Political Status: Independent member of the Commonwealth since November 30, 1966.

Area: 166 sq. mi. (431 sq. km.).

Population: 282,746 (2012E—UN); 287,733 (2012E—U.S. Census).

Major Urban Center (2005E): BRIDGETOWN (urban area, 142,000).

Official Language: English.

Monetary Unit: Barbados Dollar (official rate October 3, 2011: 2.00 dollars = $1US).

Sovereign: Queen ELIZABETH II.

Governor General: Sir Clifford HUSBANDS; succeeded Dame Ruth Nita BARROW, who died December 19, 1995.

Prime Minister: Freundel STUART (Democratic Labour Party); succeeded David THOMPSON (Democratic Labour Party), who died October 23, 2010.

The Country

Geographically part of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is also the most easterly of the Caribbean nations. The island enjoys an equable climate and fertile soil, approximately 85 percent of the land being arable. Population density is among the world's highest, although the birth rate has declined in recent ...

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