Photos of Barbados

Introduction

Background

Barbados was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. Enslaved Africans 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 independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance. Barbados became a republic in 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.

Geography

Location

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

Area

total: 430 sq km

land: 430 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 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

Climate

tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Terrain

relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region

Elevation

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

Population

303,431 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 180

Nationality

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.)

Languages

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

Religions

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: 16.78% (male 25,456/female 25,465)

15-64 years: 67.56% (male 100,884/female 104,114)

65 years and over: 15.66% (2023 est.) (male 19,967/female 27,545)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 49

youth dependency ratio: 25.6

elderly dependency ratio: 23.4

potential support ratio: 4.3 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 41 years (2023 est.)

male: 39.9 years

female: 42.1 years

comparison ranking: total 50

Population growth rate

0.24% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 172

Birth rate

10.7 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 174

Death rate

8 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 87

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 115

Population distribution

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

Urbanization

urban population: 31.4% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

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

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

39 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 106

Infant mortality rate

total: 9.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 11.3 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.2 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 137

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 76 years

female: 81.6 years

comparison ranking: total population 67

Total fertility rate

1.7 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 163

Gross reproduction rate

0.85 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 98.8% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 2% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

7.2% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

2.49 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

6 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

23.1% (2016)

comparison ranking: 69

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 9.94 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 3.66 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 1.36 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 4.75 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.17 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 22

Tobacco use

total: 8.5% (2020 est.)

male: 15% (2020 est.)

female: 1.9% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 144

Education expenditures

6.5% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 31

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99.6%

male: 99.6%

female: 99.6% (2014)

Environment

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

Climate

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.)

Urbanization

urban population: 31.4% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.01% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 158

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 58

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 9.79 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.28 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 2.35 megatons (2020 est.)

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 (2020 est.)

industrial: 10 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 5 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

80 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

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 indigenous Carib inhabitants

Government type

parliamentary republic; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

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

Independence

30 November 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 November (1966)

Constitution

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 in November 2021, the Government of Barbados in February 2022 began the process of establishing a constitution commission to review a new draft 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

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

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: president elected by an electoral college of both Houses of Parliament for a 4-year renewable term; election last held on 20 October 2021 (next to be held in); 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

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (21 seats statutory - 21 current; 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; members serve 5-year terms)
House of Assembly (30 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections:
Senate - last appointments on 4 February 2022 (next appointments in February 2027)
House of Assembly - last held on 19 January 2022 (next to be held in January 2027)

election results:
Senate - appointed: BLP 12, independent 9; composition as of January 2024 - men 13, women 8, percent of women 38.1%
House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - BLP 69%, DLP 26.5%, other 4.5%; seats by party - BLP 30; composition as of August 2023 - men 22, women 8, percent of women 26.7%; note - total Parliament percent of women 32.7%

note: tradition dictates that the next 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 court(s): 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

Alliance Party for Progress or APP [Joseph ATHERLEY]
Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]
Democratic Labor Party or DLP [Ronnie YEARWOOD]

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

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:
washington@foreign.gov.bb

https://www.foreign.gov.bb/embassies-high-commissions-and-permanent-missions/

consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Roger F. NYHUS (since 19 January 2024) 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:
BridgetownACS@state.gov

https://bb.usembassy.gov/

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"

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison

Economy

Economic overview

largest Eastern Caribbean economy; dependent on US imports and currency strength; high Human Development Index; key tourism and financial sectors; declining but still very high public debt; cost-of-living and cost competitiveness vulnerabilities

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.342 billion (2022 est.)
$3.9 billion (2021 est.)
$3.931 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 185

Real GDP growth rate

11.33% (2022 est.)
-0.78% (2021 est.)
-12.74% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 10

Real GDP per capita

$15,400 (2022 est.)
$13,900 (2021 est.)
$14,000 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 109

GDP (official exchange rate)

$5.7 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.1% (2019 est.)
3.67% (2018 est.)
4.66% (2017 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 59

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: B- (2019)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 9.8% (2017 est.)

services: 88.7% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 12; industry 208; agriculture 188

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, sweet potatoes, tropical fruit

Industries

tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export

Industrial production growth rate

5.02% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 59

Labor force

145,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 179

Unemployment rate

8.5% (2022 est.)
9.48% (2021 est.)
9.74% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 151

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 30.6% (2021 est.)

male: 34.8%

female: 25.6%

comparison ranking: total 36

Remittances

1.49% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.73% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $1.271 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $1.483 billion (2020 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 156

Public debt

146.61% of GDP (2016 est.)
141.16% of GDP (2015 est.)
129.32% of GDP (2014 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 6

