|The Commonwealth of the
|Form of government
||EST = UTC-5 (November-March), EDT = UTC-4
|Telephone area code
The Bahamas (The Commonwealth of the Bahamas), which
belong to the West Indies, consist of around 30 larger
and 700 smaller islands and reefs (cays) in the Atlantic
Ocean, which form an approximately 1,000 km long arch
from the southeast coast of Florida along the Cuban Form
the north coast to Haiti. The total area of the
Bahamas is 13,939 km².
The name of the country is derived from Spanish: "baja
mar" means "shallow sea". The largest islands are Andros
(4 100 km²), Great Inagua (1 551 km²), Grand Bahama (1
372 km²), Great Abaco (1 023 km²), Eleuthera (518 km²),
Long Island (448 km²) and Cat Island (388 km²). The
capital Nassau lies on the island of New Providence (207
The Bahamas represent the peaks of a plateau that
rise just a few meters out of the water and rise from
the Atlantic at a depth of more than 5,000 m. Between
Great Abaco and Eleuthera is the deepest underwater
canyon that has been discovered so far. Its depth is
said to be just under 4,300 m. The highest elevation
above sea level is Mount Alvernia on Cat Island at 63 m.
Large parts of the islands, which consist of coral
limestone and limestone, are karstified. There are no
major rivers in the Bahamas because the limestone lets
rain and spring water seep away. On some islands such as
Andros (Blue Holes) there are smaller lakes, here layers
of clay in the ground prevent seepage. Andros, the
largest island in the Bahamas, is heavily divided by
bays and lakes and rich in swamps and lagoons.
The Bahamas are located in the subtropics and under
the influence of warm ocean currents. The low
temperature fluctuations are characteristic throughout
the year, the average values for the capital Nassau in
January are 23 ˇăC, in July 26 ˇăC. In summer (May to
November) the southeast trade wind blows constantly,
which often causes heavy rain showers. In the winter
half-year, the north-east trade wind brings cooler air
masses, usually the temperatures do not fall below 16
ˇăC. Average rainfall in the northwest of the Bahamas is
around 1,200 mm per year, and around 1,000 mm in the
southeast. Cyclones can occur between June and
Flora and fauna
Savannahs are typical of the vegetation in the
Bahamas. On some islands (e.g. Great Abaco, Grand
Bahama, Andros) there are also extensive pine forests,
on the northwest, more humid islands pine trees grow,
small areas are covered with damp forests with precious
woods such as mahogany and ebony. There are mangrove
plants on the coasts of the islands.
The wildlife in the Bahamas has few species. In
addition to the rabbit-sized agoutis, which belong to
the rodents, some snake species, lizards and iguanas
live here. Around ten thousand flamingos live in Inagua
National Park. The Bahama Amazon belonging to the
parrots is threatened with extinction. The coastal
waters with numerous coral reefs are diverse and
The total population of the Bahamas is around
300,000, with over a third (210,000) living in the
capital, Nassau, on the island of New Providence. Only
around 29 islands are inhabited, and a few smaller ones
are privately owned.
Around 85% of the population are black people with
West African ancestors. Whites, mostly descendants of
British settlers, make up around 12% of the population.
Mulattoes and smaller groups of Greeks and Haitians make
up the rest. The Protestant Baptists, Anglicans and the
Church of God have by far the most followers in the
population. Almost a fifth belong to the Roman Catholic
Church, about 5% are Methodists. Other beliefs are only
According to COUNTRYAAH,
the population growth is 0.7%, the average life
expectancy is 66 years.
The official language is English.
The Bahamas have been independent under the British
Commonwealth since 1973, and there is a
parliamentary-democratic monarchy. The constitution also
dates from 1973. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II
of England (since February 1952), who is represented on
the islands by a governor general (Marguerite Pindling,
since July 2014). The head of government is the Prime
Minister (Perry Christie, since May 2012), who is the
representative of the majority party in Parliament.
The Parliament consists of a Senate (16 members, who
are appointed for five years by the Governor-General on
the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the leader
of the opposition party) and a Chamber of Deputies (38
seats, members are directly elected by the people for
The economy of the wealthy islands essentially lives
from tourism, which has replaced fishing and agriculture
as the main economic factor since the mid-20th century.
Around 60% of gross domestic product (GDP) is generated
in this area, and around half of the workforce is
directly or indirectly involved in tourism. The Bahamas
are popular as a vacation destination for the Americans
(around 80% of tourists). The fall in tourism associated
with the global financial crisis in 2009 hit the country
Tax breaks (income and profits are not taxed here)
and banking secrecy led to over 400 banks and many
insurance companies settling in Nassau and the capital
of the Bahamas becoming an international financial
center. Laws were tightened in 2001 under pressure from
the United States, and many institutes have since been
Only 1% of the area can be used for agriculture, the
soil is not very productive and there are hardly any
resources. 80% of the food has to be imported. In small
businesses, vegetables, fruit and sugar cane are grown
to cover their own needs. Fishing contributes fish and
crustaceans (lobsters) as export goods.
The industrial center of the Bahamas is located in
Freeport on the Grand Bahama Island. There are companies
in the pharmaceutical and electrical engineering
industries, a cement factory and an oil refinery.
The main trading partners of the Bahamas are the USA.
The main export goods are fish and seafood, sea salt and
rum, the main imports are foodstuffs, consumer and basic
necessities, machines and raw materials (eg petroleum).
Drug trafficking or drug smuggling is a major problem
in the Bahamas. Due to its favorable location, the
country is the most important stopover for drug
smuggling between Colombia and the USA.
The large ports in Nassau, Freeport and Matthew Town
make the Bahamas a stopover for international shipping.
There are international airports in Nassau and Freeport.
The currency is the Bahamas dollar (= 100 cents).