Barbados : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
75 years
Primary enrolment: 
97% (2011)

285,000 (2013); 32 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 0.4 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 13 per 1,000 people (22 in 1970); life expectancy 75 years (69 in 1970).

The population is 93 per cent of African descent, three per cent of European descent, and the rest of Asian or mixed descent (2000 census).


English is the official and first language. An English-based Creole is also widely spoken.


Mainly Christians (Anglicans 24 per cent, Pentecostals 19 per cent, Adventists six per cent, Methodists four per cent), with small Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities (2010 census).


Public spending on health was four per cent of GDP in 2012. Barbados has a national health service and the general health profile and life expectancy of a developed country. Infant mortality was 13 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (74 in 1960). In 2013, 0.9 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.


Public spending on education was 5.6 per cent of GDP in 2012. There are 11 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises six years and secondary five. Computers are widely available to schools. Some 93 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010). The school year starts in September.

The University of the West Indies has a campus at Cave Hill, Barbados, as well as in Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. A UNESCO Chair in Educational Technologies was established in 1999 at the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies. Other tertiary institutions include the Barbados Community College, with its Hospitality Institute; Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic; and Erdiston College (offering teacher education). The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 2.50:1 (2011). There is virtually no illiteracy among people aged 15–24.

In 1990 Barbados hosted the 11th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Bridgetown. Commonwealth Education Ministers meet every three years to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.


Newspapers are privately owned and include The Barbados Advocate/Sunday Advocate, The Nation and Broad Street Journal (business weekly).

CBC Radio, CBC TV (the only terrestrial television channel) and MCTV (a multichannel pay-TV service) are operated by the public Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. There are several private commercial and faith radio stations.

There are 158 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).


Country code 1 246; internet domain ‘.bb’. Mobile phone coverage is good on the island.

For every 1,000 people there are 523 landlines, 1,081 mobile phone subscriptions and 750 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Errol Barrow Day (21 January), National Heroes’ Day (28 April), Labour Day (early May), Emancipation Day (1 August), Kadooment Day (early August), Independence Day (30 November), Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday