Map of Barbados 01Barbados measures 23km(14 miles) at it's widest point, is 34km(21 miles) long and covers a mere 416 square km(166sq miles). The population is 267,900 and growing.

While the legal tender is Barbados dollars, US dollars are accepted everywhere.

Full independence from British rule was granted on 30th November 1966.

Geographically, Barbados is not part of the arc of Caribbean islands since only the West Coast of the Caribbean lies in the Caribbean Sea. The North and East Coasts lie in the Atlantic Ocean and because of this these coasts have very high waves and strong currents.

Go diving in Barbados and you'll see Barracuda, 3 types of turtles, sea horses, sponges,mackeral and brightly coloured tropical fish.

Duty free shopping is available on the island - show your passport for cut - price jewellery, electronic goods, alcohol and cigarettes.

The fact that the island is made up of coral limestone and underlain by sedimentary rock means that most of its surface water runs off underground.The limestone rocks act as a filter for the underground water so when the water passes through these rocks, it is filtered. This is the main reason why the water is of a high quality.

Green monkeys run free on the island - they are considered a delicacy by some. If it isn't your cup of tea the island's national dishes are flying fish, cou cou (cornmeal and okra pudding) and macoroni cheese pie. Despite global domination, MacDonalds has failed to find success on the island. Barbados claims to be home of rum and its Mount Gay brand is the oldest in the world. There are over 1000 rum shops on the island.

The only natural harbour is Carlisle Bay on the Southern Western coast which is extremely shallow and only accessible to light draught vessels.

Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the world - a staggering 98% of the population can read and write .

The island's oldest hotel, The Crane, opened in 1887.

There are few rivers on the island and with expectation of the Constitution River, all are located in the hilly parishes of St.Andrew and St.Joseph. This is because the rocks of the Scotland District are not permeable, forcing the water to settle on the surface.

The island is home to several caves, the most famous being Harrison's Cave and the Animal Flower Cave. The parish of St.Lucy , in the north , is known for its sea caves which are said to have been formed over 500,000 years ago. Prior to the settlement of Barbados in 1627, the island was covered in dense tropical rainforest. Unfortunately, almost all of this forest was cut down. Only two examples of this forest remain; Turner's Halls Woods and Joe's River Rain Forest.

Barbados is geographically divided into 11 parishes: St.Lucy,St.Peter,St.James.St.Joseph,St.Andrew,St.John,St.Thomas,St.
George,Christ Church,St.Michael and St.Philip.

The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown. The principal commercial centre it is also the largest and liveliest city in Barbados.

Calypso is in the island's typical music, played on steel pan drums.