In recent years, Barbados has seen economic growth and lower inflation. The economy is based on tourism, financial services, manufacturing, construction and information services such as data entry. About 75% of the labour force works in the service industry, 15% in manufacturing and 10% in agriculture. Although the unemployment rate is over 10%, the proportion of Bajans living below the poverty line is small in comparison with other developing countries.

The Barbados economy used to depend on sugar cane cultivation and related activities, such as the production of rum and molasses. Sugar remains the main agricultural product, although in recent years the number of canefields has decreased to make way for other crops, such as cotton and vegetables. Barbados also grows flowers for export, including anthuriums, ginger lilies, tuberoses, orchids and birds of paradise.

Tourism is the fastest-growing business in Barbados and the most significant industry. It provides employment to the largest proportion of the work force. Tourism is followed closely by international business services and technology-based industries.

Many small factories manufacture goods for local consumption and for export to international markets. These factories produce food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, detergents, plastic products, electrical equipment, paint and beer. A small refinery supplies most of the island's fuel requirements. Fishing for local consumption and export also contributes to family incomes and the general economy.

   Did you know?
In the 17th century, people who were deemed to be enemies of the British crown were sent to Barbados as indentured servants. This practice was so widespread that punishment was sometimes described as "being Barbadoed."
Barbados has a deep-water harbour and a good airport, which support tourism and international business. The government encourages foreign companies to invest in businesses that employ local citizens.