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(bärbā`dōz), island state (2015 est. pop. 284,000), 166 sq mi (430 sq km), in the West Indies. The capital and largest city is BridgetownBridgetown,
city (1990 pop. 5,928), capital, commercial center, and chief port of Barbados, West Indies. It is, in addition, a tourist and health resort. Sugar, rum, and molasses are the leading exports, and Bridgetown also serves as an important financial center and
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Land, People, and Economy

The island, E of St. Vincent, in the Windward Islands, is the easternmost of the Caribbean islands. It is low and rises gradually toward its highest point at Mt. Hillaby (1,104 ft/336 m). Although there is ample rainfall from June to December, there are no rivers, and water must be pumped from subterranean caverns. About 90% of the population is of African descent, 4% are of European descent, and about 6% are of Asian or mixed descent. English-speaking, the majority of Barbadians are Protestant.

The porous soil and moderate warmth are excellent for the cultivation of sugarcane, which was historically the island's main occupation. Today, sugar and molasses remain important products and are the country's largest exports. The healthful and equable climate makes it a very popular tourist resort, and tourism is the country's largest industry. Manufacturing (largely chemicals, electrical components, clothing, and rum) and banking are growing sectors of the economy. The United States, other Caribbean islands, and Great Britain are the main trading partners.


Although it was probably originally inhabited by Arawaks, it was uninhabited when the English expeditionaries first settled there in 1627 (1605, according to local tradition). Barbados remained a British colony until independence was granted in 1966. During the 19th cent. it was the administrative headquarters of the Windward Islands, but in 1885 it became a separate colony. It later was a member of the short-lived West Indies FederationWest Indies Federation,
former federation of 10 British West Indian territories formed in 1958. Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados were the principal members, but the federation included most of the Leeward and Windward islands, then under British control.
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 (1958–62). The island became an independent associated state of the Commonwealth of NationsCommonwealth of Nations,
voluntary association of Great Britain and its dependencies, certain former British dependencies that are now sovereign states and their dependencies, and the associated states (states with full internal government but whose external relations are
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 in 1966. The bicameral parliament consists of a 17-member Senate appointed by the governor-general and a 17-member elected House of Representatives. The Democratic Labor party (DLP) held power from 1986 until 1994, when the Barbados Labor party (BLP) won a legislative majority; Owen ArthurArthur, Owen Seymour,
1949–2020, Barbadian political leader. An economist, he worked for the Jamaican national planning agency in the 1970s and the Barbados ministry of finance and planning in the 1980s.
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 became prime minister. Arthur and the BLP retained power after the 1999 and 2003 elections. In 2008 the DLP defeated the BLP, and David Thompson became prime minister. Thompson died in 2010 and was succeeded as prime minister by Freundel Stuart. The DLP and Stuart remained in power after the 2013 elections. In 2018 the BLP swept every seat, and BLP leader Mia Mottley became prime minister.


See K. R. Hope, Economic Development in the Caribbean (1986); H. Beckles, A History of Barbados (1990).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a state in the West Indies, on the island of Barbados in the Lesser Antilles. Area, 430 sq km. Population, 253,000 (1968 estimate), primarily Negroes. Religion, predominantly Christian (Anglican Church). Official calendar, Gregorian. State language, English. Capital and main port, Bridgetown (population, 94,000 including suburbs in 1967).

Constitution and government. Barbados is a dominion in the British Commonwealth. The present constitution was adopted in 1966. The chief of state of Barbados is the English king (queen), represented on Barbados by a governor-general whom he appoints. The governor-general heads the Privy Council, a consultative body composed of 11 people (including the prime minister) appointed by the governor-general. Legislative power belongs to the parliament, which consists of two chambers: the House of Assembly (24 deputies elected by the people for five years) and the Senate (21 senators, the majority of whom are appointed by the governor-general). The governor-general is also a member of parliament. All citizens at least 18 years of age have the right to vote. The government of Barbados is a cabinet of ministers headed by a prime minister.


Natural features. The island is surrounded by coral reefs. It is made up primarily of Miocene limestones (petroliferous in some places). The surface of the land rises in terraces toward the center of the island, reaching an elevation of 340 m. Karst is developed. There is little surface water; groundwaters lie deep. The climate is tropical, with trade winds. The average temperature in September, the warmest month, is 27° C; the average temperature in February, the coolest month, is 25° C. Precipitation is 1,400 mm per year. The northeast trade wind, which is characteristic of Barbados’ climate, blows about eight months a year and moderates the heat. Hurricanes are frequent. There are fertile, brown-red lateritic soils and tropical vegetation in Barbados.

