Barbados, or Barbadoes, an island in the British West Indies. It lies 78 m. E. of St Vincent, in 13° 4′ N. and 59° 37′ W.; is 21 m. long, 14&FRAC12; m. at its broadest, and 166 sq. m. (106,470 acres) in extent (roughly equalling the Isle of Wight). Its coasts are encircled with coral reefs, extending in some places 3 m. seaward. In its configuration the island is elevated but not mountainous. Near the centre is its apex, Mount Hillaby (1100 ft.), from which the land falls on all sides in a series of terraces to the sea. So gentle is the incline of the hills that in driving over the well-constructed roads the ascent is scarcely noticeable. The only natural harbour is Carlisle Bay on the south-western coast, which, however, is little better than a shallow roadstead, only accessible to light draught vessels.
The oldest rocks of Barbados, known as the Scotland series, are of shallow water origin, consisting of coarse grits, brown sandstones and sandy clays, in places saturated with petroleum and traversed by veins of manjak. They have been folded and denuded, so as to form the foundation on which rest the later beds of the island. Upon the denuded edges of the Scotland beds lies the Oceanic series. It includes chalky limestones, siliceous earths, red clay, and, at the top, a layer of mudstone composed mainly of volcanic dust. The limestones contain Globigerina and other Foraminifera, the siliceous beds are made of Radiolaria, sponge spicules and diatoms, while the red clay closely resembles the red clay of the deepest parts of the oceans. There can be no doubt that the whole series was laid down in deep waters. The Oceanic series is generally overlaid directly, and unconformably, by coral limestones; but at Bissex Hill, at the base of the coral limestones, and resting unconformably upon the Oceanic series, there is a Globigerina marl. The Coral Limestone series lies indifferently upon the older beds.
Although of no great thickness it covers six-sevenths of the island, rising in a series of steps or platforms to a height of nearly 1100 ft.
Even the Scotland series probably belongs to the Tertiary system, but owing to the want of characteristic fossils, it is impossible to determine with any degree of certainty the precise homotaxis of the several formations. Jukes-Browne and Harrison ascribe the Scotland beds to the Eocene or Oligocene period, the Oceanic series to the Miocene, the Bissex Hill marls to the Pliocene, and the coral limestones partly to the Pliocene and partly to the Pleistocene. But these correlations rest upon imperfect evidence.
Sandstone, and clays suitable for brick-making, are found in the district of Scotland, so called from a fancied resemblance to the Highlands of North Britain. The only other mineral product is manjak, a species of asphalt, also found in this district and to some extent exported.
Climate, &c. - The climate of Barbados is pleasant. The seasons are divided into wet and dry, the latter (extending from December to the end of May) being also the cold season. The temperature ranges from 70° F. to 86° F., rarely, even on the coldest days, falling below 65° F. The average annual rainfall is about 60 in., September being the wettest month. For eight months the invigorating N.E. trade winds temper the tropical heat. The absence of swamps, the porous nature of the soil, and the extent of cultivation account for the freedom of the island from miasma. Fever is unknown. The climate has a beneficial effect on pulmonary diseases, especially in their earlier stages, and is remarkable in arresting the decay of vital power consequent upon old age. Leprosy occurs amongst the negroes, and elephantiasis is so frequent as to be known as "Barbados leg."