Barbados At A Glance

Total Population – 277,821 (2010 Barbados Population and Housing Census)
Population Density – 662 people per square kilometre of land area (2013 World Bank data)
Annual Growth Rate (GDP) – 0% (2012 World Bank data)
Status – Independent from the UK (November 30th, 1966)
Capital – Bridgetown, St. Michael
Nationality – Barbadian or Bajan (colloquial)
Official Language – British English
Land Area – 431 km2(166.4 square miles)
Time Zone – EST +1/0; GMT -4/-5
Country Phone Code – +1 (246)
Currency – Barbadian Dollar (BBD$)
Exchange Rate – Exchange rate to US$: US$1 = BBD$1.98

Note: it is generally taken as US$1 = BBD$2 island-wide

Per Capita (per person) Income – US$15, 744 (2011 UN data)
Unemployment – 13.2% (Barbados Statistical Service data at last quarter of 2013)
Literacy (2007) – 99.7% (UNDP Report 2007-2008)
Life Expectancy at birth – 75 years (2012 World Bank data)
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1, 000 live births) – 12.3 (2010-2015 UN data)
Labour Force Participation – 64.8% (adult females), 76.2% (adult males) (2011 UN data)
Major Industries – Tourism, Financial Services, Agriculture, Light Manufacturing
Principal Exports – Tourism, Financial Services, Sugar and Molasses, Rum, Chemicals, Electrical Components
Principal Imports – Machinery, Food and Beverages, Construction Materials, Fuel, Electrical Components
Major Trading Partners – USA, CARICOM*, Canada, Japan, UK

Note: Barbados is a founding member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). For a full list of CARICOM member and associate member states, refer to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean_Community.

Interested In The Stats?

For more information about Barbados’ population and demographics, we recommend you visit the following websites:

Demographics of Barbados – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Barbados)

Barbados Statistical Service (https://www.gov.bb/Departments/statistical-services)

CIA World Factbook Barbados Profile (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/bb.html)

World Bank Data for Barbados (https://data.worldbank.org/country/barbados)

United Nations Barbados data (http://data.un.org/en/iso/bb.html)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – UN Human Development Reports (http://hdr.undp.org/en)


During the 1600s, Barbados was predominately populated by white people and held a ratio of approximately 97% white and 3% black population.

However, from 1684 to 1786, there was a ratio shift in the population to an increase in people of African descent from 66% in 1684 to 79% by 1786. In the eighteenth century, figures showed a further increase in the ratio, reflecting a margin of three to one.

Did you know? Both of these racial groups were comprised of more women than men and made Barbados unique compared with the rest of the Caribbean region.

People get ready; there’s a change coming!

This change produced significant social and cultural adjustments. A greater emphasis was placed on a legal policing system to control the population majority who, at the time, held the status of slaves and were seeking ways to break away from white oppression and live lives of equality and freedom.

After a social uprising, which increased pressure on the British Government to address the issue of slavery, the Emancipation Act was finally signed and brought into effect in 1834. After a trial of an apprenticeship system, it was decided in 1838 that all slaves be set free.

This momentous occasion marked a turning point in terms of the Barbadian population. Free labourers were now in a position to buy a property and leave the island. This time also brought various historical moments such as the introduction of income tax and the Minimum Wage Act, the creation of the Barbados Labour Party, and of course, independence from British rule; all important influences in shaping the population and society we have today.

For more detailed historical information, see our pages on History.

Population Overview

The Barbados 2010 Population and Housing Census details that there are approximately 280, 000 people living in Barbados. The Census shows the Barbadian population as a diverse ethnic mix of people, the majority of whom are of African descent. However, Barbados is also made up of people who are of mixed race, Caucasian or European descent, East Indian, Oriental and Middle Eastern.

British English is the official language spoken on the island, especially in more formal settings. The local slang, or ‘Bajan’ dialect, can be tricky to understand at times; however, it is spoken freely by locals island-wide and is for sure peppered with some humorous phrases and exciting words.

Hint: For a more detailed description, see our Language and Dialect of Barbados pages.

Anglican is officially the national religion of Barbados; however, there are various denominations of Christianity and non-Christian religions practiced throughout the island, including Seven Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim, Jewish, Rastafarian, and Roman Catholic, amongst others.

Want to know more? Check out our Religion page for more information.

Education is highly valued in Barbados, and the island is well known for its educated population. The education system is based on the British model, and the quality of education in Barbados is one of the highest in the Caribbean region. To complement this, the literacy rate in Barbados is estimated to be close to 100%; one of the highest in the world.

For all you need to know about Education in Barbados, please see our Education page.

A Melting Pot

As you can see, the population of Barbados is a melting pot of influences and is about as diverse as it comes. Barbados also ranks highly in most global population indexes, a credit to our relaxed and laid-back approach to life.

Totally Barbados encourages you to come and see for yourself – meet the people, experience the lifestyle and most of all, have fun!

Author: Brett Callaghan

About Totally Barbados (Edit profile)

Brett Callaghan is the founder and managing director of Totally Barbados. I specialize in writing content for the tourism industry for my island home of Barbados. I help companies build strategies to grow online businesses with SMART marketing, advertising, and social media goals.