Barbados is an island country in the south eastern Caribbean Sea, situated about 100 miles (160 km) east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Roughly triangular in shape, the island measures around 20 miles (32 km) by 15 miles (25 km) at its widest point.
The capital and largest town is Bridgetown, which is also the main seaport.
Palm trees by the ocean.
Barbados is not part of the nearby archipelago of the Lesser Antilles, although it is usually grouped with it. The island is of different geologic formation; it is less mountainous and has less variety in plant and animal life.
The geographic position of the island has profoundly influenced the island’s history and culture and aspects of its economic life.
Inhabited by Kalinago people since the 13th century, and prior to that by other Amerindians, Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown.
It first appeared in a Spanish map in 1511. The Portuguese Empire claimed the island between 1532 and 1536, but later abandoned it in 1620; with their only remnants being an introduction of wild boars for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited, and to replenish their supply of freshwater.
An English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados on 14 May 1625; its men took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.
As a wealthy sugar colony, it became an English centre of the African slave trade until that trade was outlawed in 1807, with final emancipation of slaves in Barbados occurring over a period of years from 1833.
In 1966, it became an independent state and Commonwealth realm with Elizabeth II as its Queen. Because of its long association with Britain, the culture of Barbados is probably more British than is that of any other Caribbean island, though elements of the African culture of the majority population have been prominent.
As the first Caribbean landfall from Europe and Africa, it has functioned as a major link between western Europe (mainly Great Britain), eastern Caribbean territories, and parts of the South American mainland.