BARBADIAN Facts & Figures

Size: 166 square miles

Population: 284,589

Capital: Bridgetown

Currency: Barbadian Dollar

Weather / Climate:

The country is generally split into a period of two seasons one of which includes noticeably higher rainfall. Known as the "wet season", this period runs from June–November, In contrast, the "dry season" runs December–May. The annual precipitation ranges between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 90 inches (2,300 mm). From December–May the average temperatures range from 21 to 31 °C (70 to 88 °F), while between June–November, they range from 23 to 31 °C (73 to 88 °F).[32]

On the Köppen climate classification scale, much of Barbados is regarded as a Tropical monsoon climate (Am). However, gentle breezes of 12–16 kilometres per hour (8–10 mph) abound throughout the year and give Barbados a warm climate which is moderately tropical.

Infrequent natural hazards include: earthquakes, landslips, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the worst effects of the region's tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season. The far eastern location in the Atlantic Ocean puts the country just outside the principal hurricane strike zone. On average, a major hurricane strikes about once every 26 years. The last significant hit from a hurricane to cause severe damage to Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955.

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BARBADIAN languages

English is the root official language of Barbados, and is used for communications, administration, and public services all over the island. In its capacity as the official language of the country, the standard of English tends to conform to the vocabulary, pronunciations, spellings, and conventions akin to, but not exactly the same as, those of British English. A regional variant of English, referred to locally as Bajan, is spoken by most Barbadians in everyday life, especially in informal settings. In its full-fledged form, Bajan sounds markedly different from the Standard English heard on the island.

The degree of intelligibility between Bajan and general English changes depending on the speakers' origins and the "rawness" of one's accent. In rare instances, a Bajan speaker may be completely unintelligible to an outside English speaker if sufficient slang terminology is present in a sentence. Bajan is somewhat differentiated from, but highly influenced by other Caribbean English dialects; it is a fusion of British English and elements borrowed from the languages of West Africa. Hindi and Bhojpuri are also spoken on the island by a small Indo-Bajan minority. Spanish is considered the most popular second language on the island, followed by French.[citation

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Barbados has a population of about 281,968 and a population growth rate of 0.33% (Mid-2005 estimates). It currently ranks as: the 4th most densely populated country in the Americas (18th globally), and the 10th most populated island country in the region, (101st globally). Close to 90% of all Barbadians (also known colloquially as Bajan) are of African descent ("Afro-Bajans") and mixed-descent. The remainder of the population includes groups of Europeans ("Anglo-Bajans" / "Euro-Bajans") mainly from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Chinese, Bajan Muslims from India. Other groups in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. Barbadians who return after years of residence in the U.S. and children born in America to Bajan parents are called "Bajan Yankees"[citation needed], this term is considered derogatory by some. Generally, Bajans recognize and accept all 'children-of-the-island' as Bajans, and refer to each other as such.

The biggest communities outside the Afro-Caribbean community are:

  1. The Indo-Guyanese, an important part of the economy due to the increase of immigrants from partner country Guyana. There are reports of a growing Indo-Bajan diaspora originating from Guyana and India. They introduced roti and other Indian dishes to Barbados' culture. Mostly from southern India and Hindu states, they are growing in size but smaller than the equivalent communities in Trinidad & Guyana.
  2. Euro-Bajans (4% of the population)[1] have settled in Barbados since the 16th century, originating from England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1643, there were 37,200 whites in Barbados (86% of the population).[39] More commonly they are known as "White Bajans". Euro-Bajans introduced folk music, such as Irish music and Highland music, and certain place names, such as "Scotland", a mountainous region. Among White Barbadians there exists an underclass known as Redlegs; the descendants of indentured servants, and prisoners imported to the island.[40] Many additionally moved on to become the earliest settlers of modern-day North and South Carolina in the United States.
  3. Chinese are a minute portion of Barbados' Asian demographics, far smaller than the equivalent communities of Jamaica and Trinidad. Most if not all first arrived in the 1940s during the Second World War, originating mainly from the then British territory of Hong Kong. Many Chinese-Bajans have the surnames Chin, Chynn or Lee, although other surnames prevail in certain areas of the island.[citation needed]
  4. Lebanese and Syrians form the Arab community on the island and the Muslim minority among them make up a small percentage of the Muslim population. The majority of the Lebanese and Syrians arrived in Barbados due to trade opportunities. Although in the numbers are dwindling due to emigration and immigration to other countries.
  5. Jewish people arrived in Barbados just after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is the home of the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Americas, dating from 1654, though the current structure was erected in 1833 replacing one ruined by the hurricane of 1831. Tombstones in the neighboring cemetery date from the 1630s. Now under the care of the Barbados National Trust the site was deserted in 1929, but was subsequently saved and restored by the Jewish community in 1983.
  6. Indians from Gujarat in India make up majority of the Muslim population. Muslim-Indian Barbadians are often perceived to be the most successful group in business, along with the Chinese Bajans.[citation needed]

The average life expectancy is 77 years for both males and females.[citation needed] Barbados and Japan have the distinction of having highest number of centenarians (on a per capita basis) in the world.

