Bahamas, The

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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 has prospered through tourism, international banking, and investment management. Because of its location, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US and Europe, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US.

Geography

Location

chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba

Geographic coordinates

24.15° N, 76.00° W

Area 161/257

total: 13,880 sq km

land: 10,010 sq km

water: 3,870 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Connecticut

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

mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 1.4%

arable land 0.8%; permanent crops 0.4%; permanent pasture 0.2%

forest: 51.4%

other: 47.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

0.02 cu km (2011)

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

Nationality

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.)

Languages

English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)

Religions

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%), Roman Catholic 12%, other Christian 13% (includes Jehovah's Witness 1.1%), other 0.6%, none 1.9%, unspecified 2.6% (2010 est.)

Population 180/238

324,597

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 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 22.98% (male 37,838/female 36,747)

15-24 years: 17.15% (male 28,195/female 27,459)

25-54 years: 44.08% (male 71,528/female 71,555)

55-64 years: 8.58% (male 12,429/female 15,436)

65 years and over: 7.21% (male 8,981/female 14,429) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 41.2%

youth dependency ratio: 29.6%

elderly dependency ratio: 11.7%

potential support ratio: 8.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 31.5 years

male: 30.4 years

female: 32.6 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 129/233

0.85% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 127/224

15.5 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 133/225

7.05 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 108/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 82.9% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.53% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

NASSAU (capital) 267,000 (2014)

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 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.81 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 111/184

80 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 124/224

total: 11.92 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 11.75 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 12.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 142/224

total population: 72.2 years

male: 69.77 years

female: 74.7 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 129/224

1.96 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Health expenditures 70/191

7.3% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

2.82 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 98.4% of population

rural: 98.4% of population

total: 98.4% of population

unimproved:

urban: 1.6% of population

rural: 1.6% of population

total: 1.6% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 92% of population

rural: 92% of population

total: 92% of population

unimproved:

urban: 8% of population

rural: 8% of population

total: 8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

3.22% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

7,700 (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

500 (2013 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 13/191

36.6% (2014)

Education expenditures

NA

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 24/134

total: 30.8%

male: 29.6%

female: 32.2% (2012 est.)

Government

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

constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Capital

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

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

Independence

10 July 1973 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 10 July (1973)

Constitution

previous 1964 (preindependence); latest adopted 20 June 1973, effective 10 July 1973; amended many times, last in 2012 (2015)

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

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

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Dame Marguerite PINDLING (since 8 July 2014)

head of government: Prime Minister Perry CHRISTIE (since 8 May 2012)

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

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; 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

Legislative branch

description: 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 5-year terms) and the House of Assembly (38 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms); note - the government may dissolve the parliament and call elections at any time

elections: last held on 7 May 2012 (next to be held by May 2017)

election results: percent of vote by party - PLP 48.6%, FNM 42.1%, DNA 8.5%, other.8%; seats by party - PLP 29, FNM 9

Judicial branch

highest resident court(s): The Bahamas Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and 4 justices, organized in 3-member panels); Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 9 justices – as of 2015)

note: as of 2008, the Bahamas was not a party to the agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice as the highest appellate court for the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM); the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) serves as the final court of appeal for The Bahamas

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

Political parties and leaders

Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert MINNIS]

Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]

Democratic National Alliance [Branville MCCARTNEY]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Friends of the Environment

other: trade unions

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

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

name: "March On, Bahamaland!"

lyrics/music: Timothy GIBSON

note: adopted 1973; as a Commonwealth country, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)

Economy

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. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy and, when combined with business services, account for about 35% of GDP. Manufacturing and agriculture combined contribute less than one 10th of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. The economy of The Bahamas shrank at an average pace of 0.8% annually between 2007 and 2011, and tourism, financial services, and construction - pillars of the national economy - remain subdued. Conditions are improving in the tourism sector, however, due to steady foreign investment led activity. New resort and marina developments are likely to provide sustained employment opportunities.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 160/230

$9.231 billion (2015 est.)

$9.12 billion (2014 est.)

$9.027 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$8.884 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 170/225

1.2% (2015 est.)

1% (2014 est.)

0% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 73/230

$25,600 (2015 est.)

$25,300 (2014 est.)

