Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. Barbados was discovered by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony. In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.
It has a population of 277,821 people, mostly of African descent.
Geography and climate
The country generally experiences two seasons, one of which includes noticeably higher rainfall. Known as the "wet season", this period runs from June to November. By contrast, the "dry season" runs from December to May.
From December to May the average temperatures range from 21 to 31 °C (70 to 88 °F), while between June and November, they range from 23 to 31 °C (73 to 88 °F).
Infrequent natural hazards include earthquakes, landslips, and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the worst effects of the region'stropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season.
Barbados has a population of about 281,968 and a population growth rate of 0.33% (Mid-2005 estimates). It currently ranks as: the fourth most densely populated country in the Americas (18th globally), and the 10th most populated island country in the region.
Close to 90% of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as "Bajan") are of Afro-Caribbean descent ("Afro-Bajans") and mixed-descent. The remainder of the population includes groups of Europeans ("Anglo-Bajans" / "Euro-Bajans") mainly from the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with Asians, mostly Chinese and Indians (both Hindu and Muslim). Other groups in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.
The influence of the English on Barbados is more noticeable than on other islands in the West Indies. A good example of this is the island's national sport: cricket.
The largest carnival-like cultural event that takes place on the island is the Crop Over festival.