Before you head to this great island nation for some fun in the sun, soak up these Barbados facts! Barbados makes for a perfect island getaway with white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, 3000 hours of sunshine a year, and all the rum you can drink. You may forget your sunscreen, but you won’t forget these amazing Barbados facts.
One of the more surprising Barbados facts, is that while technically the easternmost Caribbean island, Barbados is entirely surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. This location allows for the Atlantic trade winds to continuously blow refreshing air to the island, as well as protecting it from all but the rare hurricane. A popular destination for cruise ships, Barbados also offers high-end luxury resorts, extremely pure and clean tap water, and is in the Top 10 for richest countries in North America! Oh, and is the birthplace of Rihanna, and the grapefruit!
Located 104 miles east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia, Barbados is part of the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies. While only 230 miles from Venezuela, Barbados is part of North America. The Caribbean Sea doesn’t even touch the island despite it being considered part of the region. Barbados is the 10th largest country in the Caribbean at 166 square miles, the island is 21 miles long, and 7 miles wide. The country is only around 1000 miles north of the equator, so, while the temperatures can get pretty high (close to 90 degrees F), they remain constant throughout the year. The average temperature range is between 70-88 degrees year-round.
Barbados has a population of, 277,821.
The capital of Barbados is, Bridgetown with a population of around 110,000.
Bridgetown has an interesting architectural aesthetic, as the buildings are primarily stone. This is because in 1666 a fire destroyed most of the city. The House of Assembly created a special Act that ordered all buildings being constructed to be made from stone.
Starting in the 13th century, Barbados was inhabited by Kalinago (also known as Caribs) people until the end of the 15th century when Spanish explorers happened upon the island. The Spanish claimed the island for the crown, but never settled. Portuguese sailors claimed the island in 1536, but they too left the island. Almost a century later, in 1625, the English ship, the Olive Blossom, made landfall and claimed it for their crown. Two years later, English settlers arrived to live on a permanent basis.
It was the Portuguese that named the island. In 1536, Captain Pedro a Campos, bestowed the name, “Os Barbados”, meaning, “Bearded Ones” because of the fig trees that are found all over the island.
For over 300 years, Barbados was a British colony. In 1967, they became independent. However, they are still part of the British Commonwealth; much like Scotland and Australia.
The national motto is, “Pride and Industry”.
The term for a local or native person from Barbados is “Barbadian”. However, most locals use the term, “Bajan” (pronounced BAY-jun). For business dealings, use the word Barbadian.
The official language is English. However, locals speak an English-Creole dialect that is at times almost incomprehensible to native English speakers. The locals themselves, and their dialect are called, Bajan.
Some fun Barbados facts is about the Bajan dialect. They rarely use the word “very” when describing something, they will just repeat the adjective. For example, the sentence, “The grapefruit juice is very fresh” a Bajan would say, “The grapefruit juice is fresh fresh”. How cute is that!?
The brown pelican is that national bird of Barbados.
The Pride of Barbados (also known as the red bird of paradise) is the national flower.
The mahi-mahi is the national animal.
If you love to dance, then the Crop Over Festival is the place to be! This yearly festival began in 1687 by the slaves on the sugarcane plantations. It was originally a celebration that was held at the end of the sugarcane harvest, now, it is Barbados’ largest national festival. Think of Brazil’s Carnival, but, in the Caribbean. The festival features singing, dancing, climbing a greased pole, drinking competitions, and grand feasts. Crop Over starts in June, and goes until the first Monday in August. The finale is a national holiday called, The Grand Kadooment.
An impressive Barbados facts, over one million tourists visit the island each year. This includes tourists from cruises, and land-based visits. If you love all-inclusive resorts, Barbados has many to choose from. Consider Sandals Royal Barbados for your next holiday.
For those people that are not into cruises, Barbados is the only island in the region that has daily flights to the U.S., England, and Canada.
This Barbados fact is also a law. If you plan on driving, keep in mind that this former British colony drives on the left!