$25,100 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 157/179

8.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

6.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

9.3% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 70.8%

government consumption: 15.5%

investment in fixed capital: 28%

investment in inventories: 1%

exports of goods and services: 38.6%

imports of goods and services: -53.9%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.1%

industry: 7.3%

services: 90.6% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

citrus, vegetables; poultry

Industries

tourism, banking, oil bunkering, maritime industries, transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals

Industrial production growth rate 133/202

1.5% (2015 est.)

Labor force 172/233

196,900 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 3%

industry: 11%

tourism: 49%

other services: 37% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate 150/207

15% (2014 est.)

15.8% (2013 est.)

Population below poverty line

9.3% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1%

highest 10%: 22% (2007 est.)

Budget

revenues: $1.6 billion

expenditures: $1.8 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 174/219

18% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 81/220

-2.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 65/176

57.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

56.1% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 106/226

1.8% (2015 est.)

1.5% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 82/156

4.5% (1 January 2014)

4.5% (31 December 2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 148/184

5.1% (31 December 2015 est.)

4.75% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 125/192

$2.101 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.996 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 121/193

$6.453 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$6.076 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 104/191

$9.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$8.825 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 96/121

$2.78 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Current account balance 124/197

-$1.149 billion (2015 est.)

-$1.891 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 160/224

$976.1 million (2015 est.)

$848.8 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

crawfish, aragonite, crude salt, polystyrene products

Exports - partners

Cote d'Ivoire 20.5%, US 14.7%, India 13.4%, Dominican Republic 10.6%, Mexico 6.9%, Ecuador 4.9% (2014)

Imports 151/223

$2.65 billion (2015 est.)

$3.27 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Imports - partners

US 30.8%, Japan 11.4%, Singapore 9.4%, South Korea 7.7%, Colombia 7.4%, China 6.8%, Brazil 5.6% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 136/170

$950 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$874.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 90/206

$17.56 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

$16.35 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Bahamian dollars (BSD) per US dollar -

1 (2015 est.)

1 (2014 est.)

1 (2013 est.)

1 (2012 est.)

1 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 140/220

1.845 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 145/219

1.716 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 106/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 121/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 141/214

493,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 5/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 50/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 162/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 157/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 110/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 100/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 161/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 109/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 158/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 124/212

23,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 61/214

41,650 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 71/213

64,430 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 159/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 119/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 63/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 162/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 114/212

0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 134/212

3.836 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 140/219

total subscriptions: 140,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 43 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 178/217

total: 273,300

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 85 (2014 est.)

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)

Broadcast media

2 TV stations operated by government-owned, commercially run Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (BCB); multi-channel cable TV subscription service is available; about 15 radio stations operating with BCB operating a multi-channel radio broadcasting network alongside privately owned radio stations (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 0 (2009)

Television broadcast stations

2 (2006)

Internet country code

.bs

Internet hosts 117/232

20,661 (2012)

Internet users 151/217

total: 247,200

percent of population: 76.8% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 80/236

61 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 24

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 13

914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 37

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 16

under 914 m: 17 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Roadways 171/223

total: 2,700 km

paved: 1,620 km

unpaved: 1,080 km (2011)

Merchant marine 10/156

total: 1,160

by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 238, cargo 170, carrier 2, chemical tanker 87, combination ore/oil 8, container 57, liquefied gas 71, passenger 102, passenger/cargo 26, petroleum tanker 225, refrigerated cargo 97, roll on/roll off 13, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 61

foreign-owned: 1,069 (Angola 6, Australia 1, Belgium 6, Bermuda 15, Brazil 1, Canada 96, Croatia 1, Cyprus 23, Denmark 69, Finland 8, France 15, Germany 30, Greece 225, Guernsey 6, Hong Kong 3, Indonesia 2, Ireland 3, Italy 1, Japan 88, Jordan 2, Kuwait 1, Malaysia 13, Monaco 8, Montenegro 2, Netherlands 23, Nigeria 2, Norway 186, Poland 34, Saudi Arabia 16, Singapore 7, South Korea 1, Spain 6, Sweden 11, Switzerland 1, Thailand 4, Turkey 3, UAE 23, UK 18, US 109)

registered in other countries: 6 (Panama 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals

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

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

cruise port(s): Nassau

Military and Security

Military branches

Royal Bahamas Defense Force: Land Force, Navy, Air Wing (2011)

Military service age and obligation

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

Transnational Issues

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