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. Piracy thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries because of The Bahamas close proximity to shipping lanes. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas has prospered through tourism, international banking, and investment management, which comprise up to 85% of GDP. Because of its proximity to the US – the nearest Bahamian landmass being only 80 km (50 mi) from Florida – the country is a major transshipment point for illicit trafficking, particularly to the US mainland, as well as Europe. US law enforcement agencies cooperate closely with The Bahamas, and the US Coast Guard assists Bahamian authorities in coastal defense through Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, or OPBAT.

Geography :: Bahamas, The


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: 13,880 sq km

land: 10,010 sq km

water: 3,870 sq km

Area – comparative

Area comparison map

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


lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Mount Alvernia on Cat Island 64 m

Natural resources

salt, aragonite, timber, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 1.4% (2016 est.)

arable land: 0.8% (2016 est.) /** permanent crops:** 0.4% (2016 est.) /** permanent pasture:** 0.2% (2016 est.)

forest: 51.4% (2016 est.)

other: 47.2% (2016 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the population lives in urban areas, with two-thirds living on New Providence Island where Nassau is located

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 and Society :: Bahamas, The


337,721 (July 2020 est.)

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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected


noun: Bahamian(s)

adjective: Bahamian

Ethnic groups

black 90.6%, white 4.7%, black and white 2.1%, other 1.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2010 est.)

note: data represent population by racial group


English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)


Protestant 69.9% (includes Baptist 34.9%, Anglican 13.7%, Pentecostal 8.9% Seventh Day Adventist 4.4%, Methodist 3.6%, Church of God 1.9%, Brethren 1.6%, other Protestant .9%), Roman Catholic 12%, other Christian 13% (includes Jehovah’s Witness 1.1%), other 0.6%, none 1.9%, unspecified 2.6% (2010 est.)

Age structure

population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 41.5

youth dependency ratio: 30.6

elderly dependency ratio: 11

potential support ratio: 9.1 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 32.8 years

male: 31.7 years

female: 34 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.75% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

14.8 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

most of the population lives in urban areas, with two-thirds living on New Providence Island where Nassau is located



Major urban areas – population

280,000 NASSAU (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.86 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

70 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.6 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 10.6 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 10.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.3 years

male: 70.8 years

female: 75.8 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.92 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Drinking water source

improved:** total:** 98.9% of population

unimproved:** total:** 1.1% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

5.8% (2017)

Physicians density

2.01 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

3 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved:** total:** 98.2% of population

unimproved:** total:** 1.8% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

1.8% (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

6,000 (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

<200 (2018)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

31.6% (2016)

Education expenditures


Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 25.8%

male: 20.8%

female: 31.6% (2016 est.)

Government :: Bahamas, The

Country name

conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas

conventional short form: The Bahamas

etymology: name derives from the Spanish “baha mar,” meaning “shallow sea,” which describes the shallow waters of the Bahama Banks

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


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 second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November

etymology: named after William III (1650-1702), king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, who was a member of the House of Nassau

Administrative divisions

31 districts; Acklins Islands, Berry Islands, Bimini, Black Point, Cat Island, Central Abaco, Central Andros, Central Eleuthera, City of Freeport, Crooked Island and Long Cay, East Grand Bahama, Exuma, Grand Cay, Harbour Island, Hope Town, Inagua, Long Island, Mangrove Cay, Mayaguana, Moore’s Island, North Abaco, North Andros, North Eleuthera, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, South Abaco, South Andros, South Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, West Grand Bahama


10 July 1973 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 10 July (1973)


history: previous 1964 (preindependence); latest adopted 20 June 1973, effective 10 July 1973

amendments: proposed as an “Act” by Parliament; passage of amendments to articles such as the organization and composition of the branches of government requires approval by at least two-thirds majority of the membership of both houses of Parliament and majority approval in a referendum; passage of amendments to constitutional articles such as fundamental rights and individual freedoms, the powers, authorities, and procedures of the branches of government, or changes to the Bahamas Independence Act 1973 requires approval by at least three-fourths majority of the membership of both houses and majority approval in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2016

