Central America and Caribbean :: Bahamas, The
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Bahamas, The
Map of Bahamas, The
Introduction ::Bahamas, The
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 ::Bahamas, The
Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba
Geographic coordinates:
24 15 N, 76 00 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 13,880 sq km
country comparison to the world: 160
land: 10,010 sq km
water: 3,870 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
3,542 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Current Weather
tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream
long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Alvernia, on Cat Island 63 m
Natural resources:
salt, aragonite, timber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 0.58%
permanent crops: 0.29%
other: 99.13% (2005)
Irrigated land:
10 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
Natural hazards:
hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage
Environment - current issues:
coral reef decay; solid waste disposal
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
Geography - note:
strategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain of which 30 are inhabited
People ::Bahamas, The
country comparison to the world: 177
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 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.9% (male 39,169/female 38,043)
15-64 years: 69% (male 105,384/female 108,808)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 7,277/female 11,745) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 29.9 years
male: 28.8 years
female: 31 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.935% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
Birth rate:
16.25 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
Death rate:
6.89 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
urban population: 84% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.68 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 129
male: 13.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.84 years
country comparison to the world: 142
male: 68.48 years
female: 73.27 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
3% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
6,200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian
Ethnic groups:
black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%
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)
English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.6%
male: 94.7%
female: 96.5% (2003 est.)
Education expenditures:
3.6% of GDP (2000)
country comparison to the world: 125
Government ::Bahamas, The
Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
conventional short form: The Bahamas
Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
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
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
10 July 1973 (from the UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 10 July (1973)
10 July 1973
Legal system:
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sir Arthur A. FOULKES (since 14 April 2010)
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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: the monarchy 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
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 on 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
Judicial branch:
Privy Council in London; Courts of Appeal; Supreme (lower) Court; Magistrates' Courts
Political parties and leaders:
Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert INGRAHAM]; Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Friends of the Environment
other: trade unions
International organization participation:
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
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nicole A. AVANT
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
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of aquamarine (top), gold, and aquamarine, with a black equilateral triangle based on the hoist side; the band colors represent the golden beaches of the islands surrounded by the aquamarine sea; black represents the vigor and force of a united people, while the pointing triangle indicates the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop the rich resources of land and sea
Economy ::Bahamas, The
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. Prior to 2006, a steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences led to solid GDP growth but since then tourism receipts have begun to drop off. The global recession in 2009 took a sizeable toll on the Bahamas, resulting in a contraction in GDP and a widening budget deficit. The outlook for 2010 is for slightly positive growth as tourism from the US returns, but sector investment is not expected to substantially increase. 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, the financial sector currently is smaller than it has been in the past because of the enactment of new and more strict financial regulations in 2000 that caused many international businesses to relocate elsewhere. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$9.084 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
$9.462 billion (2008 est.)
$9.606 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$7.49 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177
-1.5% (2008 est.)
2.8% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$29,800 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
$31,100 (2008 est.)
$31,800 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 14.7%
services: 84.1% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
184,000 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 173
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 5%
tourism: 50%
other services: 40% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate:
7.6% (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
Population below poverty line:
9.3% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: 27% (2000)
revenues: $1.03 billion
expenditures: $1.03 billion (FY04/05)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.4% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
Central bank discount rate:
5.25% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 80
5.25% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
5.5% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 144
5.5% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$1.255 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 105
$1.274 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$4.637 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 86
$4.324 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$7.883 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 83
$7.395 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
citrus, vegetables; poultry
tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
2.045 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
Electricity - consumption:
1.902 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
Oil - consumption:
36,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
Oil - exports:
transshipments of 41,570 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
Oil - imports:
20,560 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 202
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 201
Natural gas - proved reserves:
NA cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
Current account balance:
-$283.2 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
-$1.442 billion (2007 est.)
$674 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 162
Exports - commodities:
mineral products and salt, animal products, rum, chemicals, fruit and vegetables
Exports - partners:
US 35.99%, Singapore 18.64%, Poland 12.1%, Germany 6.24% (2009)
$2.401 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 146
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals
Imports - partners:
US 27.23%, South Korea 20.08%, Japan 14.55%, Singapore 5.89%, China 4.75%, Venezuela 4.26%, Italy 4.12% (2009)
Debt - external:
$342.6 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
Exchange rates:
Bahamian dollars (BSD) per US dollar - 1 (2009), 1 (2008), 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005)
Communications ::Bahamas, The
Telephones - main lines in use:
133,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 138
Telephones - mobile cellular:
358,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 164
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)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 0 (2009)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2006)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
8,325 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 122
Internet users:
106,500 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 151
Transportation ::Bahamas, The
62 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 79
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 23
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 39
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 22 (2009)
1 (2009)
total: 2,717 km
country comparison to the world: 168
paved: 1,560 km
unpaved: 1,157 km (2002)
Merchant marine:
total: 1,223
country comparison to the world: 6
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)
Ports and terminals:
Freeport, Nassau, South Riding Point
Military ::Bahamas, The
Military branches:
Royal Bahamian Defense Force: Land Force, Navy, Air Wing (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 84,903 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 62,779
females age 16-49: 63,954 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 2,840
female: 2,758 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.7% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 152
Transnational Issues ::Bahamas, The
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

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)