You Are At: AllSands Home > Travel > Places > The Bahamas Islands

Location: Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida

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

Coastline: 3,542 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream

Terrain: 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

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 32%
other: 67% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

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

—current issues: coral reef decay; solid waste disposal

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, 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


Population: 283,705 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 27% (male 39,271; female 38,740)
15-64 years: 67% (male 92,830; female 96,814)
65 years and over: 6% (male 6,696; female 9,354) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.36% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 20.58 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 5.43 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.55 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 18.38 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.25 years
male: 70.94 years
female: 77.64 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.31 children born/woman (1999 est.)

noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian

Ethnic groups: black 85%, white 15%

Religions: Baptist 32%, Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 19%, Methodist 6%, Church of God 6%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2%

Languages: English, Creole (among Haitian immigrants)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.2%
male: 98.5%
female: 98% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
conventional short form: The Bahamas

Data code: BF

Government type: commonwealth

Capital: Nassau

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, Nicholls Town and Berry Islands, Ragged Island, Rock Sound, Sandy Point, San Salvador and Rum Cay

Independence: 10 July 1973 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 10 July (1973)

Constitution: 10 July 1973

Legal system: based on English common law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Orville TURNQUEST (since 2 January 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Hubert Alexander INGRAHAM (since 19 August 1992) and Deputy Prime Minister Frank WATSON (since December 1994)
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; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general

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 a five-year term) and the House of Assembly (40 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 14 March 1997 (next to be held by March 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—FNM 35, PLP 5

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

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

International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

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

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Arthur SCHECHTER
embassy: Queen Street, Nassau
mailing address: local or express mail address: P.O. Box N-8197, Nassau; stateside address: American Embassy Nassau, P.O. Box 599009, Miami, FL 33159-9009; pouch address: Nassau, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-3370
telephone: [1] (242) 322-1181
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—overview: The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs 40% of the archipelago's labor force. Moderate growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences led to an increase of the country's GDP by an estimated 4% in 1998. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute less than 10% of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run will depend heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector and continued income growth in the US, which accounts for the majority of tourist visitors.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$5.63 billion (1998 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4% (1998 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$20,100 (1998 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 5%
services: 92% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.4% (1997)

Labor force: 148,000 (1996)

Labor force—by occupation: government 30%, tourism 40%, business services 10%, agriculture 5% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: 9% (1998 est.)

revenues: $766 million
expenditures: $845 million, including capital expenditures of $97 million (FY97/98)

Industries: tourism, banking, cement, oil refining and transshipment, salt production, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—production: 1 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1996)

Electricity—consumption: 1 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

Agriculture—products: citrus, vegetables; poultry

Exports: $300 million (1998)

Exports—commodities: pharmaceuticals, cement, rum, crawfish, refined petroleum products

Exports—partners: US 24.5%, EU (excluding UK) 23.9%, UK 12.6%, Singapore 5.6% (1997)

Imports: $1.37 billion (1998)

Imports—commodities: foodstuffs, manufactured goods, crude oil, vehicles, electronics

Imports—partners: US 34.9%, EU 24.3%, Japan 15.5%, Russia 6.3% (1997)

Debt—external: $381.7 million (1997)

Economic aid—recipient: $9.8 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Bahamian dollar (B$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Bahamian dollar (B$) per US$1—1.000 (fixed rate pegged to the dollar)

Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June


Telephones: 200,000 (1997 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: 91,183 telephone subscribers; totally automatic system; highly developed
international: tropospheric scatter and submarine cable to Florida; 3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: 200,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Televisions: 60,000 (1993 est.)


Railways: 0 km

total: 2,693 km
paved: 1,546 km
unpaved: 1,147 km (1997 est.)

Ports and harbors: Freeport, Matthew Town, Nassau

Merchant marine:
total: 1,079 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 26,631,924 GRT/41,196,326 DWT
ships by type: bulk 209, cargo 241, chemical tanker 43, combination bulk 13, combination ore/oil 22, container 61, liquefied gas tanker 34, livestock carrier 1, oil tanker 170, passenger 62, passenger-cargo 1, railcar carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 140, roll-on/roll-off cargo 48, short-sea passenger 12, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 19
note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 49 countries among which are Norway 177, Greece 141, UK 113, US 61, Denmark 39, Finland 27, Japan 25, Sweden 24, France 22, and Italy 22 (1998 est.)

Airports: 62 (1998 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 33
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 2 (1998 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 21 (1998 est.)


Military branches: Royal Bahamas Defense Force (Coast Guard only), Royal Bahamas Police Force

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $20 million (FY95/96)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

Disputes—international: none

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; banking industry vulnerable to money laundering