Barbados, situated just east of the Caribbean Sea, is a West Indian continental island-nation in the western Atlantic Ocean. After a brief claim by Spain in 1492 and later Portugal, Barbados became a colony and protectorate of the United Kingdom for over three centuries. The country currently maintains Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Located at roughly 13° North of the equator and 59° West of the prime meridian, it is considered a part of the Lesser Antilles. Its closest island neighbours are Martinique, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines to the west. To the south lies Trinidad and Tobago – with which Barbados now shares a fixed official maritime boundary – and also the South American mainland. Barbados’s total land area is about 430 square kilometres (166 square miles), and is primarily low-lying, with some higher in the country’s interior. The highest point in Barbados is Mount Hillaby in the parish of Saint Andrew.
The geological composition of Barbados is of non-volcanic origin, predominantly limestone-coral. After the break of South America from Africa in the Mesozoic, a reef formed. During the Cenozoic, as both the Caribbean and South American plates moved westward, the two plates impacted and pressed this reef upward. Barbados is part of a North Atlantic Ocean submarine mountain range located to the east of the Windward Islands. This range stretches from its close proximity of Puerto Rico in the north, to a south-easterly direction toward Venezuela. The island of Barbados forms the only part of this mountain range that rises above sea level.
The island’s climate is tropical, with constant trade winds off the Atlantic Ocean serving to keep temperatures mild. Some less developed areas of the country contain tropical woodland and mangroves. Other parts of the interior which contribute to the agriculture industry are dotted with large sugarcane estates and wide, gently sloping pastures, with panoramic views down to the coast also.