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The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. African slaves worked the sugar plantations established on the island until 1834 when slavery was abolished. The economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th century. The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance.


Caribbean, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela

Natural Resources

petroleum, fish, natural gas

Population - distribution

most densely populated country in the eastern Caribbean; approximately one-third live in urban areas

English (official), Bajan (English-based creole language, widely spoken in informal settings)
BRIDGETOWN (capital) 90,000 (2014)
Conventional long form
Conventional short form
Local long form
Local short form
parliamentary democracy (Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm
Geographic coordinates
13 06 N, 59 37 W
Time difference
UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Barbados is the wealthiest and one of the most developed countries in the Eastern Caribbean and enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners, boosted by being in the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and by a relatively highly educated workforce. Following the 2008-09 recession, the economy has grown due to increases in tourist arrivals, construction, financial services and exports. However, Barbados’ high public debt to GDP ratio and falling international reserves remain areas of concern. Growth prospects are limited because of a weak economic outlook.
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -248,161,275
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 2,041,594,850
Exports of goods and services
US$ 1,635,740,100
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 254,424,002
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 1,385,498,227
sugarcane, vegetables, cotton
tourism, sugar, light manufacturing, component assembly for export
manufactures, sugar, molasses, rum, other foodstuffs and beverages, chemicals, electrical components
Trinidad and Tobago 22.7%, US 11.9%, St. Lucia 9.3%, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 5.8%, Antigua and Barbuda 4.7%, St. Kitts and Nevis 4.4%, Guyana 4.3% (2015)
consumer goods, machinery, foodstuffs, construction materials, chemicals, fuel, electrical components
Trinidad and Tobago 39%, US 31.1% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
Business Climate Rating

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