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Geography, climate and population
Barbados is an independent island nation located at 13º10’N latitude and 59º30’W longitude. The country has a total land area of 430 km2 and a length of 34 km from north to south and 23 km from east to west. It is the most easterly of the Eastern Caribbean islands, located about 150 km east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The country is administratively divided into 11 parishes (Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas) and 1 city Bridgetown, which is the capital of the country.
In 2012, the total physical cultivated area was estimated at 12 000 ha, of which 92 percent (11 000 ha) consisted of temporary crops and 8 percent (1 000 ha) of permanent crops. Permanent meadows and pasture cover 2 000 ha, which brings to total agricultural area to 14 000 ha (Table 1).
The island is divided into two distinct geological regions: about 85 percent of the island is coralline in nature, with the remaining 15 percent being shale, sand and clay known as the Scotland district in the east of the island. The Scotland district, though quite rugged, is known for its land slips and erosion problems. The coralline area is characterized by a number of terraces rising towards the interior of the island, and deep gullies from the higher elevations (bordering the Scotland District) radiating to the coast. The island is relatively flat, with the highest point being Mount Hillaby at 340 m, near the centre of the island.
Barbados has a tropical oceanic climate with a cooling influence from the northeast trade winds. Average daytime temperature is about 29ºC, ranging from 20ºC to 32ºC.
Average annual rainfall is 1 422 mm with the wet (hurricane) season from June to December. In the dry season, from January to May, rainfall may be less than 25 mm/month. Rainfall distribution varies with the season such that during the dry season rainfall is highest at the centre of the island, while during the wet season the western side of the island receives more rainfall. Rainfall varies considerably with elevation, ranging from an average of 1 875 mm per year in the higher central area to 1 275 mm in the coastal zone.
In 2013, the total population was about 285 000 inhabitants, of which around 55 percent was rural (Table 1). Population density is 663 inhabitants/km2, which is amongst the highest in the world. The average annual population growth rate in the 2003-2013 period has been estimated at 0.5 percent. The population is mainly concentrated in the urban corridor along the west coast, south coast and in Bridgetown, the capital (located in the southwest).
In 2012, 100 percent of the total population had access to improved water sources. In 2006, 92 percent of the total population had access to improved sanitation (both urban and rural).