Taxes and other revenues

27.42% (of GDP) (2016 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 34

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

-$296.396 million (2017 est.)
-$452.39 million (2016 est.)
-$98.732 million (2015 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 101

Exports

$2.228 billion (2017 est.)
$2.41 billion (2016 est.)
$2.358 billion (2015 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 160

Exports - partners

United States 20%, Jamaica 12%, Guyana 8%, Trinidad and Tobago 7%, Italy 6% (2021)

Exports - commodities

rums and liquors, ships, packaged medicines, cement, paper labels (2021)

Imports

$2.12 billion (2021 est.)
$2.213 billion (2017 est.)
$2.238 billion (2016 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 176

Imports - partners

United States 33%, Guyana 13%, China 11%, Trinidad and Tobago 6%, United Kingdom 4% (2021)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, crude petroleum, shipping containers, cars, ships, packaged medicines (2021)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.52 billion (2022 est.)
$1.673 billion (2021 est.)
$1.358 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 146

Debt - external

$4.49 billion (2010 est.)
$668 million (2003 est.)

comparison ranking: 137

Exchange rates

Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
2 (2022 est.)
2 (2021 est.)
2 (2020 est.)
2 (2019 est.)
2 (2018 est.)

note: the Barbadian dollar is pegged to the US dollar

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 311,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 1 billion kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 20 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 160; transmission/distribution losses 29; imports 174; exports 166; consumption 160

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 95.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 4.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 1,000 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 10,800 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 700 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 2 million barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 175

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 183

Refined petroleum products - imports

10,630 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 147

Natural gas

production: 14.923 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 20.954 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 6.031 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

proven reserves: 113 million cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

1.703 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 1.662 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 41,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 163

Energy consumption per capita

83.723 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 68

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 121,314 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 43 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 131

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 316,633 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 113 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 179

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the telecom sector has seen a decline in subscriber numbers (particularly for prepaid mobile services the mainstay of short term visitors) and revenue; fixed and mobile broadband services are two areas that have benefited from the crisis as employees and students have resorted to working from home; one area of the telecom market that is not prepared for growth is 5G mobile; governments, regulators, and even the mobile network operators have shown that they have not been investing in 5G opportunities at the present time; network expansion and enhancements remain concentrated around improving LTE coverage (2021)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity of roughly 43 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density about 113 per 100 persons (2021)

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)

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 (2019)

Internet users

total: 240,800 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 86% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 177

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 128,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 45 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 125

Transportation

Airports

2 (2024)

comparison ranking: 198

Heliports

1 (2024)

Pipelines

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

Roadways

total: 1,700 km

paved: 1,700 km (2015)

comparison ranking: total 175

Merchant marine

total: 272 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 90, general cargo 149, oil tanker 5, other 28

comparison ranking: total 59

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bridgetown

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Barbados Defense Force (BDF): The Barbados Regiment, The Barbados Coast Guard (2024)

note 1: the BDF also has a Youth Development Wing, which is comprised of the Barbados Cadet Corps and the Barbados Defense Force Sports Program

note 2: authority over the BDF is shared between the president and prime minister, with the president overseeing strategic direction and the prime minister responsible for operational leadership

note 3: the Barbados Police Service (TBPS) is the national police force; it is modeled after London's Metropolitan Police Service and divided into three territorial divisions

Military expenditures

0.8% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.9% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.9% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $35 million)
0.8% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $40 million)

comparison ranking: 137

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 600 active personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Netherlands provide the BDF's major equipment inventory (maritime patrol boats) (2023)

Military service age and obligation

voluntary service only (men and women); 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 (18-30 for the Reserves) at the start of recruit training; citizens of Barbados by descent or naturalization (2024)

Military - note

formed in 1979, the Barbados Defense Force (BDF) is responsible for protecting national security, but it may also be called up to maintain internal public order in times of crisis, emergency, or other specific needs, such as special joint patrols with the police; it also provides humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations both domestically and regionally under the Caribbean Regional Security System (RSS); other duties include assisting with national development, such as through the training of the country's youth with the units of the Barbados Cadet Corps 

Barbados has been a member of the Caribbean RSS since its creation in 1982; RSS signatories (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, 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 (2024)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Barbados-Venezuela (Maritime Boundary): Barbados joins other Caribbean states and the United Kingdom to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island, a large sandbar with some vegetation, sustains human habitation or economic life, the criteria under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Article 121, which would permit Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea; the dispute hampers hydrocarbon prospecting and creation of exploration blocks 

Illicit drugs

a transit point for cocaine and marijuana destined for North America, Europe, and elsewhere in the Caribbean; some local demand for cocaine and some use of synthetic drugs