|Facts & Figures|
Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II
Governor-General: Sir Elliot Belgrave (2012)
Prime Minister: Freundel Stuart
Land area: 166 sq mi (430 sq km); total
area 166 sq mi (431 sq km)
Population (2012 est.): 287,733 (growth
rate: 0.35%); birth rate: 12.23/1000; infant mortality rate:
12.23/1000; life expectancy: 74.52; density per sq km: 654
Capital and largest city (2009 est.):
Monetary unit: Barbados dollar
More Facts & Figures
An island in the Atlantic about 300 mi (483 km)
north of Venezuela, Barbados is only 21 mi long (34 km) and 14 mi across
(23 km) at its widest point. It is circled by fine beaches and narrow
coastal plains. The highest point is Mount Hillaby (1,105 ft; 337 m) in
the north-central area.
Barbados is thought to have been originally
inhabited by Arawak Indians. By the time Europeans explored the island,
however, it was uninhabited. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to
set foot on the island, but it was the British who first established a
colony there in 1627. Colonists first cultivated tobacco and cotton, but
by the 1640s they had switched to sugar, which was enormously profitable.
Slaves were brought in from Africa to work sugar plantations, and
eventually the population was about 90% black. A slave revolt took place
in 1816; slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834.
Barbados was the administrative headquarters of
the Windward Islands until it became a separate colony in 1885. Barbados
was a member of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 to 1962.
Britain granted the colony independence on Nov. 30, 1966, and it became a
parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth.
Since independence, Barbados has been
politically stable. In May 2003, Prime Minister Arthur won a third term.
In parliamentary elections in January 2008, the Democratic Labour Party
won 20 out of 30 seats. Former junior finance minister David Thompson took
over as prime minister.
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