additionally, there is a chance to watch humpback whales from the side of a cliff above the cave from February to April [13].

Barbados Wildlife Reserve

Green Monkey of Barbados

Some of Barbados’ most renowned inhabitants, such as the island’s fabled green monkeys, can be seen and enjoyed at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. In this serene park, shady trails wind through the mahogany forest. Within the walls of the facility, agoutis, monkeys, deer, tortoises, and iguanas roam around freely, offering fantastic photo opportunities and up-close interactions. Snakes, caimans, maras, and parrots are a few of the other inhabitants [13].

Hunte’s Gardens

Green Gardens

Anthony Hunte’s vision and years of labor resulted in this masterpiece, Hunte’s Gardens. The gardens are located in a ravine in the center of the island and are built on tiered slopes, with twisting staircases and paths crisscrossing the gorgeous landscape. A variety of species, from enormous palm trees to uncommon and exotic plants, can be found in locations with shade and open, sunny areas. The gardens are a popular place for animals and birds [13].

Harrison’s Cave

Harrison’s Cave, Barbados

Harrison’s Cave is the place to go if one wants to escape Barbados’ intense heat and blinding sunshine for a place that is cooler and darker. Practically anyone can visit this cave. The main stalagmites and stalactites are featured with their own distinctive effect lighting in the dimly illuminated cave. Highlights include silent pools, flowing streams, and flowstones [13].

Sunbury Plantation Great House

Impressive Building in Barbados

Sunbury Plantation gives visitors a look into the usual life of the first inhabitants. The mansion, which Matthew Chapman built in 1660, is now a museum filled with antiques from the era, including lovely mahogany furniture and a collection of horse-drawn vehicles. On the guided tour, visitors are able to see every room. Recent repairs to the plantation’s grounds were considerable. The main building is surrounded by historical antiques, and the sidewalk and parking area are composed of bricks that are 200 years old [13].

Flower Forest

Botanic Gardens in Barbados

In the highlands of central Barbados, there is a delightful surprise called The Flower Forest. The walkways are lined with vibrant flowering plants and trees, and there are seats wrapped in shade where you may sit and unwind. The 53-acre woodland is always in bloom with various plants. Beautiful views of the green hillside and the ocean may be seen from the top elevations. Although the drive to the Flower Forest is winding and hilly, it is paved, making it less intimidating than it initially seems [13].

Folkestone Marine Park & Museum

Brownes beach in Barbados

The Folkestone Marine Park & Museum, a multipurpose park west of Holetown, offers snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as access to the beach and a playground. The Stavronikitia, a deliberately sunk ship resting in 120 feet of water approximately half a mile off the coast, is the marine park’s most famous feature. Divers with experience frequently dive from the ship, and nearby dive shops can help plan tours [13].

Interesting Facts about Barbados

Parliament Buildings in Bridgetown

The Lesser Antilles’ small country is a gem of the Caribbean. Numerous areas of interest can be identified because the country is made up of diverse cultural fusions. See below the essential information about stunning Barbados for ideas on how to spend your next trip [14]:

  1. Barbados is the birthplace of rum.
  2. Mega-star Rihanna started her humble beginnings in Barbados, where she was honoured with the title “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary” for Barbados in September 2018.
  3. Barbados is the land of flying fish, the reason for its famous national dish, cou cou and flying fish.
  4. Barbados’ name was once “Los Barbados” because of numerous bearded fig trees.
  5. Barbados’ biggest party is an epic Caribbean carnival celebration called Crop Over.
  6. Garfield St. Auburn Sobers, one of the greatest cricket legends, was from Barbados.
  7. Locals call themselves “Bajans”.
  8. Barbados is the home of small, moveable wooden homes known as “chattel houses”.
  9. The Green Monkey is a common sight in Barbados.
  10. The grapefruit originated in Barbados.
  11. Mauby is Barbados’ National Drink.
  12. The Barbados threadsnake, an endemic one, is the smallest known snake species.
  13. Tourists are only allowed up to 3 shells as their souvenir from the island.
  14. One can visit one of the 18 last remaining Concorde planes at the airport.
  15. Barbados was the third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, just like any other Caribbean country, Barbados has a lot of things to offer. From its wide and crystal-clear beaches to its various animals, rich history, culture, and arts. We sincerely hope that this article has broadened your knowledge about Barbados.

References:

[1] Barbados. (n.d). About Barbados: History Of Barbados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://barbados.org/history1.htm#.YyHGNz1Bzcu

[2] Brown, G. (2019). Bajans: A Brief History of Barbados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://sacco.org.uk/kaleidoscope/2019-out-africa-black-history-month-special/bajans-brief-history-barbados

[3] Barbados Pocket Guide. (n.d). History of Barbados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.barbadospocketguide.com/our-island-barbados/history-of-barbados.html

[4] Jenkins, C. (n.d). Artfully Barbados – How the Burgeoning Artistic Community Depicts the Essence of the Island Nation. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.artsandcollections.com/artfully-barbados-how-the-burgeoning-artistic-community-depicts-the-essence-of-the-island-nation/

[5] Jackson, C., Marshall, W., and Phillips, A. (2022, July 28). Barbados. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.britannica.com/place/Barbados

[6] Barbados. (n.d). Barbados Language. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://barbados.org/barbados-language.htm#.YyHmeD1Bzcs

[7] CountryMeters. (n.d). Barbados Population. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://countrymeters.info/en/Barbados#facts

[8] Data Bank. (n.d). GDP (current US$) – Barabados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?end=2020&locations=BB&start=2011

[9] OEC. (n.d). Barbados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://oec.world/en/profile/country/brb#yearly-trade

[10] Mactrotrends. (n.d). Barbados GDP Per Capita 2011-2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/BRB/barbados/gdp-per-capita

[11] Country Reports. (n.d). Barbados Economy. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.countryreports.org/country/Barbados/economy.htm

[12] World Data. (n.d). Tourism in Barbados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.worlddata.info/america/barbados/tourism.php

[13] Law, L. (2020, November 17). 19 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Barbados. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/barbados-bar.htm

[14] Morrow, K. (2020, March 3). 15 Incredible Things Barbados Is Known For. Retrieved September 14, 2022 from https://www.sandals.com/blog/things-barbados-is-known-for/