Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometers (21 mi) in length and up to 23 kilometers (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 square kilometers (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometers (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 kilometers (104 mi) east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 kilometers (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.
Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.
In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. It has a population of 277,821 people, mostly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is ranked as a leading tourist destination. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (after Canada) and 16th globally on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.
Barbados is known for its September Celebrations, and is the birthplace of chewing gum and punta music.