Barbados, Population, Education, and Cultural Activity
The population of Barbados (2002 estimate) is 276,607. The average population density of 643 persons per sq km (1,666 per sq mi) is notably high considering the predominantly rural agricultural character of the island. The annual growth rate of the population during the 1970s and 1980s was kept below 1 percent by out-migration. By the beginning of the 21st century, the population of Barbados had stabilized. The capital, largest city, and only seaport is Bridgetown, with a population (1995 estimate) of 123,000.
About 90 percent of the total population is black; the remaining portion is composed of whites and persons of mixed racial descent. English is the official language. More than 50 percent of the people are Anglicans; other important faiths include various Protestant sects and Roman Catholicism.
Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 16. In the 1998-1999 school year 24,729 pupils were enrolled in primary schools. A campus of the University of the West Indies was established at Bridgetown in 1963.
The culture of Barbados combines English institutions, which evolved through more than three centuries of English rule, with a folk culture of African origin. The music and dances of Barbados reflect more purely the African heritage. The island has a museum and public library in Bridgetown and 2 daily newspapers.