Barbados is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Caribbean Sea and close to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The country is only 34km long and is 23km at its widest point. Barbados is circled by powdery beaches and narrow plains. Its highest point is Mount Hillaby, at 340m above sea level. The eastern third of the island comprises low hills embracing the coastline.
It is no wonder that Barbados is a leading tourist destination; the verdant island boasts warm and sunny weather all year round, with an average temperature of 30ºC during peak hours of sun. The island is dry from January to June, and occasionally rainy the rest of the year.
Barbados conjures up images of fine white sand beaches, palms swaying in the wind and luxury resorts in which to unwind and de-stress. The island is also known for having developed the first commercial rum in the world and for Kensington Oval, its most important sporting facility, primarily used for cricket matches. Barbados has one of the highest standards of living in the world, with excellent educational and healthcare systems. It is home to a fascinating gastronomic culture which includes traditional and international dishes. It hosts many exciting festivals throughout the year, including jazz festivals, polo matches and regattas.
Ameridian tribes are thought to have been the first inhabitants of Barbados; some were still around when the Portuguese stopped at the island in 1537 on their way to Brazil. The sailors named the island Los Barbados after its ficus trees whose roots looked like beards. In 1625, English captain, John Powell, found that the island was uninhabited and claimed it for England. In 1627, 80 British settlers arrived in the area currently known as Holetown and soon, the island came to be known as ‘Little England’. The island was taken by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1651 and surrendered in 1652. Barbados made moves towards full independence with the abolishment of slavery, the granting of universal adult suffrage, and the enfranchisement of women. In 1966, the island gained its independence.
As is the case with all tropical islands, Barbados houses a wide array of beautiful plants, including the croton, a sturdy plant bearing vivid red, orange, gold and purple leaves. Allamanda, a bright purple yellow, purple or pink flower, grows abundantly all over the island, feeding hummingbirds, bees and other insects with its sweet nectar. Barbado’s national flower is the Pride of Barbados, also known as the dwarf Poinciana or lower fence – fiery red and yellow in colour. Delicate frangipanis, meanwhile, exude a delightful fragrance wherever they can be found.
Blackbirds can be found all through the island, moving in flocks and feeding on small frogs, lizards and giant African snails. The ample list of local birds also includes the Carib grackle, the grey kingbird, the bananaquit and the Antillean crested hummingbird. Barbados has three different types of pigeon and is home to the magnificent frigatebird, which can be found flying close to the island’s turquoise waters. Local land animals include the Barbados green monkey and the Barbados green lizard.
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