430 sq km (166 sq miles).
673.7 per sq km.
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Elliott Belgrave since 2012.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart since 2010.
110-115 volts AC, 50Hz. American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without round grounding pin) are standard.
Fringed by talcum powder-white beaches and azure seas, Barbados fulfils the clichéd image of a tropical Caribbean isle, but peel back the exterior and the island offers far more than a mere beach holiday destination.
Endowed with 113km (70 miles) of beaches, however, first time visitors can be forgiven for heading straight for the sand and surf. Most tourists flock to the island’s legendary Platinum Coast to the west, which is lined with world-class, luxury resorts, spa hotels, sophisticated restaurants and manicured golf courses, all lapped by the limpid Caribbean Sea. The south coast has some of the best beaches while the east coast, pummelled by the Altantic Ocean, is less developed and attracts mainly surfers.
Although Barbados’s interior is unremarkable compared to its Caribbean neighbours, a jeep safari provides the best way to discover crumbling sugar mills, historic plantation houses, traditional churches reminiscent of England and colonial Bridgetown. The capital, and the nearby Garrison site, were granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2012.
Combine this with Barbados’s indelible laid-back vibe, its passion for rum (over 1,500 rum shops dot the island) and calypso-infused festivals, and it’s no wonder people return here time and time again.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of violent crime including armed robbery and sexual assaults.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.
Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.
The local police have advised residents and visitors against wearing visible gold jewellery due to a spate of robberies particularly in Bridgetown and other popular tourist areas.
Warning flags and lifeguards may not be present at all beaches. There may be unexpected currents so you should take care when swimming at all times.
Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually help with this. You must present a valid UK driving licence.
Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps.
Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.
Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.
Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving.
In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.
Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as Barbados dollars.
Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers may drive above the speed limit.