Barbados is named after a tree. When the Portuguese first discovered the island in 1536 the Bearded Fig Tree was found all over the island. “Los Barbados” is Portuguese for “The Bearded One.”
The British established a colony in Barbados in 1627 and began growing cotton and tobacco. The sugar industry didn’t begin in Barbados until the 1640s.
Unlike the other Caribbean islands, Barbados has never been invaded by a foreign power since the British took rule in 1627.
Barbados has the third oldest Westminster-style parliaments in the Western Hemisphere. It has been in existence for 369 years.
Queen Elizabeth II is still the official head of Barbados, as the island remains a part of the Commonwealth.
Barbados has had 8 Prime Ministers since becoming independent in 1966.
Barbados’ flag is full of symbolism. The ultramarine blue on the flag represents the ocean and sky, and the gold-yellow panel represents the sandy beaches of the island. The broken trident represents the country breaking free from its status as a colony.
The Barbados flag design was chosen from an open competition with thousands of entries, Grantley Prescod’s design was chosen as the flag of Barbados.
The people of Barbados are officially called Barbadian but more commonly known as Bajans (BAY-juns)
English is the official language of Barbados although most people speak a dialect called Bajan that can differ from parish to parish.
Barbados has a population of 285,984 people (2017)
Barbados is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide (166 square miles)
The island is divided into 11 parishes.
There are only two parishes that do not have a coastline – St. Thomas and St. George
The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown located in the south-west parish of St. Michael.
The Lord Nelson Statue in Bridgetown was erected 22 March 1812 making it older than the famous Lord Nelson Statue in Trafalgar Square in London.
The currency in Barbados is The Barbados Dollar (BDS) it is tied to the US Dollar (US $1 = BDS $2)
The time in Barbados is GMT – 4 and there is no daylight-saving time (the time remains the same year-round)
Bim or Bimshire is Barbados’ nickname.
Barbados is also known as “the land of flying fish” as they are seen gliding around the island. They can glide for up to 45 seconds at speeds of more than 70km / hour!
The National Dish of Barbados is Cou Cou and Flying Fish.
The National Flower is called the Pride of Barbados. The leaf is supposed to help a baby to stop crying.
The National Sport of Barbados is Cricket.
Arguably the world greatest cricketer, Sir. Garfield Sobers was born in Barbados. He was Knighted by The Queen and is the only living Barbados National Hero at 81 years old.
Road tennis was invented in Barbados in the 1930s.
The Grapefruit originated in Barbados. George Washington referred to it as “The Forbidden Fruit” on his visit to Barbados in 1750.
Barbados is the only place outside of the USA that President George Washington visited in his lifetime. He even had a house here which still stands today.
Many people used to travel to Barbados for its health benefits. It was considered the healthiest place in the world in the 1840s having 1 death per 66 people compared to the world average of 1 death per 35 people.
Barbados and Japan have the highest per capita occurrences of centenarians in the world.
There used to be an island off the coast of Barbados called Pelican Island. The island used to hold a quarantine facility to prevent the spreading of infectious diseases to the mainland. Between 1656 and 1961 the land between Pelican Island and Barbados was reclaimed to build the Barbados cruise port.
Barbados is not in the Caribbean Sea, it is entirely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
Barbados was not formed by volcanic actively like the other Caribbean island but rather by the collision of the Caribbean plate with the Atlantic Plate.
The southern position of Barbados, at 13 degrees north, puts it just outside the hurricane “Strike Zone”
The last hurricane to hit Barbados was Janet in 1955. (knock on wood)
Barbados has an average temperature of 28 degrees year-round.
Although Barbados is 3000 miles away from West Africa, it often experiences high amounts of dust coming from the Sahara.
There are 2 official seasons in Barbados – The Rainy Season (June to November) and The Dry Season (December to May)
Barbados was the first Caribbean Island to have piped water. Groundwater is filtered through the limestone into underground caves making it extra pure for drinking.
Barbados is home to Mount Gay Rum– the rum that invented rum. Mount Gay Rum is the oldest rum brand in the world dating back to 1703. Today the rum is exported to 110 countries in the world.
The legal age for drinking alcohol in Barbados is 18 years; however, children between 10-17 years are permitted to consume alcohol when accompanied by a parent.
Barbados was the only tropical destination with a scheduled Concorde flight. One of the retired jets now resides at our airport where you can board and tour the Concorde.
Annually, Barbados welcomes about 1 million visitors to our shores.
Tourism is the main industry in Barbados employing about 14,000 people and responsible for 12% of our GDP.
Barbados has the highest return rate of visitors in the Caribbean. Surveys show that visitors return due to the friendliness of the local people.
Barbados is a popular location for destination weddings. There is no minimum waiting period for getting married in Barbados, nor is there a minimum required length of time on the island. Learn More.
Barbados has a literacy rate close to 100% with the government spending 6.7% of GDP on education (2008).
The main religion in Barbados is Christianity (95%) with the largest denomination being Anglican (40%).
Barbados is home to the oldest Jewish synagogue in the Americas (1654).
Barbados has the second largest (critically endangered) hawksbill turtle breeding population in the Caribbean. Many nest right out front of Sugar Bay Barbados.
Other wildlife you can find on the island are Green Monkeys (originally from Senegal, brought on the slave ships) and Mongooses (brought from India in 1878 to irradiate rats). Mongooses serve as a reminder not to tamper with nature. Rats are nocturnal, so the mongooses became one of the worst predators preying on poultry and damaging crops instead.
Barbados is the birthplace of Rhianna. Barbados named the street that Rhianna grew up on after her on Independence Day last year.
This year (2018) Barbados elected its first female Prime Minister. The election was a landslide victory with the BLP (Barbados Labour Party) winning every seat.