Bridgetown is the capital city of the island nation of Barbados, located to the east of the Lesser Antilles Island chain. While Barbados is considered part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located within the western Atlantic Ocean rather than the Caribbean Sea. Besides being the seat of government, Bridgetown is the largest city in Barbados. It and the surrounding towns that make up the Greater Bridgetown area are located along the southwestern coastline of the island. The metropolitan area is readily recognizable in this astronaut photograph due to the gray and white rooftops and street grids (image center) that contrast with green vegetated fields and riverside areas of the island's interior to the northeast (image top center). Bridgetown is a major port destination for both commercial and cruise ships serving the eastern Caribbean - several ships are visible within Carlisle Bay. Water color in the image changes from light blue along the coastline - indicating shallow water - to the dark blue of deeper water away from the island. Photo courtesy of NASA.
Country Flag
Country Map
Download Country Documents
Locator Map



The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. African slaves worked the sugar plantations established on the island, which initially dominated the Caribbean sugar industry. By 1720 Barbados was no longer a dominant force within the sugar industry, having been surpassed by the Leeward Islands and Jamaica. Slavery was abolished in 1834. The Barbadian economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th century. The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance. Barbados became a republic on 30 November 2021, with the former Governor-General Sandra MASON elected as the first president.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates

13 10 N, 59 32 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 430 sq km

land: 430 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 201

Area - comparative

2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; rainy season (June to October)


relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region


highest point: Mount Hillaby 336 m

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 32.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 25.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 4.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 19.4% (2018 est.)

other: 48% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

50 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most densely populated country in the eastern Caribbean; approximately one-third live in urban areas

Natural hazards

infrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides

Geography - note

easternmost Caribbean island

People and Society


noun: Barbadian(s) or Bajan (colloquial)

adjective: Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)

Ethnic groups

African descent 92.4%, mixed 3.1%, White 2.7%, East Indian 1.3%, other 0.2%, unspecified 0.3% (2010 est.)


English (official), Bajan (English-based creole language, widely spoken in informal settings)


Protestant 66.4% (includes Anglican 23.9%, other Pentecostal 19.5%, Adventist 5.9%, Methodist 4.2%, Wesleyan 3.4%, Nazarene 3.2%, Church of God 2.4%, Baptist 1.8%, Moravian 1.2%, other Protestant 0.9%), Roman Catholic 3.8%, other Christian 5.4% (includes Jehovah's Witness 2.0%, other 3.4%), Rastafarian 1%, other 1.5%, none 20.6%, unspecified 1.2% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.49% (male 25,762/female 25,764)

15-24 years: 12.34% (male 18,024/female 18,330)

25-54 years: 42.69% (male 62,655/female 63,093)

55-64 years: 13.91% (male 19,533/female 21,430)

65 years and over: 13.57% (male 16,398/female 23,571) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Barbados. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50.3

youth dependency ratio: 25.2

elderly dependency ratio: 25.1

potential support ratio: 4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 39.5 years

male: 38.4 years

female: 40.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Birth rate

10.96 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Death rate

7.9 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 92

Net migration rate

-0.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 114

Population distribution

most densely populated country in the eastern Caribbean; approximately one-third live in urban areas


urban population: 31.2% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.46% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

89,000 BRIDGETOWN (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female

total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

27 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 115

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.23 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 11.84 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.31 years

male: 75.54 years

female: 81.13 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Drinking water source

improved: total: 98.5% of population

unimproved: total: 1.5% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

2.48 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

6 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 99.2% of population

unimproved: total: 0.8% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2019 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99.6%

male: 99.6%

female: 99.6% (2014)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 14 years

female: 17 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 26%

male: 30.3%

female: 21.2% (2019 est.)


Environment - current issues

pollution of coastal waters from waste disposal by ships; soil erosion; illegal solid waste disposal threatens contamination of aquifers

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 22.24 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.28 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 2.35 megatons (2020 est.)


tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Land use

agricultural land: 32.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 25.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 4.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 19.4% (2018 est.)

other: 48% (2018 est.)


urban population: 31.2% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.46% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 63

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 174,815 tons (2011 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 15,733 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 9% (2015 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 20 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 6.2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 54.8 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

80 million cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Barbados

etymology: the name derives from the Portuguese "as barbadas," which means "the bearded ones" and can refer either to the long, hanging roots of the island's bearded fig trees or to the alleged beards of the native Carib inhabitants

