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Best of Barbados
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Outstanding Key Facts... at a Glance

CAPITAL is Bridgetown

POPULATION. Approximately 254,000

CLIMATE. Eight to nine hours of sunshine most days. Temperature between 75 F and 90 F year round.

GEOGRAPHY. A 21 mile x 14 mile Caribbean island. West and South Coast have calm Caribbean sea and endless beaches. Rugged cliffs and Atlantic Ocean on East Coast.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE is English with a broad Bajan dialect. 

CURRENCY is Barbados Dollar - US $1 = BDS $2 approx.

DRIVING.  A temporary yearly Barbados license costs BDS$10 and is obtainable from car rental agencies and Police Stations. Full license must be shown. Drive on left. 

TIME. Barbados is in the Atlantic Time Zone, which is ZULU (GMT) minus 4 hours. One Hour (1) ahead of EST, Eastern US Time Zone. There is no daylight saving time in Barbados

ACCOMMODATION.  Caters for all tastes and budgets from luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts to rooms in small hotels and self-catering apartments. 

SPORTS. Snorkeling, diving, fishing, sailing, water skiing, tennis, squash. Three 18-hole and three nine-hole golf courses. 

ENTRY REQUIREMENT.  Every person entering Barbados should be in possession of a valid passport and a valid return ticket.

General duty free allowances in Barbados.
Personal Effects: 1 liter of potable spirits or wine, 200 cigarettes (one carton) or 100 cigars or 50 cigars and cigarettes not exceeding 230 grams in aggregate. All articles in excess of this exemption are subject to the relevant duty and tax.

Personal effects are passengers’ baggage containing apparel and articles for personal use which a traveler may reasonably require during his vacation e.g. clothing, cosmetics and accessories.

Restricted or Prohibited Items.
The importation of certain articles are restricted or prohibited in order to protect the community, to maintain animal and plant life, among other reasons. Prohibited articles such as illegal drugs and pornography will be seized and persons may face penalties or prosecution.
Restricted items may be released after inspection by the appropriate agency or detained until conditions of the restrictions are met. Receipts are issued for all articles detained by customs. Among the restricted items are:

Fruits and Vegetables. All fruits, vegetables, plants, cuttings, seeds or unprocessed plant products must be declared to customs and presented for inspection by a Plant Quarantine Officer. Fresh fruits from certain countries are prohibited in order to prevent the spreading of pest and plant diseases. Certain plant, seeds or cuttings may require an import permit and a photosanitary certificate.

WEDDINGS.  It is now possible for ceremonies to take place on day of arrival, providing documents are in order. Apply to Ministry of Legal Affairs, Bridgetown

ELECTRICITY. Electricity in Barbados is: 110 volts/50 cycles. Most hotels can provide adapters and transformers for hair dryers and other appliances

EDUCATION. The Barbados Government pays the cost of education of Barbadian students at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, this includes provision of textbooks. This strong emphasis on education has resulted in a literacy rate estimated at about 98% - one of the highest in the world.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) comprises three campuses spread across the Caribbean - Cave Hill (Barbados), St. Augustine (Trinidad) and Mona (Jamaica). The University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates in areas such as the humanities, science and technology, computer science, engineering, education, medicine, law and agriculture.

Because of its high educational standards and quality research, the UWI has been able to attract some of the brightest students from the Caribbean and beyond, and it maintains strong partnerships with universities in the U.K., U.S.A, and Canada, including Oxford, John Hopkins and McGill.
  • The United Nations Development Index (1996) ranked Barbados third in terms of quality of life among 160 developing countries worldwide (Hong Kong and Cyprus ranked first and second respectively). Barbados ranked ahead of countries such as Spain, Italy and Ireland.
  • Our research and surveys show, visitors highlight the friendliness of Barbadians as its greatest and most pleasing asset. This is reflected in the highest repeat visitor factor in the region of  39%
  • The people of Barbados have a history of long ingrained Christian principles, a sound and free educational system with a literacy rate of 97%
  • Barbados has the third oldest parliament in the world with 358 years of an uninterrupted parliamentary system of government.
  • Barbados is spiritually alive, it vibrates with enlightenment and vitality. You will see it in the faces of its fishermen, coconut vendors, shopkeepers, hotel workers, artisans, policemen and pedestrians. You will hear it in our music, in the laughter of its people, in their talk and friendly gossip and you will sense it in their spontaneous, natural and happy disposition.
  • Barbados is the only vacation destination in this Hemisphere with a scheduled Concorde service.
  • On this "mustard seed" of an island (21 miles) long and a smile (14 miles) wide!
  • We are the only coral island in the region with all white sand beaches.
  • Barbados has pure drinking water and was the first Caribbean island to have piped water.
  • Excellent telecommunications.
  • Utilities available 100% island-wide.
  • Accessible to everywhere
  • It is warm and sunny all year round with an average daytime high of 75 - 85oF. The nights are usually slightly cooler.
  • Its mostly sunny and fair in Barbados.  Warm days with cool winds and cozy nights. It rains most in summer and a good rainfall is refreshing and much needed. Rain is usually followed quickly by sunny skies and within minutes everything will be dry.  Tropical rainstorms sometimes occur in the hurricane season which runs from June to October (as we say in Barbados - "June too soon, October all over!").  Tropical rains are spectacular but the island is very porous and the heaviest rains quickly drain off into the underground lakes or the sea.  
  • The prevailing northeast tradewinds blow steadily so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot.
  • The rain usually comes in quick showers. The dry season lasts from January to June. We are in the tropics, and believe it or not, some people actually put on a sweater in the cool night winter time breezes. Barbadians complain that the sea is cold when its 78oF !!!
  • Hurricanes usually avoid Barbados. They arise off the African Coast and head to the Caribbean, swinging North about 100 miles from Barbados. The pattern is reasonably consistent as hurricanes tend to bounce from one land mass to the next and Barbados is somewhat separate from the Caribbean island chain. This does not of course make us immune, but the last occasion which Barbados suffered a direct hit was in 1955.  There is a story of a bus driver who drove his passengers straight through the worst of Barbados' hurricanes, "was a bit of a breeze" he is supposed to have said. Other recorded hurricanes to hit the island occurred in 1898 and 1831.

  •  The Barbados Dollar is converted at the rate of $1.98 BDS to $1.00 U.S. The BDS Dollar is fixed to the U.S Dollar and does not fluctuate. Its rate to other currencies fluctuate daily based on their fluctuations relative to the U.S. Dollar.

  • Most establishments will accept travelers cheques, U.S. and Canadian currency. There are many commercial banks that will change most currencies.
  • Bring clothes for the tropics.
  • Light cotton dresses and light jackets for formal wear.
  • Casual slacks and lightweight sports for the times when you are not in a bathing suit.
  • Beachwear should also include sunglasses, sunblock and beach footwear.
  • While Barbados is a fun holiday island, there are dress codes, and because of 300 years of conservative British heritage, formal attire is still seen at times other than weddings and funerals. Business men wear a shirt and tie and sometimes a jacket. Women wear smart dresses. Its a good idea to wear pants and shirt when visiting the bank, it looks more respectful and gives you a pocket for your wallet. Bathing suits are best for the beach, beach bars and the pool.

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