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Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Flag of the Bahamas Coat of Arms of the Bahamas
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: Forward Upward Onward Together
Anthem: March On, Bahamaland
Location of the Bahamas
Capital Nassau
24°4′ N 77°20′ W
Largest city Nassau
Official languages English
Government constitutional parliamentary democracy
Elizabeth II
Dame Ivy Dumont
Perry Christie
 - Date
From the United Kingdom
July 10, 1973
 • Total
 • Water (%)
13,940 km² (155th)
 • 2005 est.
 • 1990 census
 • Density
301,790 [1] (168th)
254,685 [2]
21/km² (152)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2005 estimate
5729 (147)
17,865 (41)
Currency Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
Internet TLD .bs
Calling code +1-242
^  Estimates for this country 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 growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an independent English-speaking nation in the West Indies. An archipelago of 700 islands and cays (which are small islands), the Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida in the United States, north of Cuba and the Caribbean, and west of the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.



Main article: History of the Bahamas

Christopher Columbus's first landfall in the New World in 1492 is believed to have been on the island of San Salvador (also called Watling's Island), in the southeastern Bahamas. He encountered Taino (also known as Lucayan) Amerindians and exchanged gifts with them.

Taino Indians from both northwestern Hispaniola and northeastern Cuba moved into the southern Bahamas about the 7th century AD and became the Lucayans. They appear to have settled the entire archipelago by the 12th century AD. There may have been as many as 40,000 Lucayaqns living in the Bahamas when Columbus arrived.

The Bahamian Lucayans were deported to Hispaniola as slaves, and within two decades Taino societies ceased to exist as a separate population due to forced labour, warfare, disease, emigration and outmarriage.

Some say the name 'Bahamas' derives from the Spanish for shallow sea - baja mar. Others trace it to the Lucayan word for Grand Bahama Island - ba-ha-ma, or 'large upper middle land'.

After the Lucayans were destroyed the Bahamian islands were deserted until the arrival of English settlers from Bermuda in 1650. Known as the Eleutherian Adventurers, these people established settlements on the island now called Eleuthera (from the Greek word for freedom).

The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, but remained sparsley settled until the newly indpendent United States expelled thousands of American tories and their slaves. Many of these British Loyalists were given compensatory land grants in Canada and the Bahamas. Some 8,000 loyalists and their slaves moved to the Bahamas in the late 1700s from New York, Florida and the Carolinas.

The British granted the islands internal self-government in 1964 and In 1973 Bahamians achieved full independence while remaining a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Since the 1950s, the Bahamian economy has been based on the twin pillars of tourism and financial services. Today, the country enjoys the third highest per capita income in the western hemisphere.


Main Article: Geography of the Bahamas

The Bahamas is an archipelago of some 700 islands and cays covering over 100,000 square miles of the Atlantic ocean between Florida and Hispaniola. The archipelago has a total land area of 5,382 square miles - about 20 per cent larger than Jamaica - and a population of some 310,000 concentrated on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.

The largest island is Andros Island. The Biminis are just 50 miles east of Florida. The island of Grand Bahama is home to the second largest city in the country, Freeport. The island of Abaco is to its east. The most southeastern island is Inagua. Other notable islands include Eleuthera, Cat Island, San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana. Nassau is the capital and largest city, located on New Providence. The islands have a subtropical climate, moderated by the Gulf Stream.


Main article: Politics of the Bahamas

Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of The Bahamas, which has remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. She is represented in the Bahamas by a Governor-General, appointed on the recommendation of the elected government. A multi-party democracy in the British tradition, the Bahamas has a bicameral parliament with an elected assembly and an appointed senate. The country is governed by a cabinet headed by a prime minister. Elections are held every five years.


Main article: Districts of the Bahamas


Main article: Economy of the Bahamas

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 labour 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 United States, the source of the majority of tourist visitors.


Main article: Demographics of the Bahamas

Most of the Bahamian population is black (85%); about 12% is white. The official language is English, spoken by virtually all inhabitants, though many speak a "patois" form of it. A small number of immigrants also speak Creole.

A heavily religious country, there are more places of worship per person in the Bahamas than any other nation in the world. Christianity is the main religion on the islands, with Baptists forming the largest denomination (about one third), followed by the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

A few people, especially in the southern and eastern islands, practice obeah, a spiritistic religion similar to voodoo. While well-known throughout the Bahamas, obeah is shunned by many people. Voodoo is practiced, but almost exclusively by immigrants from Haiti.


Main article: Culture of the Bahamas

Bahamanian culture is a hybrid of African, European and indigenous forms. Perhaps its most famous export is a rhythmic form of music called junkanoo.

See also: Music of the Bahamas


The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew hit the northern islands in 1992, and Hurricane Floyd hit most of the islands in 1999. Hurricane Frances of 2004 was expected to be the worst ever for the islands. Also in 2004, the northern Bahamas were hit by a less potent Hurricane Jeanne.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Look up Bahamas on Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Countries in the Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago

Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Navassa Island | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Flag of the Caribbean Community
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago
Associate members: Anguilla | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | British Virgin Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands
Observer status: Aruba | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Mexico | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Venezuela
¹ member of the community but not the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy.
Commonwealth Realms
Antigua and Barbuda | Australia | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Grenada | Jamaica | New Zealand | Papua New Guinea | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Solomon Islands | Tuvalu | United Kingdom
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