Barbados, the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, is located to the east of the Windward islands and 460km (285.7 miles) northwest of Venezuela. By air it is about 4.5 hours from New York, 5 hours from Toronto and 8 hours from London. The island’s geographic location makes it very convenient for doing business with North America.
The topography is relatively flat and composed mostly of coral. The highest point on the island is Mount Hillaby, at 336m or (1,104 ft) above sea level. Barbados has lovely sandy beaches and a pleasant tropical climate that attracts visitors and investors alike. The average daytime temperature ranges between 84-86 degrees Fahrenheit (29-30 degrees Celsius). Barbados has used these resources effectively to develop a viable tourist industry, which now serves as the base for a stable and buoyant economy.
The resident population of Barbados is estimated at 266,221 as at September 2022. The ethnic mix consists of 93% of African descent, 3.2% European, 2.6% of mixed race and 1% East Indian. The population density is high, with 85% of the population living in urban areas.
Barbados’ high standard of education has produced an easily trained workforce, with an adequate supply of professional as well as skilled and unskilled labour. As at 2022, the labour force was estimated at 136,500. Owing to the residual effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact that it has had on the tourism sector, unemployment has increased. However, The Central Bank of Barbados Economic Review for January to September 2022 stated that during 2022 jobless trends reverted to a normal trend and, at June 2022, the unemployment rate was 9.3%, down from 15.9% a year earlier. The three main industries accounting for improvements in the unemployment rate were tourism, wholesale and retail trade and construction. Additionally, as all restrictions have been lifted, workers have largely returned to work.
The weekly working hours for office personnel vary between 35 to 40 hours, while a 40-hour week is normal for manual workers. Work undertaken in excess of the basic workweek and during public holidays normally attracts premium rates of pay.
Several pieces of legislation are in place to govern labour relations including the Employment Rights Act, the Severance Payments Act and the Holidays With Pay Act. The National Insurance and Social Security Act provides medical assistance for employees in the event of illness, maternity leave and accidents. It also makes provision for unemployment, disability and pension benefits. For further information visit www.nis.gov.bb.
The labour movement is represented by four major unions. There have been few work stoppages in recent years, primarily due to the existence of good labour relations.
Barbados has twelve paid public holidays. In addition, all workers have a statutory right to twelve weeks of maternity leave and three weeks of annual vacation with pay, which increases to four weeks after the fifth year of steady employment. The labour movement is represented by four major unions. There have been few work stoppages in recent years, primarily due to the existence of good labour relations.
New Year Holiday – January 2
Errol Barrow Day – January 21
Good Friday – April 7
Easter Monday – April 10
National Heroes Day – April 28
May Day – May 1
Whit Monday – May 29
Emancipation Day – August 1
Kadooment Day – August 7
Independence Day – November 30
Christmas Day – December 25
Boxing Day – December 26
The Barbados educational system is modelled after the British system and is considered to provide one of the highest standards of education in the English Caribbean. The educational system ranges from pre-school to university. School is compulsory up to age 16 and government schools are free at the primary and secondary levels. Educational institutions at the post-secondary level include colleges, a university, vocational and technical training schools. There are also special schools for the mentally and physically disabled.
Barbados is recognised as having the most modern medical facilities in the Eastern Caribbean. The life expectancy at birth is 75.83 years for males and 79.73 years for females. Medical services are provided by two major hospitals and several well-equipped clinics, health centres and nursing homes. The government-run 600 bed Queen Elizabeth Hospital provides several specialist services along with a 24-hour casualty service.
The second major hospital, Bayview Hospital, is a private health facility that also provides a variety of medical services.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital - (246) 436-6450
Bayview Hospital - (246) 436-5446
Sandy Crest Medical Centre – (246) 419-4911
Coverley Medical Centre - (246) 627-1000
Island Care Ambulance - (246) 537-9425 or (246) 537-9315
Barbados has a reliable supply of electricity. The domestic and commercial supply voltage in major residential areas and in all new developments is 115/230 volts at 50Hz. In Bridgetown and some other areas, the supply voltage is 115/200 volts at 50Hz.
The Barbados Water Authority, a Government statutory corporation, is the sole provider of water services. Water service can be connected within 48 to 72 hours. A monthly payment for continued service is based on the meter system, with garbage and sewage contribution fees also being collected on this monthly bill. The water service in Barbados is reliable and tap water is safe to drink.
Barbados is equipped with a modern telecommunications infrastructure with the latest in digital technology and fibre optics systems including international direct dialling, facsimile transfer and satellite telecommunications which allows for the efficient transmission of electronic data. Internet and e-mail services, as well as express mail and courier delivery, are also available.
Local cell-phone operators are divisions of international telecommunications providers with service offerings that the international business traveller has come to expect, such as the ability to easily roam and the availability of high-speed 3G and 4G data networks island-wide. The International direct distance dialling code for Barbados is (1-246), followed by a seven-digit local number.
Barbados has an extensive road system of about 1,475 km of paved roads. Highways link the north and south of the island, as well as the west coast and the airport on the south-east coast.
The Grantley Adams International Airport, located about 15 minutes from the capital city Bridgetown, plays an important role as a vital centre and link for international air traffic in the Eastern Caribbean. The main passenger terminal handles in excess of 2 million passengers each year and has been upgraded to accommodate increases in traffic.
Barbados has one of the most modern ports in the Caribbean with both a deep-water harbour and a shallow draught facility. There are regular freight sailings to North America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The Bridgetown port is well equipped with container-handling and berth facilities for ocean-going freighters and passenger vessels, including major luxury liners and has undergone recent upgrading to expand its berth and customs facilities. The port has won awards for the most improved port facility and the most receptive destination.