Vibrant and colourful as much as it is unique, Barbados distills its distinct blend of West African and Caribbean culture together with its elegant heritage.
Barbados is the most easterly island of the Caribbean island chain. The closest islands are St. Vincent & the Grenadines and St. Lucia which are located to the west and Trinidad and Tobago located to the south. The island is 430 sq. km (166 sq. miles), measures 33.79km (21 miles) long by 22.53km (14 miles) wide and is divided into eleven parishes.
Barbados was first inhabited by the Arawak Indians who migrated from Venezuela. It is believed that they inhabited the island from 350-400 BC. When the British arrived in 1625 they found the island uninhabited and they claimed it in the name of King James I. Two years later on 17th February, 1627 the first settlement landed on the West coast of the island near what is now Holetown (Formerly Jamestown).
The capital city, Bridgetown, is located in St. Michael. Historic Bridgetown and the Garrison areas were designated a World Heritage Site in June 2011. Bridgetown was established in 1628, as the capital and commercial center of Barbados. Bridgetown was originally named “Indian Bridge” for the crude bridge which has been constructed over the river (now known as the Careenage) by the Indians. The Barbados Garrison is an 18th century British garrison. The Garrison Consortium was instrumental in achieving this international World Heritage status and continues to work tirelessly, in developing the area into one of the region’s foremost heritage sites.
Bounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Barbados enjoys north-east trade winds all year which help to keep the island cool. The climate is warm throughout the year, with a dry season from December to May, and a rainy season between June and November. There are many key historical sites in Barbados, including:
Harrison’s Cave is one of the most famous natural history sites in Barbados, the 3 mile long cave is home to some of the most beautiful rock formations in the western hemisphere and is also a true glimpse into the very formation of Barbados.
Codrington College was founded in 1702 and is the oldest Seminary in the Western Hemisphere. Originally a plantation house, the college was later bequeathed to a religious society that transformed the house and grounds into a seminary. This was the first institution for higher learning in Barbados.
The Gun Hill Signal Station is an 1818 signal station which was used by the British Army. The iconic symbol of the site is a white lion; a symbol of British rule on the island was crafted by a soldier.
Barbados has been a sovereign independent state within the Commonwealth since 1966 when full independence was gained from Britain. However, ties to the British monarchy are still maintained through the Governor-General.
The government of Barbados is a parliamentary democracy where the political party with the greatest representation in parliament forms the government. The leader of government is the Prime Minister, who selects a cabinet from party members in the legislature. The Parliament Buildings of Barbados was established in 1639 and is the third oldest Parliament in the entire Commonwealth.
Drawing on its English, African and West Indian roots, Barbados has established its, distinctive identity, evidenced in its customs, traditions and values and passionately expressed through the rich history, exceptional cuisine and artistic talents of its people.