History. Before the coming of the Europeans, Barbados was settled by the Arawak and Carib Indian tribes. The Spanish, who reached the island’s shores in 1518, gave it the name Barbados (from Spanish barbado—bearded because of the abundance on the island of fig trees entwined with epiphytes resembling beards). In the years that followed, the Spanish exported Indians to Haiti as slaves. The English came to the island in 1605. They founded their own colony on Barbados in 1625 and began to establish tobacco plantations. In 1628 the English founded Bridgetown. In the 1630’s sugarcane was brought to Barbados from Brazil. With the development of sugarcane plantations on the island, slaves were brought from Africa. In 1640 the population of Barbados consisted of 37,000 Europeans and 6,000 Negroes; by 1786 the number of Europeans had decreased to 15,000, but the Negro population had risen to 62,000. Anti-British uprisings broke out repeatedly on Barbados; they were suppressed by troops. Slavery was abolished on Barbados in 1838. In 1876 there were armed uprisings aimed at the creation of a federation of five islands; however, the uprisings were not successful.

A national liberation movement began to develop in the 1930’s during the world economic crisis and the deterioration in the economic situation of Barbados. The most important uprising took place in 1937. The first political organizations (which later became official parties) arose on Barbados after World War II (1939–45). They demanded that the island be granted political independence. Universal suffrage was introduced in 1950. From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was part of the West Indies Federation, which was created by Great Britain in order to check the growth of the national liberation movement. In 1961, Barbados gained internal self-government. On Nov. 3, 1966, elections to the House of Assembly were held on Barbados. The Democratic Labour Party (founded in 1951) won the elections. On Nov. 30,1966, Barbados was granted independence within the Commonwealth. In December 1966, Barbados was admitted to the United Nations. The government of Barbados supports the development of relations with all countries.


Economy. Barbados is an agrarian country whose economy depends on the capital of Great Britain, the USA, and Canada. The government has been carrying out various measures aimed at liquidating the colonialist legacy in the economy.

Over 70 percent of the island’s land is used for agriculture. There are 29,000 hectares (ha) of cultivated land and 7,700 ha of pasture. The chief agricultural crop is sugarcane (21,000 ha; yield, 1.5 million tons in 1967–68). The main crops grown for consumption are sweet potatoes, yams (total area 2,000 ha; yield, 20,000 tons in 1967), and cassava. Orchard farming has been developed (mangoes, avocados, citrus fruits, guava, and others). The country’s livestock are primarily sheep (41,000 head in 1966–67), goats (19,000), and pigs (28,000). Dairy cattle are raised (17,000 head). There is fishing in Barbados (flying fish, tuna, and others). The catch is about 2,000 tons per year.

Barbados’ main industry is the sugar industry (20 plants producing sugar and molasses and three plants producing rum; 209,000 tons of sugar produced in 1967). Construction materials are produced. A small amount of gas is extracted. Substantial profits are made on foreign tourism (68,400 tourists in 1965; income, 27 million East Caribbean dollars). There are about 1,000 km of highways in Barbados.

Sugar (over half of Barbados’ exports), molasses, and rum are exported; machinery, means of transportation, foodstuffs, and fuel are imported. The island’s main trading partners (1967, in percent) are Great Britain (40.9 exports and 28.6 imports), the USA (15.1 and 19.5), and Canada (6.7 and 12.5). The monetary unit is the East Caribbean dollar, which is equal to US $0.50 (November 1969).

Medicine and public health. The birthrate in Barbados was 26.1 per 1,000 in 1965 (31.7 in 1957); the mortality rate was 8.8 in 1967 (10.5 in 1955–59); and infant mortality was 39.5 per 1,000 live births in 1965 (152 in 1945–49). The main problems of public health are the struggle against tuberculosis and diseases connected with vitamin deficiencies and protein deficiency. The main causes of death in 1965 were vascular diseases of the central nervous system, malignant tumors, heart disease, and pneumonia. Ancylostomiasis is widespread in coastal regions. Malaria was liquidated by 1968. Mosquitoes, the carriers of yellow fever, are a potential danger for the population of Barbados. Public health work is controlled by the director of medical services, who is under the jurisdiction of the Public Health Department, and by local government bodies. In 1964 there were 94 doctors working in Barbados (one doctor for every 2,600 people), including 71 in state service, and ten hospitals with 1,400 beds (5.9 beds per 1,000 of population. In 1964 there were six state hospitals (1,300 beds) and four private hospitals in Barbados.


Education. The system of public education in Barbados is similar to that of England. The six-year elementary schools include school for small children (two years of instruction; children at least five years old are accepted) and elementary school proper (four years). There are five-year secondary schools. The completion of a two- to three-year supplementary advanced secondary school program is required for admission to the university. Elementary education is not compulsory; however, almost all children attend elementary school. Education is free in state elementary and secondary schools. Instruction is in English. During the 1964–65 school year there were 39,100 students in elementary schools and 15,400 students in secondary schools. Vocational schools are essentially based on the elementary school; during the 1964–65 school year they had 769 students.

In 1963 the College of Arts and Sciences was opened in Bridgetown (305 students during the 1966–67 school year.) It is a part of the University of the West Indies (founded 1948), which is located on the islands of Trinidad and Jamaica. The Public Library (about 100,000 volumes), university library (over 14,000 volumes), and a museum with a scientific historical society are located in Bridgetown.


Literature and art. Characteristic features of the folk works of West Africa have survived in the folklore of Barbados. Written literature (in English) began to develop only in the 1940’s under the influence of the upsurge in the national liberation struggle. Poetry was the first literary form to be developed. West Indian themes are important in the works of the poets H. A. Vohan, F. E. Collymore, P. Blackman, and J. Drayton. Blackman and others have participated in the struggle against colonialism and the peace movement. Many works by short story writers (K. Sealy, E. Wallcott, K. M. Hope, and others) describe the difficult life of the workers of Barbados. The limited book market has caused many writers to leave Barbados, but their works continue to be related to their homeland. J. Lamming lives in England; his novels, which include In the Castle of My Skin (1953) and A Time to Risk (1960), are devoted to the national liberation struggle of the West Indies states. The novels of O. Clarke, who has been living in Canada since 1956 (Survivors of the Strike, 1964; Among the Thorns and Thistles, 1965), speak of the poor people of Barbados; The Meeting Place (1967) describes the immigrants to Canada. The publication of the journal Bim since 1950 has been an important factor in the literary life of Barbados and has influenced all of West Indian literature. (Bim is published twice a year.)


Traces of ancient Indian culture—Arawak ceramic and stone articles made by the Caribs—have been preserved in Barbados. There are many 18th-century buildings in Bridgetown, including the Government House (early 18th century), the so-calledG. Washington House (1751), and the Cathedral of St. Michael (after 1780). The ministry buildings, port structures, and hotels were built in contemporary style in the mid-20th century.


In Russian translation:
In Vremia plameneiushchikh derev’ev. Moscow, 1961.


Gal’perina, E. “Buri i shtili Karibskogo moria.” Voprosy literatury, 1963, no. 10.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Barbados

Capital city: Bridgetown

Internet country code: .bb

Flag description: Three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), gold, and blue with the head of a black trident cen­tered on the gold band; the trident head represents inde­pendence and a break with the past (the colonial coat of arms contained a complete trident)

National anthem: “We loyal sons and daughters all” (first line of chorus), lyrics by Irving Burgie, music by C. Van Roland Edwards

National flower: Pride of Barbados (Dwarf Poinciana or Flower Fence; Poinciana pulcherrima linnaeus)

Geographical description: Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela

Total area: 166 sq. mi. (431 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; rainy season (June to October)

Nationality: noun: Barbadian(s) or, informally, Bajan(s); adjective: Barbadian; informally, Bajan

Population: 280,946 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Black African 90%, white European 4%, Asian and or mixed 6%

Languages spoken: English

Religions: Anglican 40%, Pentecostal 8%, Methodist 7%, other Protestant 12%, Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Emancipation DayAug 1
Errol Barrow DayJan 21
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Independence DayNov 30
Labour DayMay 1
National Heroes DayApr 28
New Year's DayJan 1
Whit MondayJun 13, 2011; May 28, 2012; May 20, 2013; Jun 9, 2014; May 25, 2015; May 16, 2016; Jun 5, 2017; May 21, 2018; Jun 10, 2019; Jun 1, 2020; May 24, 2021; Jun 6, 2022; May 29, 2023
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


an island in the Caribbean, in the E Lesser Antilles: a British colony from 1628 to 1966, now an independent state within the Commonwealth. Language: English. Currency: Barbados dollar. Capital: Bridgetown. Pop.: 271 000 (2004 est.). Area: 430 sq. km (166 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005