Legal system

common law system based on the English model

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of The Bahamas

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 6-9 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Cornelius A. SMITH (since 28 June 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Hubert MINNIS (since 11 May 2017)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by governor general on recommendation of prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister

note: Prime Minister Hubert MINNIS is only the fourth prime minister in Bahamian history following its independence from the UK; he is also the first prime minister in 25 years besides Perry CHRISTIE and Hubert INGRAHAM, who repeatedly traded the premiership from 1992 to 2017

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:

Senate (16 seats; members appointed by the governor general upon the advice of the prime minister and the opposition leader to serve 5-year terms)
House of Assembly (39 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)
Senate – last appointments on 24 May 2017 (next appointments in 2022)
House of Assembly – last held on 10 May 2017 (next to be held by May 2022)
election results:
Senate – appointed; composition – men 9, women 7, percent of women 43.8%
House of Assembly – percent of vote by party – FNM 57%, PLP 36.9%, other 6.1%; seats by party – FNM 35, PLP 4; composition – men 34, women 5, percent of women 12.8%; note – total Parliament percent of women 21.8%

note: the government may dissolve the parliament and call elections at any time

Judicial branch

highest courts: Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and 4 justices, organized in 3-member panels); Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and a maximum of 11 and a minimum of 2 justices)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal president and Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition party; other Court of Appeal and Supreme Court justices appointed by the governor general upon recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, a 5-member body headed by the chief justice; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement normally at age 68 but can be extended until age 70; Supreme Court justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement normally at age 65 but can be extended until age 67

subordinate courts: Industrial Tribunal; Stipendiary and Magistrates’ Courts; Family Island Administrators

note: the Bahamas is a member of the 15-member Caribbean Community but is not party to the agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice as its highest appellate court; the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) serves as the final court of appeal for The Bahamas

Political parties and leaders

Democratic National Alliance or DNA [Christopher MORTIMER, interim leader]
Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert MINNIS]
Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Philip “Brave” DAVIS]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

Ambassador Sidney Stanley COLLIE (since 29 November 2017)
chancery: 2220 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: 1 319-2660

FAX: 1 319-2668
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Miami, New York, Washington, DC

honorary consulate(s): Aurora (CO), Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’ Affaires Stephanie BOWERS (since 1 March 2018)

telephone: 1 322-1181, 328-2206 (after hours)

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

FAX: 1 356-7174

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

National symbol(s)

blue marlin, flamingo, Yellow Elder flower; national colors: aquamarine, yellow, black

National anthem


Economy :: Bahamas, The

Economy – overview

The Bahamas has the second highest per capita GDP in the English-speaking Caribbean with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and financial services. Tourism accounts for approximately 50% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs half of the archipelago’s labor force. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP. Manufacturing and agriculture combined contribute less than 7% of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. The new government led by Prime Minister Hubert MINNIS has prioritized addressing fiscal imbalances and rising debt, which stood at 75% of GDP in 2016. Large capital projects like the Baha Mar Casino and Hotel are driving growth. Public debt increased in 2017 in large part due to hurricane reconstruction and relief financing. The primary fiscal balance was a deficit of 0.4% of GDP in 2016. The Bahamas is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that is not a member of the World Trade Organization.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$12.06 billion (2017 est.)
$11.89 billion (2016 est.)
$12.09 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$12.16 billion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

1.4% (2017 est.)
-1.7% (2016 est.)
1% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$32,400 (2017 est.)
$32,300 (2016 est.)
$33,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

11.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
18.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
12.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 68% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 13% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 26.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 33.7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -41.8% (2017 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 7.7% (2017 est.)

services: 90% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

citrus, vegetables; poultry; seafood


tourism, banking, oil bunkering, maritime industries, transshipment and logistics, salt, aragonite, pharmaceuticals

Industrial production growth rate

5.8% (2017 est.)

