Official name: Barbados

Official name: Barbados

Population: About 265,000; more than 90 per cent are of African descent.

Size: The island covers an area of 294 square miles - which makes it about one seventieth the size of Belgium.

Best monument: St John's Church at Pothouse dates back to 1660 and contains the intriguing grave of Fernando Paleologus: according to his inscription, "descendant of ye last Christian emperors of Greece". Nearby is Hackleton's Cliff, where a locally celebrated outlaw committed suicide by riding his horse at full gallop over the top.

National dish: Fried flying fish are a speciality, and very tasty. Or try "pudding and souse": a huge dish of pickled breadfruit, black pudding, and pork. Wash it down with the obligatory bottle of rum.

Most famous citizens: Barbados has given us some of the world's greatest cricketers, most notably the prodigious all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers, born in Bridgetown in 1934, who for many years held the world record for the highest score in Test cricket (365 not out, against Pakistan, in 1957).

Best moment in history: Independence arrived for Barbados on 30 November 1966.

Worst moment in history: The crushing of the Bussa slave revolt of 1816, which resulted in almost 400 slaves losing their lives, either in battle with the West Indian Regiment or in public hangings afterwards. Of those who were not killed, 123 were subsequently exiled to remote Sierra Leone.

Essential accessories: Hangover cures for all those rum punches.

How not to behave: Not only is topless sunbathing and skimpiness in the streets forbidden, but so is any form of camouflage-printed clothing. No matter how loudly you protest that your baseball cap or ex-army trousers are fashion accessories, you'll be made to strip them off on arrival at the airport.