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One of the delights of visiting Barbados is that it gives you the chance to experience delicious Bajan food. And it is an experience because local food is made with a variety of ingredients, most of which will be familiar to you, but are enhanced with local herbs and spices to create a distinct Bajan flavour.

The local dish which is synonymous with Barbados is flying fish and cou cou, traditionally served on Fridays. The skillfully boned flying fish is rolled and stewed down in gravy made with herbs, tomatoes, garlic, onions and butter. Cou cou is similar to polenta, made with yellow corn meal but cooked with finely chopped okras, water and butter. Cou cou can also be made with breadfruit and green bananas and is served with salt fish or beef stew.

Another popular Bajan dish is fish cakes which are made with salted cod imported from the maritime provinces of Canada. The importation of salted fish and meat goes back to the colonial days when these foods, which could be stored for months, were seen as a cheap source of protein. Fish cakes are made with salted cod, flour, herbs and pepper and are served in rustic rum shops and elegant cocktail parties alike. As health conscious as everyone is trying to be, a dish of freshly fried hot fish cakes passed around at a gathering with some pepper sauce or sauce marie rose, goes like smoke in the wind.

A wide variety of fresh fish is available in Barbados like barracuda, king fish (wahoo), snapper, bill fish, chubb, yellow fin tuna and dolphin. Some visitors are mistakenly horrified to see dolphin on local menus not realizing that it is the fish also called mahi mahi or dorado and not any relation or similarity to the porpoise. Dolphins, the mammals, seldom seen in our waters, are revered and never caught.

The most common way to cook fish is to season it with Bajan seasoning, coat it with egg, then dust it in fine breadcrumbs and fry it in hot oil. Bajan seasoning is a blend of fresh herbs such as thyme, marjoram, spring onions, onions, garlic, parsley, basil and scotch bonnet pepper with spices such as clove, black pepper, paprika and salt. A popular lunch is a fish cutter which is fried flying fish or a fillet of fish sandwiched between a Bajan salt bread.

Whether a roast pork with diamonds of crackling, a baked ham, stewed down pork chops or Bajan pudding and souse, the quality of Barbadian pork is especially delicious. In keeping with this love of pork, pigs have been reared domestically in Barbados for years and are considered an important supplement to household income.

A local delicacy is black and white pudding made with sweet potato and herbs served along with soused pigs head and trotters. There are many people throughout the island that make and sell pudding and souse every Saturday, starting work at 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning in order to be ready for the lunch-time rush.

Whereas the diet of most cultures tends to focus on one staple, the starch served with a meal in Barbados varies widely; sweet potato, yam, breadfruit, eddo, green banana, bakes, cassava, rice, cou cou, pasta or potato. Rice is more often than not cooked with some kind of pulse such as pigeon peas, black eye peas or split peas. Breadfruit, a large green football sized fruit, has a similar taste and texture of a potato with a subtle difference that makes it an interesting alternative to the more pedestrian potato. It is served lathered in a tomato and onion, butter sauce or a fresh cucumber and lime souse, mashed or as crisp, wafer thin chips.

The ground provisions are made into all kinds of delicious recipes such as yam pie and candied sweet potato. Bajan sweet potatoes are starchy and quite unlike the waxy orange variety usually seen in American supermarkets. One of the most popular starches with a meal is actually macaroni and cheese, referred to simply as "pie".

Chicken usually heads up every Bajan's shopping list. On Sundays it is stuffed with a fresh herb stuffing made with the local Eclipse crackers and baked whole. It is also stewed, barbequed, stuffed with Bajan seasoning and fried, cooked with rice to make pelau, curried, boiled into a delicious soup
with vegetables and the list goes on.

A wide variety of vegetables are available in Barbados from the local markets, the most popular of which is located downtown Bridgetown and is a hive of activity on a Saturday morning. Bajans serve vegetables in a variety of ways. For example pumpkin, which is a similar to American squash, is served boiled or made into fritters sprinkled with sugar and spice. Plantain, a member of the banana family but quite unpalatable uncooked, is served fried or wrapped in bacon and baked. Okra, famous for its role in southern American gumbo, is served sprinkled with a little fresh lime juice. Asparagus is grown in Barbados and is eaten sautéed with a little butter and lime juice. Christophene, a sugarless member of the melon family, is another unusual and popular vegetable which is often served with a cheese sauce. Cucumber is dressed with lime juice, salt, onion and a little hot pepper.

Bajans have quite a sweet tooth. Local candies include guava cheese, tamarind balls, peanut brittle and chocolate fudge. The most common traditional Bajan dessert is Coconut Bread. For fancier occasions, lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, chocolate icebox pudding, good old chocolate cake and Bajan baked custard are some of the local favourites.

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Places to go in BARBADOS



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