Queen Elizabeth II is the the official head of Barbados.
Barbados was first! The National Heroes Square in Bridgetown used to be called, Trafalgar Square. One of the features of the square is the Statue of Lord Nelson. It was erected in 1813 to commemorate the British Royal Navy’s glorious victory in the Battle of Trafalgar. However, it predates the famous, Nelson’s Column in London, by 27 years!
Just under the sandy surface, is a vibrant and diverse country that is literally brimming with life. The Barbados Fertility Centre is a world leader in fertilization techniques. Their success rates rival or surpass those based in the U.S. or U.K., AND, you’ll end up only paying a third of what you normally would!
Barbados is so cool that the first president of the United States, George Washington, visited the island in 1751.
Barbados Facts to write home about! Barbados’ rank for literacy is #3 in the WORLD at 99.7%. They are tied with countries like, Andorra, Lichtenstein, and Norway.
Historic Bridgetown and Garrison is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is fantastic way to experience British colonial architecture. The site was developed over the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. What sets this apart from Dutch and Spanish sites, is that instead of being built along a grid, the buildings have an urban, serpentine layout.
Good news for the traveler that loves bathrooms, clean drinking water, and electricity! There is access to utilities across the entire island!
Shopping! Barbados offers several, duty-free malls. You can get high-end luxury items, rum, and perfumes. Just to name a few. If you’re wanting to support the locals, you can head over to the Pelican Craft Village just outside of Bridgetown. Not only can you purchase authentic local products, but you can see the craftsmen at work!
The beaches are so amazing, that the people of Barbados incorporated them into their flag! Two ultramarine bands flank a band of gold. The blue represents the ocean and sky, the gold for the sandy beaches. A black trident head is in the center. However, the missing handle is historically significant. You see, the flag was created in 1966, when Barbados became an independent nation, free from Britain. The original colonial badge featured Poseidon’s trident being wielded by Britannia. The broken handle symbolize the break from British rule. This beautiful flag was created by, Grantley W. Prescod, during an open competition to select the new nation’s flag.
Here are some amazing Barbados facts about the Flying Fish! Common to the warm, Bajan waters, they are generally 8-10in long, and resemble a sardine or herring. These little marvels of nature don’t actually “fly”, but as they propel themselves through the water, they aim towards the surface and glide through the air with the help of their oversized pectoral fins. Some fish can glide for distances of 100ft or more, at speeds of 35mph! They even taste great! The national dish is, Flying Fish & Cou Cou. Traditionally, the fish is seasoned with Bajan herbs and spices, and then steamed or fried in a rich gravy. Cou Cou, is a Bajan version of polenta or grits made from cornmeal and okra. Locals typically consume this dish on Fridays or Saturdays, but can be enjoyed at anytime.
To experience some local flavor, check out these Barbados facts about the city of Oistin! A fishing town in southern Barbados it is THE party town for the weekend and THE best place to eat some Flying Fish. Friday night everyone gathers for the fish fry at Oistins Bay Gardens. A wide variety of fish are offered such as: marlin, mahi-mahi, tuna, and of course flying fish. It is all extremely fresh, and cooked before your very eyes. The informal atmosphere is great for a spur-of-the-moment dinner or snack. Just walk up to a vendor, place your order, and you’re good-to-go!
Barbados uses parishes for its administrative divisions, and has 11 in total.
Sugarcane was the backbone of the Barbadian economy until the 1970s and 1980s when it began exploring the manufacturing and tourism sectors. Barbados now enjoys its rank of being #1 in the region for visitor spending.
Rugby and Cricket are extremely popular on the island which is mostly due to it being under British rule for 300 years. In 2007, the island was home to the Cricket World Cup final.
You want Barbados facts about that involves the revolutionary Segway Scooter? Instead of playing the sport of polo on horses, people play it on Segway Scooters. And, the Segway Polo’s 2009 World Champions, The Flyin’ Fish, are from Barbados.
Rum is very much infused into the Bajan culture. While no one is completely sure on the origin of rum, the people of Barbados claim it was their little island that developed the spirit.