Labor force

196,900 (2013 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 3%

industry: 11%

services: 49%

tourism: 37% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate

10.1% (2017 est.)
12.2% (2016 est.)

Population below poverty line

9.3% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 22% (2007 est.)


revenues: 2.139 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.46 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

17.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

54.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
50.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July – 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.4% (2017 est.)
-0.3% (2016 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.909 billion (2017 est.)
-$868 million (2016 est.)


$550 million (2017 est.)
$444.3 million (2016 est.)

Exports – partners

US 63.9%, Namibia 19.3% (2017)

Exports – commodities

Rock lobster, aragonite, crude salt, polystyrene products


$3.18 billion (2017 est.)
$2.594 billion (2016 est.)

Imports – commodities

machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals

Imports – partners

US 83.2% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.522 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.002 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt – external

$17.56 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$16.35 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Bahamian dollars (BSD) per US dollar –
1 (2017 est.)
1 (2016 est.)
1 (2015 est.)
1 (2014 est.)
1 (2013 est.)

Energy :: Bahamas, The

Electricity access

electrification – total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity – production

1.778 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

1.654 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – imports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

577,000 kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil – production

0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil – exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – imports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

20,040 bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

19,150 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas – production

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

48,020 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

48,020 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

3.089 million Mt (2017 est.)

Communications :: Bahamas, The

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 113,455

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (2018 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 381,591

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 115 (2018 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the telecom sector across the Caribbean continues to be a growth area, contributing to the country’s overall GDP; totally automatic system; highly developed; operators focus investment on mobile networks; the activation of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in April 2017, allowing mobile subscribers to port their numbers between competing MNO (mobile network operators) has contributed to the competition and liberalization of the market (2020)

domestic: 34 per 100 fixed-line, 115 per 100 mobile-cellular (2018)

international: country code – 1-242; landing points for the ARCOS-1, BICS, Bahamas 2-US, and BDSN fiber-optic submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations – 2; the Bahamas Domestic Submarine Network links all of the major islands; (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic’s effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry – mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite – has moderated

Broadcast media

The Bahamas has 4 major TV providers that provide service to all major islands in the archipelago; 1 TV station is operated by government-owned, commercially run Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (BCB) and competes freely with 4 privately owned TV stations; multi-channel cable TV subscription service is widely available; there are 32 licensed broadcast (radio) service providers, 31 are privately owned FM radio stations operating on New Providence, Grand Bahama Island, Abaco Island, and on smaller islands in the country; the BCB operates a multi-channel radio broadcasting network that has national coverage; the sector is regulated by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (2019)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 282,739

percent of population: 85% (July 2018 est.)

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 87,067

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 26 (2018 est.)

Military and Security :: Bahamas, The

Military and security forces

Royal Bahamas Defense Force: Patrol Squadron, Commando Squadron, and Air Wing (2020)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) has approximately 1,300 total personnel (2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

most of the RBDF’s major equipment inventory is supplied by the Netherlands (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary male and female service; no conscription (2012)

Transportation :: Bahamas, The

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 5 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 35

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,197,116 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 160,000 mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

C6 (2016)


54 (2020)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 24 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 13 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2017)

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 37 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 16 (2013)

under 914 m: 17 (2013)


1 (2013)


total: 2,700 km (2011)

paved: 1,620 km (2011)

unpaved: 1,080 km (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 1,401

by type: bulk carrier 333, container ship 49, general cargo 78, oil tanker 268, other 673 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Freeport, Nassau, South Riding Point

cruise port(s): Nassau

container port(s) (TEUs): Freeport (1,116,272)(2011)

Transnational Issues :: Bahamas, The

Disputes – international

disagrees with the US on the alignment of the northern axis of a potential maritime boundary

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; offshore financial center


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