IEEE 13th International Conference on Intelligent
Engineering Systems 2009
April 16-18, 2009
Island experience: www.bcslbarbados.com
Location and Geography
Barbados is a beautiful, coral and limestone island, situated about 320 km north-northeast of Trinidad and about 160 km east-southeast of St. Lucia. With an area of 430 sq km (166 sq miles), it is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands. The island is 34 km (21 miles) long N-S and 23 km (14 miles) wide E-W, with a total coastline of 97 km (60 miles).
The island is relatively flat, rising gently to the central highland region with the highest point being Mount Hilaby in the Scotland district, at 336 metres (1,115 ft) above sea level.
The name Los Barbados was given by the Portuguese upon seeing the bearded fig trees which grew abundantly on the island. The „Los” was subsequently dropped and the island bacame known as Barbados.
The capital city of Barbados, Bridgetown, is located on the country’s southwestern coast in the parish of St. Michael.
The population of Barbados is estimated at 279912 and is made up mainly of people of african descent with some European, Asian, Hindu, Muslim and Syrian influence. The official language of Barbados is English but most Barbadians speak in their national dialect, which is referred to as Bajan.
The people of Barbados are friendly, fun Loving and warm and are always ready to welcome you with a smile. You will always feel at home in Barbados.
Barbados has been and independent state in the Commonwealth since November 30, 1966, and as such functions as a parliamentary democracy modelled after the British Westminster system. Control of the government is held by the Cabinet and is responsible to the Parliament. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the winning party in the elections for the house of Assembly, whose members are elected every five years.
Barbados experiences a tropical climate which is tempered by an almost constant sea breeze from the northeast in the winter and early spring and from the southeast during the rest of the year. Temperatures range from 21° to 30°C (70 to 86 °F). Annual rainfall ranges from about 100 cm (40 in) in some coastal districts to 230 cm (90 in) in the central ridge area. There is a wet season from June to December, but rain falls periodically throughout the year.
Barbados has its own currency issued by the Central Bank of Barbados. Two Barbados dollars are equivalent to one U.S. dollar. Notes are issued in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, and $2. Coins are issued in denominations of $1 and 25, 10, 5, and 1 cents. Travelers Cheques and most major credit cards are also widely accepted.
Local voltage is 110 volts, 50 cycles.
They say that the ’best things come in small packages’. Well that must surely be true in the case of Barbados when it comes to the subject of sightseeing, fun activities and general things-to-do. Barbados measures a mere 166 square miles, being approximately 21 miles by 14 miles at its widest points, but within this neat and compact area can be found a very comprehensive range of high quality attractions. One of the great strenghts of Barbados in the regard is that there really is something to please everybody – kids, young and old, nature and wildlife lovers, gardeners and horticulturalists, bird spotters, cave enthusiasts, aviation fans, pottery and crafts people and thrill seekers – you can even go and see how we make our very special Barbados rums and beer!
Barbados has an incredibly rich history by any standards, but especially so for a country off such limited physical dimensions. It is therefore very fitting that in a day and age when our national heritage is being given much greater attention than would have been the case twenty-five years ago, this year has seen a terrific boom in the number of heritage sites and museums that are now open to visitors.
In Addition to the Barbados Museum, which for a long time was the only museum in the country, and the George Washington house Museum which opened a year ago, Barbados can now also boast of six new museums, all beautifully designed by some of the world’s most progressive museum creators. Interestingly, the current head of the International Council of Museums is a Barbadian, Ms. Alessandra Cummins, the director of the Barbados Museum.
Flora, Fauna and Sea Life
Underground caves of waterfalls and lakes, tropical gullies, flover forests and mangrove swamps can be found in Barbados. There is also an abundance of fruit trees, palms, casuarinas, mahagany and almond trees on the island. The wide variety of flowers and shrubs includes wild roses. Pride of Barbados, heliconia, hibiscus, lilies, and several cacti.
Natural wildlife includes a few mammals and birds; finches, blackbirds, and moustache birds are common. The Barbados green monkey is one indigenous species to be found on the island.
The waters of Barbados are teeming with healthy sponge coral and plant life. Also to be found are sea turtles, parrotfish, rays and barracudas.
Barbados has always been a keen gardening community. The Barbados Horticultural Society, formed in 1927, holds an annual Flower and Garden Show at the end of January at their headquarters in Balls, Christ Church. The Society has competed at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show for the past twenty consecutive years and has gained an outstanding 15 gold medals, 2 silver gilt medals and 1 silver medal. Tha late Iris Bannochie, who originally spearheaded this effort, left her property Andromeda Botanical Gardens in Bathseba to the people of Barbados, in the form of the National Trust. It is a horticultural treat well worthy of a visit. The Barbados National Trust is also the custodian of Welchman Hall Gully, another botanical treasure. In addition, the Barbados Flower Forest, Ochid World and most recently, Hunte’s Gardens are also open to the public.
