(bärba´doz) , island state (1995 est. pop. 256,000), 166 sq mi (430 sq km), in the West Indies. The capital and largest city is Bridgetown .
The island, E of St. Vincent, in the Windward Islands, is the easternmost of the Caribbean islands. It is low and rises gradually toward its highest point at Mt. Hillaby (1,104 ft/336 m). Although there is ample rainfall from June to December, there are no rivers, and water must be pumped from subterranean caverns. More than three quarters of the population is of African descent, and about 15% are of mixed African and European descent. English-speaking, most Barbadians are Protestant.
The porous soil and moderate warmth are excellent for the cultivation of sugarcane, which was historically the island's main occupation. Today, sugar and molasses remain important products and are the country's largest exports. The healthful and equable climate makes it a very popular tourist resort and tourism is the country's largest industry. Manufacturing (largely chemicals, electrical components, clothing, rum, and machinery) and banking are growing sectors of the economy.
Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003.