Information, Accommodation & Attractions in Barbados
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About Barbados

 

> Brief History

A hybrid of Africa and England set in the tropics, Barbados combines British institutions, architecture, and style with open, African-style hospitality. Nowhere in the world have African and British cultures combined in such a remarkable synthesis.

It was nicknamed "Bimshire" or "Little England" because its land--reforested with green and yellow slopes of sugarcane fields--somewhat resembled the green hills of England. The English influence can still be felt in such things as the daily tea and the national sport, cricket.

Barbados is the easternmost Caribbean island. The island's shape resembles a lopsided pear with its stem end pointing north. All of 21 miles (34km) long, Barbados offers a variety of terrain compacted into one small area. In addition to a wide choice of beaches, there are fantastic panoramas, densely foliated tropical gullies, and breathtaking stretches of craggy coast.

For such a small island, there's an enormous amount to see. In few places in the world are people as receptive and accepting of strangers. The island's great houses, old churches, and forts bring history to life. The capital is Bridgetown, the island's major commercial center with a population of about 80,000.

The island was discovered by Portuguese explorer Pedro a Campos in 1536 when the island was inhabited by Arawak Indians. The Arawaks had disappeared by the time the British arrived in 1625.

Named after King James I, Jamestown (modern-day Holetown) was settled by 80 British settlers in 1627. The economy centered around cotton, tobacco, and sugar with plantations worked by African slaves, the direct descendents of today's Barbadians (or Bajans, as they are popularly called).

Barbados dominated the Caribbean sugar industry in the mid- to late-17th century. By 1720, however, sugar growing fell behind production in Jamaica and the Leeward Islands. Colonial visitors were drawn to the island because of its climate and leisurely pace of life. For instance, a young Major, George Washington, visited Barbados with his half brother, who suffered from tuberculosis, in hope of healing his illness.

After an extended period of rebellion, slavery was abolished in 1834. Barbados remained a British colony until 1961, when internal autonomy was granted. The island gained its full independence in 1966. It maintains ties to the Britain monarch, who is represented in Barbados by the governor general.

Barbados is a member of the Commonwealth. The first leader of the country as a free nation was Errol Barrow, of the Democratic Labour Party. In 1984, the National Democratic Party was formed.

Today Barbados retains its British character and celebrated its 350th anniversary of parliamentary government in 1989.

> General Information


Apparel:

Swimwear is excellent for the beach, however, it is not considered proper apparel for shopping or dinning. General attire for dinning out in the evening is casual but elegant, walking shorts are acceptable in most restaurants (some exceptions in upper scale dinning establishments).

ATMs:

Several on South Coast, West Coast and Bridgetown
Only one on the East Coast (in Belleplaine, St. Andrew)

General Business Hours:

Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday 8:30 am - 1:00/2:00 pm
Sunday Closed

Currency:

Barbados Currency is dollars.

US $1.00 = BDS $1.98

Electricity

110 Volts AC 50 cycle

Geography:

Length: 34 km (21 miles)
Width: 22 km (14 miles)
Area: 425 square km (166 square miles)

Barbados is divided into 11 parishes.

West Coast:
Caribbean Sea (calm ideal for swimming)

East Coast:

Atlantic Ocean (rough - swimming not recommended)

South and South-East Coast:
Ideal for swimming as well, with South-East Coast having larger waves.

Safety:

The crime rate in Barbados is very low, however, simple precautions should always be taken.

  • Please stay in well-lit, familiar areas at night
  • Do not leave valuables unattended
  • Lock your doors
  • Do not swim on the East Coast
  • Time:

    Winter: GMT minus 4 hours
    Summer: GMT minus 5 hours


    Banking Information:

    General Banking Hours:
    Monday to Thursday 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
    Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Saturday 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
    Sunday Closed

    Major Banks:

    Barbados National Bank
    First Caribbean
    Royal Bank of Canada
    The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
    Bank of Butterfield

    Capital:

    Bridgetown located in the parish of St. Michael.

    Climate:

    Temperature: 24 to 33 degrees (74 to 83 Fahrenheit) approximately
    Rainy Season: June to November

    Emergency Phone Numbers:

    Police 211
    Fire 311
    Ambulance 511

    Government:

    Barbados is Independent, with a Prime Minister.
    Barbados is also a member of the Commonwealth, with a Governor General.

    Language:

    Official Language: English

    However, Bajan dialect is commonly spoken.

    Population:

    Population: 266,000 approximately

    Taxes:

    Stores and Restaurants 15% VAT tax
    Hotels 7.5% VAT tax

    There are several tax-free shopping areas throughout the island, particularly in Bridgetown.

    Telecommunication:

    Pay Phones
    Internet Cafes
    Cellular Phone Rental

     


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