Geography

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Barbados is the easternmost island of the Lesser Antilles, situated 480 kilometers north of Guyana, 160 kilometers east of St. Vincent, and 965 kilometers southeast of Puerto Rico. This isolated pear-shaped island extends for 34 kilometers along a north-south axis and has a maximum breadth of 23 kilometers, giving it a total land area of 430 square kilometers (about the size of San Antonio, Texas, or half the size of New York City).

Barbados is fringed with coral reefs. The island itself is characterized by lowlands or gently sloping, terraced plains, separated by rolling hills that generally parallel the coasts. Elevations in the interior range from 180 to 240 meters above sea level. Mount Hillaby is the highest point at 340 meters above sea level. Farther south, at Christ Church Ridge, elevations range from sixty to ninety meters.

Eighty-five percent of the island's surface consists of coralline limestone twenty-four to thirty meters thick; Scotland District contains outcroppings of oceanic formations at the surface, however. Sugarcane is planted on almost 80 percent of the island's limestone surface. The soils vary in fertility; erosion is a problem, with crop loss resulting from landslides, washouts, and falling rocks. Most of the small streams are in Scotland District. The rest of the island has few surface streams; nevertheless, rainwater saturates the soil to produce underground channels such as the famous Coles Cave.

Barbados lies within the tropics. Its generally pleasant maritime climate is influenced by northeast trade winds, which moderate the tropical temperature. Cool, northeasterly trade winds are prevalent during the December to June dry season. The overall annual temperature ranges from 24C to 28C; slightly lower temperatures prevail at higher elevations. Humidity levels are between 71 percent and 76 percent year round. Rainfall occurs primarily between July and December and varies considerably with elevation. Rainfall may average 187.5 centimeters per year in the higher central area as compared with 127.5 centimeters in the coastal zone.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress