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  Introduction Back To Top

Lucayan Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher COLUMBUS first set foot in the New World on San Salvador in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. Because of its geography, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US and Europe, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US.

  Geography Back To Top

Total renewable water resources:

Land boundaries:
0 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
24 15 N, 76 00 W

Natural resources:
salt, aragonite, timber, arable land

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Alvernia, on Cat Island 63 m

long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills

Geography - note:
strategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain of which 30 are inhabited

total: 13,940 sq km
land: 10,070 sq km
water: 3,870 sq km

Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba

3,542 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut

Irrigated land:
10 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
coral reef decay; solid waste disposal

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage

Land use:
arable land: 0.58%
permanent crops: 0.29%
other: 99.13% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
3% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5,600 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.72 years
male: 62.5 years
female: 69 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.6%
male: 94.7%
female: 96.5% (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:
-2.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%

Median age:
total: 28.4 years
male: 27.6 years
female: 29.2 years (2008 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
3.6% of GDP (2000)

Population growth rate:
0.57% (2008 est.)

English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)

Death rate:
9.22 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 23.67 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28.89 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.4% (male 40,608/female 40,506)
15-64 years: 66.9% (male 101,150/female 104,457)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 8,472/female 12,258) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
17.06 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Baptist 35.4%, Anglican 15.1%, Roman Catholic 13.5%, Pentecostal 8.1%, Church of God 4.8%, Methodist 4.2%, other Christian 15.2%, none or unspecified 2.9%, other 0.8% (2000 census)

noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ned L. SIEGEL
embassy: 42 Queen Street, Nassau, New Providence
mailing address: local or express mail address: P. O. Box N-8197, Nassau; US Department of State, 3370 Nassau Place, Washington, DC 20521-3370
telephone: [1] (242) 322-1181, 328-2206 (after hours)
FAX: [1] (242) 328-2206

National holiday:
Independence Day, 10 July (1973)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Friends of the Environment
other: trade unions

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Cornelius A. SMITH
chancery: 2220 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 319-2660
FAX: [1] (202) 319-2668
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (16 seats; members appointed by the governor general upon the advice of the prime minister and the opposition leader to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (41 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms); the government may dissolve the Parliament and call elections at any time
elections: last held 2 May 2007 (next to be held by May 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - FNM 49.86%, PLP 47.02%; seats by party - FNM 23, PLP 18

Legal system:
based on English common law

Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of aquamarine (top), gold, and aquamarine, with a black equilateral triangle based on the hoist side

10 July 1973 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
conventional short form: The Bahamas

Political parties and leaders:
Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert INGRAHAM]; Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]

name: Nassau
geographic coordinates: 25 05 N, 77 21 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November

10 July 1973

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Arthur D. HANNA (since 1 February 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Hubert A. INGRAHAM (since 4 May 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the prime minister's recommendation
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister

Administrative divisions:
21 districts; Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Exuma, Freeport, Fresh Creek, Governor's Harbour, Green Turtle Cay, Harbour Island, High Rock, Inagua, Kemps Bay, Long Island, Marsh Harbour, Mayaguana, New Providence, Nichollstown and Berry Islands, Ragged Island, Rock Sound, Sandy Point, San Salvador and Rum Cay

Judicial branch:
Privy Council in London; Courts of Appeal; Supreme (lower) Court; Magistrates' Courts

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 20.4%, Singapore 15.5%, Spain 14.5%, Poland 14.3%, Germany 6.6%, Guatemala 5.7%, Switzerland 5.2% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
1.793 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
5.25% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$1.442 billion (2007 est.)

Debt - external:
$342.6 million (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:
7.6% (2006 est.)

Oil - exports:
transshipments of 38,740 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$29,900 (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$7.395 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$9.189 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$6.935 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
Bahamian dollars (BSD) per US dollar - 1 (2008 est.), 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005), 1 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
2.8% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$1.274 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
181,900 (2006)

Imports - partners:
US 26.7%, South Korea 14.1%, Japan 13.5%, Italy 7.5%, Singapore 5.2%, Venezuela 4.5%, Spain 4.3% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.4% (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 7%
services: 90% (2001 est.)

Oil - imports:
69,780 bbl/day (2005)

$674 million (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Bahamian dollar (BSD)

Economy - overview:
The Bahamas is one of the wealthiest Caribbean countries with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism together with tourism-driven construction and manufacturing accounts for approximately 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs half of the archipelago's labor force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences had led to solid GDP growth in recent years, but tourist arrivals have been on the decline since 2006 and will likely drop even further in 2009. Tourism, in turn, depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors. To help offset the effect of the global economic downturn, particularly on employment, the INGRAHAM administration plans to engage in infrastructure projects. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy and, when combined with business services, account for about 36% of GDP. However, since December 2000, when the government enacted new regulations on the financial sector, many international businesses have left The Bahamas. Manufacturing and agriculture combined contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals

tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
9.3% (2004)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
5.5% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$4.324 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
2.05 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$2.401 billion (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 5%, industry 5%, tourism 50%, other services 40% (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
26,830 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: 27% (2000)

Exports - commodities:
mineral products and salt, animal products, rum, chemicals, fruit and vegetables

Economic aid - recipient:
$4.78 million (2004)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $1.03 billion
expenditures: $1.03 billion (FY04/05)

Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
120,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
132,900 (2007)

67,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 5, shortwave 0 (2006)

215,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
374,000 (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
2 (2006)

Telephone system:
general assessment: modern facilities
domestic: totally automatic system; highly developed; the Bahamas Domestic Submarine Network links 14 of the islands and is designed to satisfy increasing demand for voice and broadband internet services
international: country code - 1-242; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber-optic submarine cable that provides links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)

Internet hosts:
41 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Freeport, Nassau, South Riding Point

1 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 1,223
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 210, cargo 226, carrier 2, chemical tanker 88, combination ore/oil 12, container 65, liquefied gas 77, passenger 109, passenger/cargo 35, petroleum tanker 209, refrigerated cargo 119, roll on/roll off 16, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 51
foreign-owned: 1,150 (Angola 6, Belgium 15, Bermuda 12, Brazil 2, Canada 84, China 10, Croatia 1, Cuba 1, Cyprus 25, Denmark 67, Finland 9, France 30, Germany 44, Greece 209, Hong Kong 30, Iceland 1, Indonesia 2, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 1, Italy 4, Japan 87, Jordan 2, Kenya 1, Malaysia 13, Monaco 15, Montenegro 2, Netherlands 9, Nigeria 2, Norway 189, Poland 17, Russia 4, Saudi Arabia 16, Singapore 17, Slovenia 1, South Africa 1, Spain 14, Sweden 4, Switzerland 1, Thailand 5, Trinidad and Tobago 1, Turkey 8, UAE 23, UK 56, US 106, Venezuela 1)
registered in other countries: 12 (Bolivia 1, Panama 9, Peru 1, Portugal 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 24
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2007)

total: 2,717 km
paved: 1,560 km
unpaved: 1,133 km (2002)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 38
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 22 (2007)

62 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 80,200 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 50,282 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Royal Bahamian Defense Force: Land Force, Navy, Air Wing (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 3,016
female: 3,024 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.5% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
disagrees with the US on the alignment the northern axis of a potential maritime boundary; continues to monitor and interdict drug dealers and Haitian and Cuban refugees in Bahamian waters

Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; offshore financial center

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