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Capital: Bridgetown

Population: 277,821

Official Language: English

Other Language (s): Bajan

Size: 439 km² (169 square miles)

Currency:  Barbadian Dollar (BBD)

Motto: “Pride and Industry”

Drives on the: left

Calling code: +1-246

Barbados considered the gem of the Caribbean Sea by locals is situated to the east of the Leeward island chain.

It has enjoyed over 51 years of independence since November 30, 1966, despite having the world’s third oldest parliament.

Its 166 square miles consists of 11 parishes from the north St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. George, St. John and to the south Christ Church and St. Philip.

To the north of the island in St. James is Holetown, initially called Jamestown, which was the first settlement of Barbados.

It boasts a variety of restaurants, several of which have beachfront views and a boardwalk to enjoy the lovely sea breeze and scenery.

Also if the mood to shop strikes, there are Chattel Village shops selling local art, craft and fashion.

Furthermore, there are two premium duty-free malls which sell famous high-end brands.

In St. Michael is the island’s capital and commercial centre, Bridgetown, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is home to the Bridgetown Port where cruise ships dock and Parliament Buildings where the Barbados Heroes Gallery and Barbados Museum of Parliament reside.

Bridgetown also boasts a fusion of old and new where a great deal of historic buildings is nestled amongst modern buildings.

Locals and visitors can also take a stroll through Bridgetown and enjoy a variety of experiences from interacting with street vendors to strolling along the boardwalk, gazing at the catamarans and fishing boats docked while also enjoying the merriment of local bars and restaurants.

What really brings the island and Bridgetown alive is the annual Crop Over festival and Grand Kadooment Day.

This summer festival attracts tourists from all over the world as the island celebrates the ending of the Sugar Cane Harvest.

The Crop Over Fetes, Calypso Tents and Mini Carnivals helps to maintain the hype of the festival which ends on Grand Kadooment Day. This is where locals and visitors, in their colourful costumes, parade and party to soca songs of past and present.

To the south of the island in Christ Church is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Garrison Savanah.

This is home to horse racing in Barbados as well as the annual Independence Day Parade.

Also in the area are the Barbados Museum and the Barbados Defence Barracks where the changing of the guards is still done weekly.

Along the south coast are hotels and apartments which have the beautiful calm blue crystal sea and white sandy beaches as their backdrop.

Here locals and visitors alike can enjoy a plethora of beach activities such as jet skis, surfing, snorkelling or sunbathing.

There is also the infamous St. Lawrence Gap with its diverse restaurants, shops and lively nightlife with the aid of a number of nightclubs which provide a wide range of genres of music.

Another popular area is Oistins which comes alive on weekend nights for the fish fry at Bay Gardens where you can get your choice of fish and other seafood selections grilled or fried on the spot with your meal.

Also, there is local art, craft and jewellery being sold as well.

Patrons are often serenaded to back-in-time hits and local music from the past and present.

Barbados truly has a lot to offer no matter what there is something for everyone.

Contributed by Janeene Cumberbatch.