Barbados is an island nation of the Lesser Antilles.
It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic Ocean and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea.
Once a Portuguese territorial possession known as Los Barbados, in 1625 it became an English, and later a British, colony.
In 1966, Barbados became an independent nation and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Barbados is one of the Caribbean's leading tourist destinations and is the most developed island in the region.The reason for the later name Barbados is controversial. The Portuguese, en route to Brazil, were the first Europeans to come upon the island, and they named it Barbados. The word Barbados means "bearded ones", but it is a matter of conjecture whether "bearded" refers to the long, hanging roots of the bearded fig-tree, indigenous to the island.
Barbados has been an independent country since 30 November 1966. It functions as a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modelled on the British Westminster system.
Barbados functions as a two-party system, the two dominant parties being the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the opposition, Barbados Labour Party.
Laws are passed by the Barbadian Parliament, whereby upon their passage, are given official vice-regal assent by the Governor-General to become law.
In Barbados, camouflage clothing is reserved for military use and forbidden for civilians to wear.
Trade policy has also sought to protect a small number of domestic activities, mostly food production, from foreign competition, while recognizing that most domestic needs are best met by imports.
The climate is moderate tropical, with a wet season (June–November) and a more dry season (December–May).
Barbados is divided into eleven parishes.
Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross domestic product) per capita, has a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is classified as being in its 66 top High income economies of the world.
The island of Barbados's lone airport is the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) It receives daily flights by several major airlines from points around the globe, as well as several smaller regional commercial airlines and charters.
Due to its relatively high levels of development and its favourable location, Barbados has become one of the prime tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Numerous internationally known hotels offering world-class accommodation can be found on the island. Time-shares are available, and many of the smaller local hotels and private villas which dot the island have space available if booked in advance. The southern and western coasts of Barbados are popular, with the calm light blue Caribbean Sea and their fine white and pinkish sandy beaches. Along the island's east coast, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, there are tumbling waves which are perfect for light surfing. Some areas remain risky due to under-tow currents.
Shopping districts are popular in Barbados, with ample duty-free shopping. There is also a festive night-life in mainly tourist areas such as the Saint Lawrence Gap. Other attractions include wildlife reserves, jewelry stores, scuba diving, helicopter rides, golf, festivals (the largest being the annual Crop Over festival July/Aug), sightseeing, cave exploration, exotic drinks and fine clothes shopping.
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.