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Barbados has low, rolling hills, and microclimate variations from rain forest to semidesert. More than 260,000 people live on this island of 166 square miles (430 square kilometers), with a population density of 1,548 people per square mile (597.7 per square kilometer) in 1996.

Large populations have characterized the nation almost since its inception.

The remaining 20 percent live in rural areas in settlements that vary from dispersed homes and occasional plantations to small nucleated villages. Coocoo (a creamy blend of cornmeal and okra) and flying fish is the national dish.

Breaded and fried flying fish is a popular snack or meal.

Regional, race, and class cultural variants exist, but all residents identify with the national culture. About 80% of all Barbadians are the descendants of former African slaves.

Barbados also has a high proportion of citizens with a largely European ancestry. About 80 percent of the population lives in or around the capital, Bridgetown.

Barbadians emigrated in large numbers to the United Kingdom and in smaller numbers to the United States and Canada.

Death rates and birth rates fell rapidly after 1960.

The vote, which until the late nineteenth century had been restricted to propertied white males, was made universal in 1943.