Commonwealth of The Bahamas

Also Known As: The place where worlds meet
Motto: Forward, Upward, Onward Together

History 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.

Geography  
Location: Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba
 
Geographic coordinates: 24 15 N, 76 00 W
Area: total: 13,880 sq km
land: 10,010 sq km
water: 3,870 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 3,542 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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, arable land
Land use: arable land: 0.58%
permanent crops: 0.29%
other: 99.13% (2005)
Natural hazards: hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage
Environment - current issues: coral reef decay; solid waste disposal
Geography - note: strategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain of which 30 are inhabited

People  
Population: 309,156 (July 2009 est)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.9% (male 40,085/female 39,959)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 102,154/female 105,482)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 8,772/female 12,704) (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.536% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 16.81 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate: 9.32 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 84% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 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 (2009 est.)
Nationality: noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian
Ethnic groups: black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%
Religions: 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)
Languages: English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)

Government  
Country Name: Conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Conventional short form: The Bahamas
Government type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Capital: Name: 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, Nichollstown and Berry Islands, Ragged Island, Rock Sound, Sandy Point, San Salvador, and Rum Cay
Independence: 10 July 1973 (from the UK)
National holidays: New Year's Day (01 January); Good Friday; Easter Monday; Whit Monday; Labour Day (02 June); Independence Day (10 July); Emancipation Day (04 August); Discovery Day (12 October); Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December) Holidays that fall on Saturday or Sunday are observed on the following Monday
Constitution: 10 July 1973
Legal system: based on English common law
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
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
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]
International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITSO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
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 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
CARICOM Membership: 4 July 1983
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  
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, resort 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $9.093 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -1.5% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $29,600 (2008 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3%
industry: 7%
services: 90% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 175,500 (2007)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 5%, industry 5%, tourism 50%, other services 40% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.6% (2006 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.03 billion
expenditures: $1.03 billion (FY04/05)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.4% (2007 est.)
Agriculture-products: citrus, vegetables; poultry
Industries: tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe
Total Exports: $674 million (2006)
Export Commodities: mineral products and salt, animal products, rum, chemicals, fruit and vegetables
Exports - Partners: US 20.8%, Singapore 18.2%, Poland 17.5%, Germany 7.3%, Japan 7.2%, Guatemala 5.5%, Switzerland 4.7% (2008)
Total Imports: $2.401 billion (2006)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals
Imports - partners: US 27.1%, Japan 17.8%, South Korea 14.7%, Singapore 7.9%, Venezuela 5.4% (2008)
Exchange rates: Bahamian dollars (BSD) per US dollar - 1 (2008 est.), 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005), 1 (2004)
Business Hours: Commercial: 09:00 hrs-17:00 hrs Monday to Saturday. Shops close on Thursday afternoons and open on selected Sundays to accommodate cruise ship visits. Government: 09:00 hrs-17:30 hrs Monday to Friday
Language: English

Communications  
Telephones Main lines in use: 132.900 (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 374,000 (2007)
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 5, shortwave 0 (2006)
Television broadcast stations: 2 (2006)
Internet country code: .bs
Internet hosts: 41 (2008)
Internet users: 120,000 (2007)
Transportation:  
Airports: 62 (2009);2 Main airports: Nassau International (New Providence) and Freeport (Grand Bahama)
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)
Heliports: 1 (2009)
Roadways: total: 2,717 km
paved: 1,560 km
unpaved: 1,157 km (2002)
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)
Ports and terminals: Freeport, Nassau, South Riding Point

Military Royal Bahamian Defense Force: Land Force, Navy, Air Wing (2009)
  Main Source of Information: the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

Items of Interest  
National Anthem: March on Bahamaland

Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
March on to glory, your bright banners waving high.
See how the world marks the manner of your bearing!
Pledge to excel thro' love and unity.
Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal;
Steady sunward, tho' the weather hide the wide and treach'rous shoal
Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
'Til the road you've trod lead unto your God, MARCH ON, BAHAMALAND!

(Words and music by Timothy Gibson)

Highest National Award: Governor General Award
Favourite Dish: Steamed Conch 'n Tomato Paste
Government Web page: http://www.bahamas.gov.bs