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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Bahamas, The
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Map of Bahamas, The
Introduction Bahamas, The
Arawak 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
Geographic coordinates:
24 15 N, 76 00 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 13,940 sq km
water: 3,870 sq km
land: 10,070 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
3,542 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 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: 0.6%
permanent crops: 0.4%
other: 99% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
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, 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 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 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29% (male 43,964; female 43,250)
15-64 years: 64.7% (male 95,508; female 98,859)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 7,948; female 11,000) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.86% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
18.69 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
7.49 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
17.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.87 years
female: 73.49 years (2002 est.)
male: 66.32 years
Total fertility rate:
2.28 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
4.13% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
6,900 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
500 (1999 est.)
noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian
Ethnic groups:
black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%
Baptist 32%, Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 19%, Methodist 6%, Church of God 6%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2%
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.)
Government Bahamas, The
Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
conventional short form: The Bahamas
Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy
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 Ivy DUMONT (since NA May 2002)
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)
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:
Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; magistrates courts
Political parties and leaders:
Free National Movement or FNM [Tommy TURNQUEST]; Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Joshua SEARS
consulate(s) general: Miami and New York
FAX: [1] (202) 319-2668
telephone: [1] (202) 319-2660
chancery: 2220 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador J. Richard BLANKENSHIP
embassy: 42 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, 328-2206
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 alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs almost half of the archipelago's labor force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences have led to solid GDP growth in recent years. 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 the majority of tourist visitors.
purchasing power parity - $5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.5% (2001)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $16,800 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 7%
services: 90% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
156,000 (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
tourism 40%, other services 50%, industry 5%, agriculture 5% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate:
6.9% (2001 est.)
revenues: $918.5 million
expenditures: $956.5 million, including capital expenditures of $106.7 million (FY99/00)
tourism, banking, cement, oil refining and transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
1.54 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
1.432 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
citrus, vegetables; poultry
$535.8 million (2000)
Exports - commodities:
fish and crawfish; rum, salt, chemicals; fruit and vegetables (1999)
Exports - partners:
US 28.2%, France 16.5%, Germany 14.1%, UK 12.4% (2000)
$1.88 billion (2000)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals (1999)
Imports - partners:
US 31.6%, South Korea 18.2%, Italy 17.4%, Japan 5.8% (2000)
Debt - external:
$381.9 million (2000)
Economic aid - recipient:
$9.8 million (1995)
Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Bahamian dollars per US dollar - 1.000 (fixed rate pegged to the dollar)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Bahamas, The
Telephones - main lines in use:
96,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
6,152 (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern facilities
domestic: totally automatic system; highly developed
international: tropospheric scatter and submarine cable to Florida; 3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (1997)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 0 (1998)
215,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (1997)
67,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)
Internet users:
16,900 (2002)
Transportation Bahamas, The
0 km
total: 2,693 km
paved: 1,546 km
unpaved: 1,147 km (1997)
Ports and harbors:
Freeport, Matthew Town, Nassau
Merchant marine:
total: 1,076 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 31,309,187 GRT/45,859,485 DWT
ships by type: bulk 159, cargo 246, chemical tanker 41, combination bulk 13, combination ore/oil 22, container 80, liquefied gas 28, livestock carrier 2, multi-functional large-load carrier 8, passenger 88, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 178, railcar carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 120, roll on/roll off 49, short-sea passenger 16, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 22
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Angola 1, Argentina 1, Australia 4, Belgium 18, Bermuda 1, Canada 5, Chile 1, China 3, Croatia 2, Cuba 3, Cyprus 2, Denmark 27, Ecuador 1, Estonia 2, Finland 9, France 15, Germany 26, Greece 173, Hong Kong 6, India 2, Indonesia 2, Ireland 1, Israel 3, Italy 9, Jamaica 1, Japan 32, Kenya 3, Malaysia 10, Malta 2, Monaco 67, Netherlands 32, New Zealand 2, Norway 237, Panama 2, Philippines 3, Poland 13, Reunion 1, Russia 6, Saudi Arabia 9, Singapore 13, Slovenia 1, South Korea 2, Spain 7, Sweden 12, Switzerland 8, Thailand 1, Trinidad and Tobago 2, Turkey 2, Ukraine 2, United Arab Emirates 10, United Kingdom 107, United States 159, Uruguay 1 (2002 est.)
67 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 30
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 34 35
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 3 23 (2002)
1 (2002)
Military Bahamas, The
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:
0.7% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Bahamas, The
Disputes - international:
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; offshore financial center

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003