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QUICK TIPS

Climate: The average daytime high is just below 30°C (86°F) and the average low is in the mid to low 20’s°C. The rainy season (and hurricane season) is June to November. However sometimes it can be rainy in December. Once the tradewinds are blowing the climate is quite pleasant.

Dolphin: Dolphin in Barbados is the fish (mahi mahi or dorado) and not the mammal, so do not be alarmed if you see dolphin advertised for sale. 

Duty Free Shopping: Duty free shopping is good value and when making duty free purchases make sure to take your passport and airline ticket with you.

Driving: Driving is on the left. Please be patient as drivers stop randomly drop off passengers or to chat. Quite often indicators are not used. On the ABC Highway there is frequent lane changing and speeding. Please do not drink and drive. Since the economic crisis in 2008 the roads have deteriorated and there a lot of potholes.

Electricity: 110 volts/50 cycles. The supply is reliable, with only occasional outages. North American electrical items work fine, but UK & European items need adapters.

Emergency Contact Numbers: Police: 211 / Fire: 311 / Ambulance: 511

Environmental Issues: Barbados has a problem with litter, so please don’t litter when travelling around the island. We are pushing the government to enforce litter laws but they are reluctant to do, which is mindboggling. If you don’t like what you see, and have the time, please write a letter to the editor: editorial@nationnews.com. Quite often a letter from a visitor gets more notice than one from a resident. Barbados is also a water scarce country so please don’t waste water. The quality of the water is good and you can drink it from the tap. If you would like to support environmental initiatives in Barbados please check out the Future Centre Trust: www.futurecentretrust.org.

Geography: Barbados is 34 kilometres (21 miles) in length and 23 kilometres (14 miles) in width at its widest point, covering an area of 432 square kilometres (166 square miles).

Government: Barbados has been independent since 1966 and the governance is the British Westminster system. There are two houses in Parliament – the Senate and the House of Assembly, and the island is a parliamentary democracy. The Governor General is the Head of State, reporting to the Queen, and executive authority is vested in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Elections are held every five years. Barbados has the third oldest parliament in the Commonwealth. 

Healthcare: Barbados has two main hospitals - the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Bayview Hospital. The former is the main, public hospital and although the surroundings are quite outdated the overall quality of healthcare is generally very good. Bayview is a privately run hospital offering quality healthcare in pleasant surroundings. There are also nine government-run polyclinics throughout the island and several private clinics and doctors.Language: English, but the Bajan dialect is spoken widely, which is often difficult to understand.

Literacy Rate: 99%.

National Dish: Flying fish and cou cou. Cou Cou is made with corn meal and okra and is of Africal Origin. 

Parishes: Barbados is divided into eleven parishes: St. Andrew, St. George, St. James, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Lucy, St. Michael, St. Peter, St. Philip, St. Thomas and Christ Church.

Population: Approximately 285,000 (2013).

Religion: More than 95% of the population is Christian, and Anglicanism is the largest religion in Barbados. However, there are over 100 religions including Muslims, Rastafarians, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of the Baha'i Faith.

Rum Distilleries: Barbados has been credited as the first place to produce rum. Mount Gay Rum is the oldest existing brand of rum in the world and has been in operation since 1703. Barbados produces some of the finest rums in the world, enjoyed by connoisseurs world-wide, and the three main distilleries are Mount Gay Distilleries, West Indies Rum Distillery and Foursquare Rum Distillery. West Indies Rum Distillery produces Malibu, the well-known coconut rum.  

Safety & Security:

- Barbados is safer than many of its neighbours but there is crime so be vigilant. Place valuables in the hotel safe and do not leave valuables on the beach. Avoid deserted areas, including beaches at night. The police emergency number is 211.

- Swimming on the east and north coasts is dangerous due to strong currents and it should be avoided.

- Avoid the manchineel tree which bears a fruit that looks like a small green apple. The fruit and leaves will blister your skin and don’t shelter under it if it is raining.

- Some of the route taxis (ZR vans) that are painted white with a maroon stripe drive recklessly and are very indisciplined. 

Time Difference: 4 hours behind GMT in winter and 5 hours in summer. 1 hours ahead of North American EST in winter and the same during Daylight Savings Time.

Towns: Barbados has four main towns – Bridgetown, Speightstown, Holetown and Oistins. Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and is located in St. Michael. It is the main hub for duty-free shopping, and is where most of the commerce takes place, and is where the cruise ships dock. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, along with its Garrison, and it is hoped that more improvements will take place to make it worthy of this designation. Speightstown is the second largest town located in St. Peter on the west coast in the north of the island. It was also known as Little Bristol as it used to trade extensively with Bristol, England. It is a sleepy town and is worth a visit. Arlington Museum is located there. Holetown is located in St. James, on the west coast. This is where the first settlers arrived and the Holetown Festival is held there every February. Oistins is located in Christ Church on the south coast and is the smallest of the four towns. It is home to the very popular Oistins Fish Fry and the Oistins Fish Festival is held there every Easter.   

Weather: There are two seasons - the dry season (December to May) and the rainy season (June to November). Annual rainfall normally ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 mm (40 and 60 in). Daytime temperatures normally range from 24 to 32 °C (75 to 90 °F) and nighttime temperatures are a little cooler. The trade winds blow for a large part of the year making the tropical climate moderate.

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