Country Profile

Location Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates 13 10º N, 59 32º W
Map references Central America and the Caribbean
Area Total: 430 sq. km Land: 430 sq. km Water: 0 sq. km
Land boundaries 0 km
Coastline 97 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 extremes Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m Highest point: Mount Hillaby 336 m
Natural resources Petroleum, fish, natural gas
Land use Arable land: 27.91% Permanent crops: 2.33% Other: 69.77% (2011)
Irrigated land 54.35 sq. km (2003)
Total renewable water resources 0.08 cu km (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/ agricultural) Total: 0.1 cu km/yr. (20%/26%/54%) Per capita: 371 cu m/yr. (2009)
Natural hazards Infrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands. Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Source: World Fact Book

293,131 (July 2018 est.) country comparison to the world: 180
Age structure 0-14 years: 17.8% (male 26,084 /female 26,090)
15-24 years: 12.53% (male 18,236 /female 18,479)
25-54 years: 43.69% (male 63,829 /female 64,249)
55-64 years: 13.62% (male 18,888 /female 21,043)
65 years and over: 12.36% (male 14,705 /female 21,528)(2018 est.)
Population growth rate 0.26% (2018 est.) country comparison to the world: 176
Net migration rate -0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.) country comparison to the world: 113
Urbanization urban population: 31.1% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 0.2% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Sex ratio at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
Health Expenditures 7.5% of GDP (2014) country comparison to the world: 64
Nationality noun: Barbadian(s) or Bajan (colloquial) adjective: Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)
Ethnic groups black 92.4%, mixed 3.1%, white 2.7%, East Indian 1.3%, other 0.2%, unspecified 0.3% (2010 est.)
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.)
Languages English
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2014 est.)
total population: 99.6% (2014)
male: 99% (2014)
female: 99.6% (2014)
Education expenditures 5.1% of GDP (2016) country comparison to the world: 66

Source: World Fact Book

GDP (purchasing power parity) $5.218 billion (2017 est.)
$5.227 billion (2016 est.)
$5.111 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 178
GDP (official exchange rate) $4.99 billion (2017 est.)
GDP – real growth rate -0.2% (2017 est.)
2.3% (2016 est.)
2.2% (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
GDP – per capita (PPP) $18,600 (2017 est.)
$18,700 (2016 est.)
$18,300 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 95
GDP – composition by sector agriculture: 1.5% (2017 est.)
industry: 9.8% (2017 est.)
services: 88.7% (2017 est.)
Labor force 144,000 (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
Labor force – by occupation Agriculture: 10% Industry: 15% Services: 75% (1996 est.)
Unemployment rate 10.1% (2017 est.)
9.9% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
Population below poverty line NA
Household income or consumption by percentage share Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Investment (gross fixed) 27.4% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 43
Budget revenues: 1.466 billion (2013 est.) (2017 est.)
expenditures: 1.664 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and Other Revenues 29.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
Public debt 157.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
149.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 4.4% (2017 est.)
1.5% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
Central bank discount rate 7% (2017)
7% (31 December 2016)
country comparison to the world: 47
Commercial bank prime lending rate 8.1% (31 December 2017 est.)
8.05% (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
Economic aid – recipient $2.07 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold $264.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$341.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
Debt – external $4.49 billion (2010 est.)
$668 million (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
Market value of publicly traded shares $4.571 billion (31 December 2011) country comparison to the world: 85 $4.366 billion (31 December 2010) $4.39 billion (31 December 2009)
Currency (code) Barbadian dollar (BBD)

