Barbados is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State, represented locally by a governor-general.
Like the flags of some other Caribbean nations, the flag of Barbados was the result of a competition to find a suitable emblem. Like many too, it stresses the favoured geographical situation of the island, the easternmost of all the Caribbean islands, and one of the Lesser Antilles.
A vertical tribar of blue, gold, blue represents Barbados’ golden beaches in the blue waters of the Caribbean. The trident of the Graeco-Roman sea god Poseidon/Neptune, appeared on the colonial arms. Now the broken shaft on the gold bar shows the island has broken away to independence, while still respecting the traditions of the past. It shows Barbados’ status as an independent state since gaining its freedom from the United Kingdom in 1966.
Pedro Campos, a Portuguese explorer, dubbed the island “Los Barbados” (“Bearded”) in 1536 because of the island’s fig trees, whose long, hanging, aerial roots seemed to him like beards. The Spanish virtually exterminated the Caribs living on the island by early in the 17th century. The British began to settle the island in 1627 and Britain remained the colonial power on the island without interruption until Barbados attained its independence on 30 November 1966.
Area: 431 sq. km.
Population: 279, 912 (July 2006 proj. estimate)
Language: English (official); Caribbean Creole
Currency: Barbadian dollar (US$1=BBD$2)
Legal system: Based on English common law.
Along with Guyana, Barbados has replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final Appellate Court.