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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Bahamas, The
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 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: 13,940 sq km
land: 10,070 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
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)
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
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.5% (male 41,799/female 41,733)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 98,847/female 102,074)
65 years and over: 6.4% (male 7,891/female 11,426) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.8 years
male: 27.1 years
female: 28.6 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.64% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
17.57 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
9.05 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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 (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.68 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 30.29 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.6 years
male: 62.24 years
female: 69.03 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.18 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
3% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5,600 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 est.)
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.)
Government Bahamas, The
Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
conventional short form: The Bahamas
Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy
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 first Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in October
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 UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 10 July (1973)
10 July 1973
Legal system:
based on English common law
18 years of age; universal
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 Perry CHRISTIE (since 3 May 2002) and Deputy Prime Minister Cynthia PRATT (since 7 May 2002)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the prime minister's recommendation
elections: none; 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
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (16-member body appointed by the governor general upon the advice of the prime minister and the opposition leader for five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (40 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 1 May 2002 (next to be held by May 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - PLP 50.8%, FNM 41.1%, independents 5.2%; seats by party - PLP 29, FNM 7, independents 4
Judicial branch:
Privy Council (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:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: vacant
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 John D. ROOD
embassy: 42 Queen Street, Nassau
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) 356-0222
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of aquamarine (top), gold, and aquamarine, with a black equilateral triangle based on the hoist side
Economy Bahamas, The
Economy - overview:
The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation 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 the slowdown in the US economy and the attacks of 11 September 2001 held back growth in these sectors in 2001-03. The current government has presided over a period of economic recovery and an upturn in large-scale private sector investments in tourism. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% 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 together 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, which depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$6.476 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$6.159 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$21,300 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 7%
services: 90% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
176,300 (2004)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 5%, industry 5%, tourism 50%, other services 5% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10.2% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line:
9.3% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: 27%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.2% (2004)
revenues: $1.03 billion
expenditures: $1.03 billion; including capital expenditures of $130 million (FY04/05)
Agriculture - products:
citrus, vegetables; poultry
tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
1.795 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
1.669 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - consumption:
27,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
transhipments of 29,000 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
$469.3 million (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
mineral products and salt, animal products, rum, chemicals, fruit and vegetables
Exports - partners:
Spain 31.8%, US 30%, Poland 9%, Germany 5.4% (2005)
$1.82 billion (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals
Imports - partners:
US 20.1%, South Korea 18%, Brazil 16.9%, Spain 7%, Italy 5.8%, Germany 4.8% (2005)
Debt - external:
$342.6 million (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$5 million (2004)
Currency (code):
Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Bahamian dollars per US dollar - 1 (2005), 1 (2004), 1 (2003), 1 (2002)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Bahamas, The
Telephones - main lines in use:
139,900 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
186,000 (2004)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern facilities
domestic: totally automatic system; highly developed
international: country code - 1-242; tropospheric scatter and submarine cable to Florida; 3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth station - 2 (2005)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 5, shortwave 0 (2006)
215,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2006)
67,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
591 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)
Internet users:
93,000 (2005)
Transportation Bahamas, The
64 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 29
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 35
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 22 (2006)
1 (2006)
total: 2,693 km
paved: 1,546 km
unpaved: 1,147 km (1999)
Merchant marine:
total: 1,177 ships (1000 GRT or over) 37,743,270 GRT/50,918,747 DWT
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 253, cargo 250, chemical tanker 64, container 79, liquefied gas 35, livestock carrier 2, passenger 115, passenger/cargo 34, petroleum tanker 175, refrigerated cargo 114, roll on/roll off 20, specialized tanker 5, vehicle carrier 30
foreign-owned: 1,093 (Angola 5, Australia 2, Belgium 13, Canada 18, China 3, Cuba 1, Cyprus 13, Denmark 59, Estonia 1, Finland 8, France 37, Germany 22, Greece 232, Hong Kong 8, Iceland 1, India 1, Indonesia 4, Ireland 2, Israel 1, Italy 5, Japan 51, Jordan 2, Kenya 1, Latvia 1, Malaysia 12, Monaco 17, Montenegro 2, Netherlands 24, Nigeria 2, Norway 259, Philippines 1, Poland 15, Reunion 1, Russia 6, Saudi Arabia 12, Singapore 12, Slovenia 1, Spain 12, Sweden 6, Switzerland 2, Thailand 1, Turkey 8, UAE 16, UK 69, Uruguay 2, US 121, Venezuela 1)
registered in other countries: 4 (Barbados 1, Liberia 1, Panama 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Freeport, Nassau, South Riding Point
Military Bahamas, The
Military branches:
Royal Bahamian Defense Force: Marines, Air Wing (2006)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 73,121 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 44,309 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 2,804 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Bahamas, The
Disputes - international:
disagrees with the US on the alignment of the maritime boundary; continues to monitor and interdict Haitian refugees fleeing economic privation and political instability
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; offshore financial center

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007