The first commercial sugarcane crop on the island was planted in 1640, and, the original settlers made a drink called, “Kill-Devil”, which would later evolve into what we call rum today. If the name didn’t give it away, it was apparently pretty rough stuff to drink. It would take over 100 years to finally create a commercially viable alcohol from sugarcane.
The secret to Barbadian rum is location, location, location! The steady temperatures, tons of sunshine, and cool rains make the growing conditions for sugarcane ideal. However, the soil is what really sets it apart. Due to the limestone and coral, the soil has a very high alkalinity that adds a special taste to the sugar. I’ll drink to those Barbados facts!
If you love rum, you’ll love this Barbados fact. Mount Gay Rum Distillery is the oldest rum distillery in the world. They began producing high-quality rum in 1703, and haven’t stopped since. They offer tours, tastings, mixing sessions, or a traditional Bajan lunch.
Real-time evolution! The Barbados Green Monkey is common on the island. The monkeys originally came from Gambia and Senegal in West Africa when the slave trade was active. Over 350 years (75 generations), the monkeys on the island developed characteristics that are unique when compared to their cousins in Africa. They are extremely curious animals, but they should not be approached as they can bite. Enjoy them from a distance as they clamor about in the foliage and gardens.
Sometimes a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink is needed. A traditional Bajan drink is a, Mauby. It’s made from the bark of the Mauby tree that is then boiled with cinnamon nutmeg, orange peel, cloves, and sweetened. The taste is somewhat bitter, so isn’t for everyone. Give it a try, or add it to some rum. Regardless, you’ll look like a local!
CNN Travel’s Top 100 Beaches in 2017 ranked, Bottom Bay, at #91 due to the lack of overdeveloped properties, and the high coral cliffs that make this spot a secluded slice of paradise. But Barbados’ top ranked beach, Crane Beach, comes in at #23! Accessible via staircase or elevator from The Crane Resort, it is the perfect place to boogie board along the pink sand shore.
Beach experiences vary depending on which side of the island you’re on. On the east coast, the coastline is more rugged, and while more secluded, the water is rougher as a result. The western side of the island is home to gentler waters and currents.
World-class SCUBA is available all year. There are a large variety of options, from the experienced underwater cave exploration, to the beginner dives among shipwrecks and sea turtles.
Go to the Arawak Cement Factor Pier for a chance to experience a Bioluminescent Night Dive!
One of the more impressive Barbados facts: Barbados has 56 miles of coral reefs along its coastline!
Turtles! Four species of nesting turtles call Barbados their home. The hawksbill, leatherbacks, loggerheads, and green turtles!
Bathsheba Beach is said to have healing powers. Situated on Barbados’ east coast, the rugged beach has giant boulders of ancient coral reefs that dot the shoreline. The water isn’t ideal for swimming due to the rough waters and strong riptide. However, feel free to soak up the sun on the warm sandy beach, avoid the crowds, and sip a drink from a local rum shop.
Rum Shops can be found in all corners of the island. The number varies by source, but, there are between 1,000 – 12,000 Rum Shops on the island. Their function varies as some offer groceries and provisions, while other shops serve as a meeting place for locals to relax and have fun. Inside you’ll of course…find rum, but you’ll also have access to traditional Bajan comfort food. Dishes like fish cutters, rice and peas, pudding and souse, or Jug Jug (a Bajan version of the Scottish Haggis).
Queen’s Park in Bridgetown is the home to a giant baobab tree. It’s estimated to be over one thousand years old, and may be the largest tree in the Caribbean. It would take 15 of your closest friends to wrap their arms completely around the trunk!
If variety is the spice of life, then these Barbados facts are the spiciest! Barbados has the highest visitor return rate, and it is easy to see why; with tons of sun, friendly locals, turquoise water, white sand beaches, European-Caribbean cuisine, lively calypso music, diverse wildlife, and your pick of thousands of rum shops. Barbados is the perfect place to get away to a place that feels like home.
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