Government type

parliamentary republic; a Commonwealth realm


name: Bridgetown

geographic coordinates: 13 06 N, 59 37 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after a bridge constructed over the swampy area (known as the Careenage) around the Constitution River that flows through the center of Bridgetown

Administrative divisions

11 parishes and 1 city*; Bridgetown*, Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas


30 November 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 November (1966)


history: adopted 22 November 1966, effective 30 November 1966;  Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2021 establishes Barbados as a republic and revokes the earlier Order in Council

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage of amendments to constitutional sections such as citizenship, fundamental rights and freedoms, and the organization and authorities of the branches of government requires two-thirds majority vote by the membership of both houses of Parliament; passage of other amendments only requires a majority vote of both houses; amended several times, last in 2021

note - following the transition to a republic on 30 November 2021, the Government of Barbados plans a consultation on drafting a new constitution

Legal system

English common law; no judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Sandra MASON (since 30 November 2021)

head of government: Prime Minister Mia MOTTLEY (since 25 May 2018)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the president is elected by an electoral college of both Houses of Parliament for a four year renewable term; election last held 20 October 2021; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the president; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister

election results: Sandra MASON elected as first president on 20 October 2021 to take office on 30 November 2021

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (21 seats; members appointed by the president - 12 on the advice of the Prime Minister, 2 on the advice of the opposition leader, and 7 at the discretion of the president)
House of Assembly (30 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

Senate - last appointments on 5 June 2018 (next appointments NA)
House of Assembly - last held on 24 May 2018 (next to be held in 2023)

election results:
Senate - appointed; composition - men 16, women 5, percent of women 23.8%
House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - BLP 74.6%, DLP 22.6%, other 2.8%; seats by party - BLP 30; composition - men 24, women 6, percent of women 20%; note - total Parliament percent of women 21.6%

note: tradition dictates that the election is held within 5 years of the last election, but constitutionally it is 5 years from the first seating of Parliament plus a 90-day grace period

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the High Court with 8 justices) and the Court of Appeal (consists of the High Court chief justice and president of the court and 4 justices; note - in 2005, Barbados acceded to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal, replacing that of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister and opposition leader of Parliament; other justices appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, a 5-member independent body consisting of the Supreme Court chief justice, the commission head, and presidential appointees recommended by the prime minister; justices serve until mandatory retirement at age 65

subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts

Political parties and leaders

Bajan Free Party [Alex MITCHELL]
Barbados Integrity Movement [Neil HOLDER]
Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]
Democratic Labor Party or DLP [Freundel STUART]
People’s Democratic Congress [Mark ADAMSON]
People's Empowerment Party or PEP [David COMISSIONG]
Solutions Barbados [Grenville PHILLIPS II]
United Progressive Party or UPP [Lynette EASTMOND]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Noel Anderson LYNCH (since 11 January 2019)

chancery: 2144 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 939-9200

FAX: [1] (202) 332-7467

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Linda S. TAGLIALATELA (since 1 February 2016) note - also accredited to Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

embassy: Wildey Business Park, St. Michael BB 14006, Barbados, W.I.

mailing address: 3120 Bridgetown Place, Washington DC  20521-3120

telephone: (246) 227-4000

FAX: (246) 431-0179

email address and website:

Flag description

three equal vertical bands of ultramarine blue (hoist side), gold, and ultramarine blue with the head of a black trident centered on the gold band; the band colors represent the blue of the sea and sky and the gold of the beaches; the trident head represents independence and a break with the past (the colonial coat of arms contained a complete trident)

National symbol(s)

Neptune's trident, pelican, Red Bird of Paradise flower (also known as Pride of Barbados); national colors: blue, yellow, black

National anthem

name: The National Anthem of Barbados

lyrics/music: Irving BURGIE/C. Van Roland EDWARDS

note: adopted 1966; the anthem is also known as "In Plenty and In Time of Need"


Economic overview

Barbados is the wealthiest and one of the most developed countries in the Eastern Caribbean and enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners, boosted by being in the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and by a relatively highly educated workforce. Following the 2008-09 recession, external vulnerabilities such as fluctuations in international oil prices have hurt economic growth, raised Barbados' already high public debt to GDP ratio - which stood at 105% of GDP in 2016 - and cut into its international reserves.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.7 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$4.49 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$4.49 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 185

Real GDP growth rate

-0.2% (2017 est.)

2.3% (2016 est.)

