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 (see fig. 1).
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 (see fig. 13).
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 24°C to 28°C; 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
Data as of November 1987