Island Guide


Barbados Geography

Barbados is one of only a few true coral islands within the Caribbean. Barbados is divided into 11 parishes. The small and mostly flat terrain is 21 miles long (34km.) and 14 miles wide (22km) and its area is 166 square miles. Barbados is the most easterly island in the Caribbean’s Windward Chain. The island benefits from warm and sunny weather year round and is surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters.

Barbados Government

Barbados achieved independence in 1966. It has a Governor General and a Prime Minister. The island is a member of the Commonwealth. Barbados also has two Parliamentary houses – The House Of Assembly and the Senate. Barbados has the third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth.

Banking Hours

Barbados Banking opening hours are normally from 8.00 am until 3.00 pm (Mon. – Thur.) and on Friday 8.00 am until 5.00 pm, however for added convenience they are several ATM’s in Bridgetown and on both the South and West Coast. Stores normally open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm or from 9:00 am until 5:00pm Mon.-Fri and on Saturdays from 8:30 am until 1.00 pm or 2.00 pm.


The Barbados dollar is tied to the USD at the rate of US $1.00 = BDS $1.98, however other currencies fluctuate so check with a banking institution. The USD is therefore accepted island-wide and most restaurants and stores accept the major credit cards and traveler’s cheques.

Value Added Tax

Taxable transactions – VAT is levied on the sale of goods and the provision of services.

Rates – The standard VAT rate is 17.5%. A rate of 7.5% applies to hotel accommodation. A zero rate applies to exports, basic foodstuffs and international freight services. Exemptions include some financial services and sales of real property.


Usually 10 – 15%.

Postal System

The General Post Office is in Bridgetown in Cheapside and there are seventeen district post offices around the island. Stamps can easily be bought at most hotels and in a variety of stores. They are also several post boxes located around the island.


The Barbados government owned buses are blue with yellow stripes BM on the license plates.


Barbados’ population is approximately 284,735 with an ethnic mix of approx. 93% African descent, 3% European descent, 4% Indian and Asian descent and mixed races.


In the Parish of St. Michael is Bridgetown the Barbados’ Capital.


In the event of an emergency the relevant contact numbers are Police – 211, Ambulance – 511, and Fire – 311. Also you can visit or contact the FMH Emergency Medical Clinic in Belleville on Tel: 228-6120, or the Sandy Crest Medical Centre in Sunset Crest Holetown in St. James on Tel: 419-4911. Services can also be rendered at the QEH Hospital (24 hours a day) available at 436-6450 or 429-6739 also located in St. Michael.


The water supply is clean, and is safe to drink from the tap.


GMT minus 4 hours in the winter and minus 5 hours in the summer.


Generally ranges between 27 degrees and 31 degree’s Celsius.


English is the official language.


115/230 volts AC, 50 cycle.


Mostly Anglican, but over 100 different religions practicing in accord.



Serious crime is not the regular in Barbados; nevertheless do not leave your valuables unattended whether left in a car or left in clear site in the apartment. Stay in well lit and familiar areas at night. Always lock your hotel room door and keep valuables in a safe if one is provided in the room. On a majority of Barbados west coast beaches Manchineel trees can be found, these trees bear a poisonous green fruit that resemble crab-apple. If the fruit is touched it will blister your skin also avoid their shelter when there is rainfall as water running from the leaves can cause blisters..


The penalties for the possession or usage of illegal drugs are severe, even for “softer” drugs such as marijuana.

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