2.2% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 195

Real GDP per capita

$12,900 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$15,600 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$15,700 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 117

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.99 billion (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: B- (2019)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 9.8% (2017 est.)

services: 88.7% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 84.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 13.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 17.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 31.6% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -47% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, poultry, vegetables, milk, eggs, pork, coconuts, pulses nes, sweet potatoes, tropical fruit


tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10%

industry: 15%

services: 75% (1996 est.)


revenues: 1.466 billion (2013 est.) (2017 est.)

expenditures: 1.664 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

157.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

149.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 3

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

-$189 million (2017 est.)

-$206 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97


$485.4 million (2017 est.)

$516.9 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

Exports - partners

US 21%, Poland 14%, Jamaica 8%, Guyana 6%,Trinidad and Tobago 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

rums and other hard liquor, ships, orthopedic appliances, cement, packaged medicines (2019)


$1.52 billion (2017 est.)

$1.541 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

Imports - partners

United States 35%, Trinidad and Tobago 14%, China 9%, Netherlands 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, ships, cars, shipping containers, packaged medicines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$264.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$341.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 169

Debt - external

$4.49 billion (2010 est.)

$668 million (2003 est.)

country comparison to the world: 137

Exchange rates

Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar -

2 (2017 est.)

2 (2016 est.)

2 (2015 est.)

2 (2014 est.)

2 (2013 est.)

note: the Barbadian dollar is pegged to the US dollar

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 26%

male: 30.3%

female: 21.2% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 128,043 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 44.61 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 130

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 329,326 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 114.7 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: island-wide automatic telephone system; telecom sector across the Caribbean region remains one of the key growth areas and contributors to the overall GDP; numerous competitors licensed, but small and localized (2020)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 48 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density about 109 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 1-246; landing points for the ECFS and Southern Caribbean Fiber submarine cable with links to 15 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad and Puerto Ricco; satellite earth stations - 1 (Intelsat - Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Trinidad and Saint Lucia (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

government-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) operates the lone terrestrial TV station; CBC also operates a multi-channel cable TV subscription service; roughly a dozen radio stations, consisting of a CBC-operated network operating alongside privately owned radio stations

Internet users

total: 235,100 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 81.76% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 176

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 106,803 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37.21 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 123


Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2019)


33 km gas, 64 km oil, 6 km refined products (2013)


total: 1,700 km (2015)

paved: 1,700 km (2015)

country comparison to the world: 173

Merchant marine

total: 165

by type: bulk carrier 46, general cargo 103, other 16 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 71

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bridgetown

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Barbados Defense Force: The Barbados Regiment, The Barbados Coast Guard (2021)

Military expenditures

0.9% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.8% of GDP (2019)

0.8% of GDP (2018)

0.9% of GDP (2017)

0.9% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 132

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Barbados Defense Force (BDF) has approximately 600 active personnel (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Netherlands provide the BDF's major equipment inventory (maritime patrol boats) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

Voluntary service only; 17 years, 9 months to 17 years, 11 months with letter of consent from a parent or guardian, or be in the age range of 18-25 years at the start of recruit training; citizens of Barbados by descent or naturalization (2021)

Military - note

Barbados has been a member of the Caribbean Regional Security System (RSS) since its creation in 1982; RSS signatories (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) agreed to prepare contingency plans and assist one another, on request, in national emergencies, prevention of smuggling, search and rescue, immigration control, fishery protection, customs and excise control, maritime policing duties, protection of off-shore installations, pollution control, national and other disasters, and threats to national security; the RSS is headquartered in Barbados

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago abide by the April 2006 Permanent Court of Arbitration decision delimiting a maritime boundary and limiting catches of flying fish in Trinidad and Tobago's exclusive economic zone; joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which permits Venezuela to extend its Economic Exclusion Zone/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Barbados; foreign women are subject to sex trafficking; children are exploited in sex trafficking by parents and caregivers, according to anecdotal reports; documented and undocumented migrants from Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Venezuela are at high risk for trafficking, while migrants from other nearby countries are increasingly vulnerable

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Barbados does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the government completed an anti-trafficking manual on assisting and interviewing victims, reinstated the anti-trafficking task force, and increased training for law enforcement and child care officials; however, authorities again did not identify any trafficking victims, reported no new prosecutions, and have never convicted anyone of trafficking; the national action plan has yet to be completed (2020)

Illicit drugs

a transit point for cocaine and marijuana destined for North America, Europe, and elsewhere in the Caribbean