Set on the easternmost boundary of the Caribbean islands, Barbados boasts beautiful white-and pink-sand beaches that draw sun-and sea-worshipers from around the world. The rougher waters off the Atlantic coast attract surfers to Bathsheba, while the calmer, Caribbean coast attracts the leisurely sunbathers. The capital city, Bridgetown, welcomes nearly half a million cruise-ship passengers each year. Barbados' subtropical climate hovers around the 80-degree mark year-round.

Although a proudly independent country for more than 40 years, Barbados spent more than 300 years under the British flag; previously often referred to as "Little England," it's the only Caribbean island whose colonial history has been entirely British. As a result, English traditions, from afternoon tea to the national sport of cricket, still abound here. Yet the island nation also embraces a rich West Indian and African cultural tradition that evolved from its years in the slave trade.

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