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.



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

slightly smaller than Connecticut

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


mean elevation: NA
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)

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

Ethnic groups

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

Birth rate

15.4 births/1,000 population (2016 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 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian


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%), 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

0-14 years: 22.75% (male 37,779/female 36,691)
15-24 years: 16.79% (male 27,843/female 27,116)
25-54 years: 44.12% (male 72,295/female 72,107)
55-64 years: 8.87% (male 13,023/female 15,998)
65 years and over: 7.47% (male 9,399/female 15,065) (2016 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: 31.8 years
male: 30.6 years
female: 32.9 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.83% (2016 est.)

Death rate

7.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

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


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 (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

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

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 72.4 years
male: 70 years
female: 74.8 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.95 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

7.7% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

2.82 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.4% of population
rural: 98.4% of population
total: 98.4% of population
urban: 1.6% of population
rural: 1.6% of population
total: 1.6% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 92% of population
rural: 92% of population
total: 92% of population
urban: 8% of population
rural: 8% of population
total: 8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

3.22% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

8,100 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

300 (2015 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

36.6% (2014)

Education expenditures


Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 30.8%
male: 29.6%
female: 32.2% (2012 est.)


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 (Parliament) 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

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)


previous 1964 (preindependence); latest adopted 20 June 1973, effective 10 July 1973; amended many times, last in 2016 (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 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): 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

Democratic National Alliance [Branville MCCARTNEY]
Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert MINNIS]
Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Friends of the Environment
other: trade unions

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Dr. Eugene Glenwood NEWRY (since 3 December 2013)
chancery: 2220 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 319-2660
FAX: [1] (202) 319-2668
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d' Affaires Lisa A. JOHNSON (since 9 July 2014
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
telephone: [1] (242) 322-1181, 328-2206 (after hours)
FAX: [1] (242) 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

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)


GDP (purchasing power parity)

$9.066 billion (2016 est.)
$9.042 billion (2015 est.)
$9.195 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

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 indirectl

GDP (official exchange rate)

$9.047 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

0.3% (2016 est.)
-1.7% (2015 est.)
-0.5% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$24,600 (2016 est.)
$24,800 (2015 est.)
$25,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

14.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
11.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
9.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 65.7%
government consumption: 16.3%
investment in fixed capital: 27.3%
investment in inventories: 1%
exports of goods and services: 36.9%
imports of goods and services: -47.2% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.3%
industry: 7.6%
services: 90.1% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

citrus, vegetables; poultry


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

Industrial production growth rate

1.5% (2016 est.)

Labor force

196,900 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 3%
industry: 11%
tourism: 49%
other services: 37% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate

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.)


revenues: $1.9 billion
expenditures: $2.3 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

21% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

64.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
64.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1% (2016 est.)
1.9% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

4.5% (1 January 2014)
4.5% (31 December 2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

6% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.8% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$2.061 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.051 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$6.952 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.546 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$9.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$8.922 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$2.78 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.029 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.415 billion (2015 est.)


$880 million (2016 est.)
$800 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

crawfish, aragonite, crude salt, polystyrene products

Exports - partners

Poland 26.3%, Cote dIvoire 20.9%, US 15.9%, Dominican Republic 14.3% (2015)


$2.495 billion (2016 est.)
$2.585 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Imports - partners

US 22.3%, China 14.8%, Japan 9.5%, Poland 7.7%, South Korea 7.3%, Colombia 6.8%, Brazil 5.6%, Singapore 5.5% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.02 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$895.5 million (31 December 2015 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 (2016 est.)
1 (2015 est.)
1 (2014 est.)
1 (2013 est.)
1 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

1.7 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

1.6 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

600,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

24,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

922.7 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

26,330 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2009 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

4.1 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 120,925
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 311,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 96 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern facilities
domestic: totally automatic system; highly developed; the Bahamas Domestic Submarine Network links all of the major islands; Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) privatized in 2011, but the government reacquired 51% share in 2014
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 (2015)

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 n (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 253,000
percent of population: 78% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 16
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 587,516
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 172,730 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

C6 (2016)


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)


1 (2013)


total: 2,700 km
paved: 1,620 km
unpaved: 1,080 km (2011)

Merchant marine

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
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 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