Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas, and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It is 34 kilometres (21 miles) in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is in the western part of the North Atlantic, 100 km (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea. Barbados is east of the Windwards, part of the Lesser Antilles, at roughly 13°N of the equator. It is about 168 km (104 mi) east of both the countries of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 180 km (110 mi) south-east of Martinique and 400 km (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.
Inhabited by Kalinago people since the 13th century, and prior to that by other Amerindians, Barbados was invaded by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appeared on a Spanish map in 1511. The Portuguese Empire claimed the island between 1532 and 1536, but later abandoned it in 1620 with their only remnants being an introduction of wild boars for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. An English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados on 14 May 1625; its men took possession of the island in the name of King James I. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and Barbados became an English and later British colony. During this period, the colony operated on a plantation economy, relying on the labour of enslaved Africans who worked on the island's plantations. The slave trade to the island continued until it was outlawed by the Slave Trade Act 1807, with final emancipation of the enslaved population in Barbados occurring over a period of five years following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.
On 30 November 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm with Elizabeth II as its queen, though the country is planning to remove her as its head of state and become a republic by 30 November 2021. The population of 287,010 is predominantly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be part of the Caribbean and is ranked as one of its leading tourist destinations.
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