Barbados is a sovereign island country located in the Caribbean region of the Lesser Antilles. It covers a total land area of 432 square kilometres, and is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic. It is about 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea, 168 kilometres east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and 400 kilometres north-east of Trinidad and Tobago.
Originally claimed under the Spanish Crown in the late 15th century, Barbados came to English rule when the first ships of then England and Ireland (union of the Scottish and English crowns) docked and took possession of the island in the name of King James I in 1625. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England and it became an English and later British colony, while in 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.
Today, Barbados is a top-of-the-line tourist destination in the Atlantic region (although claims are it is a part of the Caribbean) with a population of 277,821 people that are mostly of African descent. Its capital is UNESCO World Heritage site Bridgetown, while the local and recognised languages are English and Bajan. In 2011, Barbados ranked second in the Americas after Canada and 16th globally on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, making its government trustworthy and its local legislation almost fluid.
What to see & do
Tourism-wise, Barbados has it all: beach resorts of all classes to grand and vibrant nightlife, UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful in-land architecture and lush gardens, wild and diverting surfing, and proud peoples of various descents.
Bridgetown – this unique capitol is by far arguably the most beautiful of them all in the Lesser Antilles, with its various sights and sounds to behold. Travellers may spend one whole day gawking at colonial buildings that are opulent and beautiful, spend more hours (and cash) on great shopping, enjoy the culture, fill their tummies with the best Caribbean and Creole cuisine, visit the historical sights, and just bask in the wonderful climate
with some shades on. Popular destinations here include the Parliament Buildings, the Nidhe Israel Museum, the National Heroes Square, St. Michael's Cathedral, and the Barbados Synagogue. Visit Swan Street and Broad Street for some enjoyable shopping and clubbing, then head south on a day tour to the Garrison, which was recognised by UNESCO in 2012 for its historical significance.
Miami Beach – a (not-so) hidden gem that is the complete opposite of its American counterpart, Miami Beach in Barbados is a small, shady, and intimate beach that is well removed from the often frenetic south-coast pace. It gets crowded on weekends, but is clear during the week for travellers to enjoy. Find some quiet time here, and look for Mr. Delicious for some treats.
Bathsheba – Bathsheba is the prime surfing country and the surfer's haven in Barbados; an idyllic and chill image of sand, sea, and palm trees. Enjoy the long beach walks if not in for some water activities, and make sure to catch the iconic Mushroom Rock, one of the several rocks carved into shapes that will cause mycologists to fall.
How to get around within Barbados
The best way to get around is through cars. Cars can be rented from the city centres, and driving is on the left. If quite budget-conscious, buses also have extensive networks in Barbados, while taxis are another option. Mopeds and bikes can also be rented for places that are not easily reached by cars, although not recommended due to the poor condition of many secondary and residential roads.
How to get there
The Sir Grantley Adams International Airport is a huge international airport in the area and boasts of flights arriving and departing especially from the United States and Canada. Popular airlines going to Barbados include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, Westjet, and American Airlines.
Images by Flickr/jcantroot
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