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Basic Information

Area: 431 km²

Calling code: +1 (246)

Population: 279,000

Official Language: English and Barbadian Dialect

Time zone: (UTC-4), Local time: 09:27


The island of Barbados is located in the western area of the North Atlantic Ocean, and it is part of the lesser Antilles. The small island has territory that covers just 431km2, with a population of 284,589, 40% of which live in urban areas. The capital city of Bridgetown is situated on the south-western coast of the island, 16km away from the countries only international airport. It is the largest and most inhabited city in Barbados, with a current population of 98,511. Most popular tourist hot-spots are located on the southern coast, as the Atlantic coast is not suitable for beach holidays, due to large and dangerous waves and a rugged, rocky coastline.

The island is sub-divided into eleven parishes, although regional government councils in each parish were abolished in 1959. After gaining its Independence, Barbados became a member of many international organizations, which allow it to trade freely with international markets and help it to improve its foreign trade situation. The current currency used is the Barbadian dollar (BBD).


Barbados achieved its Independence in 1966, since then it has experienced a growth in GDP, and expansion in particular sectors such as tourism and offshore banking. The tourism industry employs over 10% of the entire national workforce, and contributes an estimated 13% towards the GDP figure of $3.68 billion, the retail sector is also strong, employing over 18,000 people.

The favourable offshore tax rates have attracted a wealth of international financial institutions, including 47 offshore banks and numerous investment and insurance companies that cater specifically for oversees clients. The four largest companies in the country are the Barbados National Bank, Barrick International Corporation, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Central Bank of Barbados - all of which are financial related institutions.

Agriculture employs a tenth of the workforce and contributes 6% to the GDP. Despite a recent decline in sugarcane exports, partially down to a late harvest, the new government announced several new incentives to help expand the agricultural sector, such as a $15 million dollar loan which was pumped into the system in 2009. The most popular crop harvested is sugarcane, followed by cotton and fruit and vegetables such as pumpkins, squash and bananas. In 2009 Barbados exported $385 million worth of goods, mainly to Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Brazil, the U.S and the U.K.


Considering its small size, Barbados has a well structured transportation infrastructure which allows for easy access around the country, and to the rest of the world. There is one airport in the country, the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI), which is located 12km from Bridgetown. It offers frequent flights to international destinations, and British Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways all operate flights to London, which have an approximate flight time of 7 hours and 30 minutes.

Despite having a fully functioning railway system which was used to transport sugarcane in the 1800’s Barbados no longer has an operational railway network, and transport is now centered around buses, minibuses and taxi’s. Barbados has 1,600km of roads and highways, which gives it on of the highest road network densities in the western hemisphere.

There are a total of 85 merchant marine in operation in the country, one of which is used for the shipping of passengers, the rest of the ships are used as cargo, bulk, petroleum and chemical tanker ships. The Port of Bridgetown is the largest on the island and handles all of the countries imports and exports. It is also the only passenger cruise ship docking area in Barbados, and a dredging project completed in 2002 now allows some of the worlds largest cruise ships to safely dock in the port.


There are an estimated 175,000 officially employed people in Barbados, 75% of which work in the service sector, 15% in industry and 10% in agriculture. Over 90% of the entire population are of African descent, while the remaining population consist of British, Irish, Chinese, Indian and American nationals. The official language spoken by the majority of the workforce is English, while Bajan is spoken by many Barbadians, which is classified as broken English, but utilizes English words in an African Syntax.

Barbados has a structured education system which is similar to the model currently used in Britain. Education is compulsory and provided free of charge to all citizens up to the age of 16. There are a total of over 70 primary schools, 20 secondary schools, and 3 universities on the island. Over 20% of the countries budget is invested into the education infrastructure, helping to give the country high standard of teaching and a national literacy rate which is not far off 100%.

Business Costs

There are two individual tax rates in Barbados: a 20% rate for all individuals earning less than $24,500 BBD a year, and a 35% rate for those earning over $24,500 BBD a year. Tax deductions and allowances are available. The basic corporate tax rate is set at 25% for most companies. Approved small businesses, manufacturing and life insurance companies, are all entitled to a discounted corporate tax rate of 15% providing they fit specific requirements. Barbados also has extremely favourable tax rates for international Business Companies (IBCs), along with special deductions for offshore trusts. A reduced rate of VAT is available for hotel accommodation, while the standard rate of VAT is 15%. Most food items, financial services and all exports from the country are exempt from VAT.

Barbados has set a minimum wage that only applies to shop assistants and household domestics, and it is fixed at $5 BBD per hour, which is the current equivalent of £1.60 per hour. A 2009 report by Dr. Delisle Worrell showed that the average Barbadian is earning between $200 and $499 a week, or £61.34 - £160 a week.
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