Barbados

Country Summary

Introduction

Background

The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. By 1720, Barbados was no longer a dominant force within the sugar industry, having been surpassed by the Leeward Islands and Jamaica. Social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. On 30 November 2021, Barbados became a republic.

Geography

Area

total: 430 sq km
land: 430 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Climate

tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, natural gas

People and Society

Population

303,431 (2023 est.)

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.)

Population growth rate

0.24% (2023 est.)

Government

Government type

parliamentary republic; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Bridgetown

Executive branch

chief of state: President Sandra MASON (since 30 November 2021)
head of government: Prime Minister Mia MOTTLEY (since 25 May 2018)

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)

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)

$3.868 billion (2021 est.)
$3.875 billion (2020 est.)
$4.47 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$13,800 (2021 est.)
$13,800 (2020 est.)
$16,000 (2019 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

Exports

$357 million (2021 est.)
$550 million (2017 est.)
$516.9 million (2016 est.)

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.)
$1.541 billion (2016 est.)

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)

Exchange rates

Barbadian dollars (BBD) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
2 (2021 est.)
2 (2020 est.)
2 (2019 est.)
2 (2018 est.)
2 (2017 est.)


Page last updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2024