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Barbados - Geography

Unlike the majority of the Lesser Antilles, Barbardos is mainly level, without good harbors, and indefensible as a military station. The conformation of the surface renders every part suitable for cultivation. Only 6,470 acres, or 6 percent, are returned as rocky or useless land.

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. 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 a comparatively flat island, rising in a series of terraced tablelands to Mount Hillaby at 336m. The northeast (Scotland area) is broken, eroded and rocky. The rest of the island is coral limestone crossed with deep river-bed gullies which fill with water during heavy rain. There are no permanent rivers. On the east coast, much of the shoreline is rocky, pounded by a strong surf; elsewhere, natural coral reefs surround turquoise seas and beaches of white sand.

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.

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.





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