Barbados Travel Information

Photo The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. Its economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th century. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance.

About 80% of Barbados' population is of African descent, 4% European descent, and 16% mixed. About 70% of Barbadians are Anglican, and the rest mostly Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and Moravian. There also are small Jewish and Muslim communities. Barbados' population growth rate has been very low, less than 1% since the1960s, largely due to family planning efforts and a high emigration rate.

British sailors who landed on Barbados in the 1620s at the site of present-day Holetown on the Caribbean coast found the island uninhabited. As elsewhere in the eastern Caribbean, Arawak Indians may have been annihilated by invading Caribs, who are believed to have subsequently abandoned the island.

Barbados has an independent judiciary composed of magistrate courts, which are statutorily authorized, and a Supreme Court, which is constitutionally mandated. The Supreme Court consists of the high court and the court of appeals, each with four judges. The Chief Justice serves on both the high court and the court of appeals. The court of last resort is the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council in London, whose decisions are binding on all parties. Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition.

Since independence, Barbados has transformed itself from a low-income economy dependent upon sugar production to a middle-income economy based on tourism. The economy went into a deep recession in 1990 after 3 years of steady decline brought on by fundamental macroeconomic imbalances. After a painful readjustment process, the economy began to grow again in 1993. Growth rates averaged between 3%-5% since then until 2001, when the economy contracted 2.8%.

In 1751, George Washington visited Barbados, making what is believed to have been his only trip abroad. The U.S. Government has been represented on Barbados since 1824. From 1956 to 1978, the U.S. operated a naval facility in Barbados.

Important: Travel to Barbados may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Barbados visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: none
Capital city: Bridgetown
Area: 430 sq km
Population: 287,733
Ethnic groups: black 93%, white 3.2%, mixed 2.6%, East Indian 1%, other 0.2%
Languages: English
Religions: Protestant 63.4%
Government: parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Chief of State: Queen ELIZABETH II
Head of Government: Prime Minister Fruendel STUART
GDP: 6.929 billion
GDP per captia: 25,000
Annual growth rate: 0.6%
Inflation: 9.4%
Agriculture: sugarcane, vegetables, cotton
Major industries: tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export
Natural resources: petroleum, fish, natural gas
Location: Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Trade Partners - exports: Trinidad and Tobago 18.9%, France 10.7%, US 9.7%, St. Lucia 8.8%, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 5.4%, Venezuela 4.9%, Antigua and Barbuda 4.5%, St. Kitts and Nevis 4.2%
Trade Partners - imports: Russia 26.6%, Trinidad and Tobago 24.8%, US 18.6%, China 6.1%