Barbados is an island which is 32 km long and up to 25 km wide.
The name may come from the Spanish for ‘the bearded ones’, which could refer to the hanging roots of the island’s bearded fig-tree.
As the first Caribbean landfall when you come to America from Europe and Africa, Barbados has functioned as a major link between the continents.
People from the island are known colloquially as Bajan (pronounced Bay-jan).
Barbados is densely populated. More than a third of its population is concentrated in Bridgetown and the surrounding area.
The main export products are food and drinks, chemicals and electrical components.
Children in Barbados mainly go to government-funded primary and secondary schools. The island has near-total literacy.
Hurdler Ryan Brathwaite reached the semi-finals of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He also earned Barbados its first ever medal at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in 2009, when he won the Men's 110m Hurdles title with a national record of 13.14 seconds.
Barbados became a member of the Commonwealth in 1966.
It has attended all Commonwealth Games since the Vancouver 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, winning medals in Weightlifting, Athletics, Cycling and Boxing. This includes Gold in Weightlifting at the Cardiff 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Gold in Athletics at Kuala Lumpur 1998 and a Boxing Bronze at Melbourne 2006.