Barbados (i/bɑrˈbeɪdɒs/ or /bɑrˈbeɪdoʊs/) is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and up to 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 431 square kilometres (166 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 kilometres (104 mi) east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and 400 kilometres (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.
Barbados was initially visited by the Spanish around the late 1400s to early 1500s and first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Spanish explorers may have plundered the island of whatever native peoples' resided therein to become slaves. The Portuguese visited in 1536, but they too left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England and it became an English and later British colony.
Barbados has an estimated population of 284,000 people, with around 80,000 living in or around Bridgetown, the largest city and the country's capital. In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Barbados is one of the Caribbean's leading tourist destinations and is one of the most developed islands in the region, despite it actually being classed as an Atlantic Island, with an HDI number of 0.825. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (16th globally) on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, behind Canada.
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