Diving and Surfing
As befits a beautiful island that is surrounded by gorgeous blue ocean, Barbados is home to a wide variety of very inticing ’aqua action’, ranging from the underwater serenity of diving to the exciting thrills and spills of surfing. Diving in Barbados is multi-faceted, with flourishing reefs and a superb selection of wrecks. Barbados is home to a number of rare species that can often be difficult to see elsewhere in the world. The last twenty-five years have seen tremendous improvement and growth in the dive sector and today Barbados is known as a quality destination for divers. The same applies for surfing, in all of its various forms, which has progressed in leaps and bounds over recent years. Barbados has now gained worldwide recognition as a perfect destination for action-packed water sports.
The dazzling waters of the Caribbean Sea, along with the prevailing south easterly trade winds, have been beckoning sailors to Barbados for centuries. In its heyday, Bridgetown was one of the busiest ports in the Western Hemisphere and Barbados has long enjoyed a rich maritime heritage. Nowadays it would be diffucult to scan the coastal waters off Barbados on any given day without noticing the surprisingly large number and wide variety of pleasure craft operating up and down the doastline.
Barbados is a major hub for travel in and around the Eastern Caribbean. The Grantley Adams International Airport, having recently undergone a 4-year, multi-million dollar refurbishment, plays an important role as a vital centre and link for regional and international air-traffic in the region. The main passenger terminal handles in excess of 2 million passengers each year and has been upgraded to accommodate further increases in traffic. In 2006, 562558 visitors landed in Barbados. This does not include the 539092 who arrived via cruise ship. By air, Barbados is about 4.5 hours from New York, 3.5 hours from Miami, 5 hours from Toronto and 8 hours from London. There are non-stop daily scheduled airline services to these major international cities and a host of other destinations including Miami, Philadelphia and the Caribbean islands.
All visitors to Barbados now require a valid passport and onward or return tickets. All arriving visitors must fill in an Immigration form stating where they will be staying during their time in Barbados.
Barbados is famous for being small, but many visitors are often surprised by the extremely wide range of geology, scenery and vegetation that can be found across the island. Not only can you get lost for hours but you will sometimes feel that you may have crossed the border into some other country. In Barbados, geography students are taught about the southern tablelands of St. Philip, the central highlands of St. Thomas, the Scotland District of St. Andrew, the St. George Valley and the western coral terraces of St. James. It is even maintained that the Bajan accent varies from parish to parish. These are characteristics one would more expect from a big country not a small island. Barbados is full of nice surprises. We suggest that you get in a car and do some exploring. You’ll always find something interesting just around the corner.
Driving in Barbados
If you wish to drive on your own, there are several car rentals in Barbados, but take care, because they drive on the left (English system). Drivers must have a local Driver’s Permit which can be obtained from most car rental offices or from any local Polica Station for BDS$10. They are valid for one year from date of issue. Seat belts are compulsory and drivers incur a hefty fine if caught with passangers not using seat belts.
Visitors to the island are easily identifiable on the road by the ’H’ number plate.
In built up areas or the city – 40 km/h
Rural areas outside the city – 60 km/h
ABC Highway – 80 km/h
When making your way around the island, look out for the new black and white signs that identify the islands’ districts. They make the maps, which are based on place names, more functional.
Getting Around Barbados
A good network of roads and a reliable transport system ensures that all areas of Barbados are easily accessible through the Barbados Transport Board and private operators who operate minibuses and route taxi services.
The Barbados Transport Board (BTB) which is a government-owned public transport system, proved a regular scheduled bus service to all parts of the island. BTB buses are painted blue and yellow and bus fare is BDS$1.50 per ride and it is advisable to have exact change when boarding. BTB terminals are located at Fairchild Street and Lower Green in Bridgetown and at Speightstown.
The Minibus system is a privately operated system, plying selected routes. Buses are painted bright yellow with a blue stripe. Bus fare is BDS$1.50 per ride. Bus destinations are usually displayed on the bottom left-hand corner of the windscreen.
Please be advised of set fares, as taxis do not have meters.
Barbados is surrounded by over 70 miles of glorious, palm-fringed, white sand beaches, warm, sparkling clear waters in just about every shade of blue imaginable, and a year-round climate that is as close to perfection as you can get. The island is naturally blessed with all the ingredients to make everyone’s dream of that idyllic tropical vacation a reality. Barbados law stipulates that all beaches are public and the island beasts some of the finest in the southern Caribbean. Due to natural cycles of erosion, some beaches have come and gone over the years. Recently, the Barbados government has embarked on an islandwide beach conservation project to stabilize the island’s vital assets for the enjoyment of all in the future. Don’t forget to take along your sunscreen and please remember, topless sunbathing is against the law in Barbados!
The hurricane season in the Caribbean area begins June 1st and ends November 30th each year.
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