Barbados is the easternmost Caribbean island located at 13˚ North; 59˚ West. It is 430 km2 and is divided into 11 parishes.
With over 3000 hours of sunshine yearly, the weather is almost always sunny and warm, cooled by the constant north-east trade winds. The average daytime temperature ranges between 84-88 degrees Fahrenheit, 29-31 degrees Celsius. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).
English, although the Bajan dialect can be heard all around the island.
Shops in Bridgetown are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Malls and out-of-town shops and boutiques usually open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Most shops are closed on Sundays, although some supermarkets and convenience stores remain open.
4 hours behind GMT in the winter and 5 hours in the summer. 1 hour ahead of US Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the winter and the same during US Daylight Saving Time.
Democratic. The House of Assembly, modelled on the British system, is the third-oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere.
273,400 (2006); Workforce: 146,800 (2006)
The Barbados dollar is tied to the US dollar at a fixed rate of US$1.00 = BDS$1.98.
The approximate rate of exchange for sterling is £1.00 = BDS$3.86, for Canadian currency, approximately CAD$1.00 = BDS$1.97 and the Euro is approximately EURO 1.00 = BDS$2.89. US currency is readily accepted everywhere on the island, while most hotels, restaurants and large stores accept travellers cheques and most major credit cards as well.
115/230 volts 50 cycle. Many hotels provide converters for European or Asian appliances. North American appliances will not need converters.
The water service in Barbados is reliable and the water supply is safe and refreshing to drink straight from the tap.
Outfit yourself for the warm tropical climate: shorts, T-shirts, wraps and sundresses would be your best bet for daytime wear, and “elegantly casual’ wear for evenings. Bear in mind that swimwear should be kept for the beach and suitable attire should be worn when going shopping or dining out.
Barbados has a modern telecommunications infrastructure with the latest in digital technology and fibre optics including international direct dialing, 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. The International direct distance dialing code for Barbados is (1-246), followed by a seven digit local number.
Driving in Barbados is on the left side of the road and the majority of vehicles are “right hand drive”. The island has an extensive road system of about 1,475 km of paved roads and a highway links the north and the south of the island. There are a number of ways to get around the island - all are safe, reliable and convenient.
A full range of well maintained vehicles are available through reliable local car hire operators. Visitors must be over 25 years and have a valid driver’s license in order to obtain a permit to drive in Barbados. The cost of a visitor’s permit is BDS$100.00 (US$50.00) and most car hire companies will issue these when the vehicle is delivered to your hotel or the airport.
Taxis in Barbados are not metered; fares are set between certain points. It is always advisable to agree on a price with the driver before setting out.
17.5% VAT (Value Added Tax) is included in all prices in shops, supermarkets and restaurants. In hotels, 7.5% VAT and 10% service charge will be added to your bill. Usually 10% - 15% is acceptable when tipping - many restaurants automatically add a 10% service charge to your bill, so you would be wise to check before tipping additionally.