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Bahamas, The



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Introduction

Background: Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. By the early 1980s, the islands had become a major center for drug trafficking, particularly shipments to the US.

Geography

Location: Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida

Geographic coordinates: 24 15 N, 76 00 W

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

Area
  total: 13,940 sq km
  land: 10,070 sq km
  water: 3,870 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 3,542 km

Maritime claims
  continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
  exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream

Terrain: long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills

Elevation extremes
  lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
  highest point: Mount Alvernia, on Cat Island 63 m

Natural resources: salt, aragonite, timber

Land use
  arable land: 1%
  permanent crops: 0%
  permanent pastures: 0%
  forests and woodland: 32%
  other: 67% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: hurricanes and other tropical storms that 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, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, 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

People

Population: 294,982 (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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.))

Age structure
  0-14 years: 30% (male 44,339; female 43,667)
  15-64 years: 64% (male 93,072; female 96,457)
  65 years and over: 6% (male 7,298; female 10,149) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.01% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 19.54 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 6.81 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
  total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 16.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 71.07 years
  male: 68.25 years
  female: 73.94 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.33 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Bahamian(s)
  adjective: Bahamian

Ethnic groups: black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%

Religions: Baptist 32%, Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 19%, Methodist 6%, Church of God 6%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2%

Languages: English, Creole (among Haitian immigrants)

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  total population: 98.2%
  male: 98.5%
  female: 98% (1995 est.)

Government

Country name
  conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
  conventional short form: The Bahamas

Data code: BF

Government type: constitutional parliamentary democracy

Capital: Nassau

Administrative divisions: 21 districts; Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Exuma, Freeport, Fresh Creek, Governor's Harbour, Green Turtle Cay, Harbour Island, High Rock, Inagua, Kemps Bay, Long Island, Marsh Harbour, Mayaguana, New Providence, Nicholls Town and Berry Islands, Ragged Island, Rock Sound, Sandy Point, San Salvador and Rum Cay

Independence: 10 July 1973 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 10 July (1973)

Constitution: 10 July 1973

Legal system: based on English common law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Orville TURNQUEST (since 2 January 1995)
  head of government: Prime Minister Hubert Alexander INGRAHAM (since 19 August 1992) and Deputy Prime Minister Frank WATSON (since December 1994)
  cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the prime minister's recommendation
  elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (16-member body appointed by the governor general upon the advice of the prime minister and the opposition leader for a five-year term) and the House of Assembly (40 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
  elections: last held 14 March 1997 (next to be held by March 2002)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FNM 35, PLP 5

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; magistrate's courts

Political parties and leaders: Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert Alexander INGRAHAM]; Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]

International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Arlington Griffith BUTLER
  chancery: 2220 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
  telephone: [1] (202) 319-2660
  FAX: [1] (202) 319-2668
  consulate(s) general: Miami and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Arthur SCHECHTER
  embassy: Queen Street, Nassau
  mailing address: local or express mail address: P. O. Box N-8197, Nassau; stateside address: American Embassy Nassau, P. O. Box 599009, Miami, FL 33159-9009; pouch address: Nassau, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-3370
  telephone: [1] (242) 322-1181
  FAX: [1] (242) 356-0222

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of aquamarine (top), gold, and aquamarine, with a black equilateral triangle based on the hoist side

Economy

Economy - overview: 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 40% of the archipelago's labor force. Moderate growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences led to an increase of the country's GDP by an estimated 3% in 1998. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute less than 10% of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run will depend heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector and continued income growth in the US, which accounts for the majority of tourist visitors.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $5.58 billion (1998 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3% (1998 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $20,000 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 3%
  industry: 5%
  services: 92% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.3% (1998)

Labor force: 148,000 (1996)

Labor force - by occupation: tourism 40%, other services 50%, industry 5%, agriculture 5% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: 9% (1998 est.)

Budget
  revenues: $766 million
  expenditures: $845 million, including capital expenditures of $97 million (FY97/98)

Industries: tourism, banking, cement, oil refining and transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 1.34 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 100%
  hydro: 0%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 1.246 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: citrus, vegetables; poultry

Exports: $362.8 million (1998)

Exports - commodities: pharmaceuticals, cement, rum, crawfish, refined petroleum products

Exports - partners: US 22.3%, Switzerland 15.6%, UK 15%, Denmark 7.4% (1998)

Imports: $1.74 billion (1998)

Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, manufactured goods, crude oil, vehicles, electronics

Imports - partners: US 27.3%, Italy 26.5%, Japan 10%, Denmark 4.2% (1998)

Debt - external: $349 million (1998)

Economic aid - recipient: $9.8 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Bahamian dollar (B$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Bahamian dollar (B$) per US$1 - 1.000 (fixed rate pegged to the dollar)

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 77,000 (1994)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,400 (1993)

Telephone system
  domestic: totally automatic system; highly developed
  international: tropospheric scatter and submarine cable to Florida; 3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: 215,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Televisions: 67,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 3 (1999)

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways
  total: 2,693 km
  paved: 1,546 km
  unpaved: 1,147 km (1997 est.)

Ports and harbors: Freeport, Matthew Town, Nassau

Merchant marine
  total: 1,075 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 28,630,674 GRT/44,111,353 DWT
  ships by type: bulk 201, cargo 233, chemical tanker 41, combination bulk 15, combination ore/oil 25, container 59, liquified gas 35, livestock carrier 1, passenger 68, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 177, rail car carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 129, roll-on/roll-off 51, short-sea passenger 12, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 23 (1999 est.) (Note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 49 countries among which are Norway 177, Greece 141, UK 113, US 61, Denmark 39, Finland 27, Japan 25, Sweden 24, France 22, and Italy 22 (1998 est.))

Airports: 62 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 33
  over 3,047 m: 2
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
  914 to 1,523 m: 12
  under 914 m: 2 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 29
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
  914 to 1,523 m: 7
  under 914 m: 21 (1999 est.)

Heliports: 1 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: Royal Bahamas Defense Force (Coast Guard only), Royal Bahamas Police Force

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $20 million (FY95/96)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; banking industry vulnerable to money laundering

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Site Version 1.75 - Last updated December 20, 2006

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