Source: World Fact Book

Country Name Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Barbados
 Government Type Parliamentary democracy and 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)
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)
Constitution history: adopted 22 November 1966, effective 30 November 1966 (2018)
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 2010 (2018)
Legal System English common law no judicial review of legislative acts
International law organization participation  Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Executive Branch chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sandra MASON (since 8 January 2018)
head of government: Prime Minister Mia MOTTLEY (since 25 May 2018)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
Legislative Branch description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (21 seats; members appointed by the governor general – 12 on the advice of the Prime Minister, 2 on the advice of the opposition leader, and 7 at the discretion of the governor general)
House of Assembly (30 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)
Senate – last appointments on 5 June 2018 (next appointments NA)
House of Assembly – last held on 24 May 2018 (next to be held in 2023)
election results:
Senate – appointed; composition – men 16, women 5, percent of women 23.8%
House of Assembly – percent of vote by party – BLP 74.6%, DLP 22.6%, other 2.8%; seats by party – BLP 30; composition – men 24, women 6, percent of women 20%; note – total Parliament percent of women 21.6%
note: tradition dictates that the 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 courts: 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 governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister and opposition leader of Parliament; other justices appointed by the governor-general 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 governor-general appointees recommended by the prime minister; justices serve until mandatory retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: Magistrates’ Courts
Political Parties & Leaders Bajan Free Party [Alex MITCHELL]
Barbados Integrity Movement [Neil HOLDER]
Barbados Labor Party or BLP [Mia MOTTLEY]
Democratic Labor Party or DLP [Freundel STUART]
People’s Democratic Congress [Mark ADAMSON]
People’s Empowerment Party or PEP [David COMISSIONG]
Solutions Barbados [Grenville PHILLIPS II]
United Progressive Party or UPP [Lynette EASTMOND]
Political Pressure Groups & Leaders  Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union or BSTU [Mary REDMAN]; Barbados Union of Teachers or BUT [Karen BEST]; Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados or CTUSAB, (includes the BWU, NUPW, BUT, and BSTU) [Leroy TROTMAN]; Barbados Workers Union or BWU [Leroy TROTMAN]; Clement Payne Labor Union [David COMISSIONG]; National Union of Public Workers [Walter MALONEY]

Source: World Fact Book

Barbados is a parliamentary democracy. Executive authority is vested in the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is collectively responsible to the Parliament. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor General as the member of the House of Assembly best able to command the support of the majority of the members. The Prime Minister usually selects a cabinet from his party members in the legislature.The present constitution provides for the separation of powers under the Governor General, Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Public Service.

The Governor General

The country is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Therefore at the helm is the monarchy and acting on its behalf is the Governor General.


This consists of Her Majesty, a Senate and a House of Assembly. The Senate is the Upper nominated House. The Constitution provides for 21 persons. Twelve of these are government senators, appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister, two are the Opposition’s choice and seven are appointed to represent various interest groups. The House of Assembly is the Lower House. There are now 30 members elected for a maximum of five years. Any citizen of Barbados who is 21 years of age or older and resident in Barbados is eligible for election to the House of Assembly.

Executive Powers

Under this area the Constitution lists Her Majesty, the Cabinet, the Leader of the Opposition and the Privy Council and a Director of Public Prosecutions. The Cabinet – this consists of the Prime Minister and not fewer than five other Ministers. Leader of the Opposition – the Governor General appoints as Leader of the Opposition the person who, in his/her judgement, is best able to command the support of a majority of those members of the House who do not support the Government. The Privy Council – members of this body are appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister. According to the provision of the Constitution no person can serve on the body for more than 15 years. The Council advises the Governor General in the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and in the exercise of disciplinary powers over members of the Public and Police Services, who may appeal to the Council in cases of disciplinary actions against them. Director of Public Prosecutions – is a public office free of political interference.

The Judiciary

This is a branch of government free from executive interference and comprises the Magistrate Courts, a High Court and a Court of Appeal.

Public Service

The Services Commission is made up of the Judicial, Legal and Public Service Commissions. These Commissions have executive powers to deal with the appointment, dismissal and discipline of members of the services for which they are respectively responsible. Source: World Fact Book

Indicator # of Countries Surveyed Ranking Area Publication Year Published
Availability of Latest Technologies 138 37th Worldwide Global Competitiveness Report 2016/2017
3rd Latin America/ Caribbean
Economic Freedom 1 180 67th Worldwide Index of Economic Freedom 2019
11th Americas
FDI and Technology Transfer 138 34th Worldwide Global Competitiveness Report 2016/2017
6th Latin America/ Caribbean
Global Competitiveness 138 72nd Worldwide Global Competitiveness Report 2016/2017
7th Latin America/ Caribbean
Human Development Index 2 189 58th Worldwide United Nations Human Development Report 2018
  7th Americas
5th Latin America/ Caribbean
Literacy 177 4th Worldwide United Nations Development Programme Report 2007/2008
Networked Readiness Index 143 39th Worldwide World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2015
2nd Latin America/ Caribbean
Regulation of Securities Exchanges 138 56th Worldwide Global Competitiveness Report 2016/2017
11th Latin America/Caribbean
Soundness of Banks 138 24th Worldwide Global Competitiveness Report 2016/20177
4th Latin America/ Caribbean
Transparency 180 25th Worldwide Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2018
2nd Latin America/ Caribbean

1 This demonstrates the relationship between economic freedom and positive social and economic values.

2 The Human Development Index (HDI) combines a number of indexes: life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment, and GDP per capita for countries worldwide. It is a measurement of a country’s development.

Source: Invest Barbados

Updated: February 19, 2019

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