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The World Factbook. 2008.

Bahamas, The

Flag of Bahamas, The                                Map of Bahamas, The
Background: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 have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. Because of its geography, 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.
Location:Caribbean, 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
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: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 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:arable land: 0.58%
permanent crops: 0.29%
other: 99.13% (2005)
Irrigated land:10 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:NA
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
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 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 27% (male 41,268/female 41,186)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 99,961/female 103,230)
65 years and over: 6.5% (male 8,176/female 11,834) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 28.1 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.9 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:0.602% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:17.3 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:9.13 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:-2.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.002 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.968 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.691 male(s)/female
total population: 0.956 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 24.17 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 65.66 years
male: 62.37 years
female: 69.02 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.15 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:3% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:5,600 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—deaths:less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:noun: Bahamian(s)
adjective: Bahamian
Ethnic groups:black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%
Religions:Baptist 35.4%, Anglican 15.1%, Roman Catholic 13.5%, Pentecostal 8.1%, Church of God 4.8%, Methodist 4.2%, other Christian 15.2%, none or unspecified 2.9%, other 0.8% (2000 census)
Languages:English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.6%
male: 94.7%
female: 96.5% (2003 est.)
Country name:conventional long form: Commonwealth of The Bahamas
conventional short form: The Bahamas
Government type:constitutional parliamentary democracy
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: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, Nichollstown and Berry Islands, Ragged Island, Rock Sound, Sandy Point, San Salvador and Rum Cay
Independence:10 July 1973 (from UK)
National holiday:Independence 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 Arthur D. HANNA (since 1 February 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Hubert A. INGRAHAM (since 4 May 2007)
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; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; the prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
Legislative branch: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 five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (41 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms); the government may dissolve the Parliament and call elections at any time
elections: last held 2 May 2007 (next to be called by May 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party – FNM 49.86%, PLP 47.02%; seats by party – FNM 23, PLP 18
Judicial branch:Privy Council (London); Courts of Appeal; Supreme (lower) Court; magistrates courts
Political parties and leaders:Free National Movement or FNM [Hubert INGRAHAM]; Progressive Liberal Party or PLP [Perry CHRISTIE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITSO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Cornelius A. SMITH
chancery: 2220 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 319-2660
FAX: [1] (202) 319-2668
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Ned L. SIEGEL
embassy: 42 Queen Street, Nassau
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, 356-3229 (after hours)
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—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. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences had led to solid GDP growth in recent years, but tourist arrivals have been on the decline since 2006. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy and, when combined with business services, account for about 36% of GDP. However, since December 2000, when the government enacted new regulations on the financial sector, many international businesses have left The Bahamas. Manufacturing and agriculture combined contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector. Tourism, in turn, depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$6.925 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$6.586 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:2.8% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$22,700 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 3%
industry: 7%
services: 90% (2001 est.)
Labor force:181,900 (2006)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture 5%, industry 5%, tourism 50%, other services 40% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate:7.6% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:9.3% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: 27% (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):2.4% (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $1.03 billion
expenditures: $1.03 billion (FY04/05)
Agriculture—products:citrus, vegetables; poultry
Industries:tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe
Industrial production growth rate:NA%
Electricity—production:1.894 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:1.762 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2005)
Oil—production:0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil—consumption:26,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—exports:transshipments of 41,290 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—imports:68,250 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—proved reserves:0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports:$674 million (2006)
Exports—commodities:mineral products and salt, animal products, rum, chemicals, fruit and vegetables
Exports—partners:Spain 22.3%, US 19.8%, Poland 13.5%, Germany 13%, UK 5.7%, Guatemala 4.9% (2006)
Imports:$2.401 billion (2006)
Imports—commodities:machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals
Imports—partners:US 24.7%, Brazil 15.7%, Japan 13.1%, South Korea 7.8%, Spain 6.2% (2006)
Debt—external:$342.6 million (2004 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$NA
Economic aid—recipient:$4.78 million (2004)
Currency (code):Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Exchange rates:Bahamian dollars per US dollar – 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005), 1 (2004), 1 (2003)
Fiscal year:1 July – 30 June
Telephones—main lines in use:133,100 (2005)
Telephones—mobile cellular:227,800 (2005)
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 station – 2 (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 3, FM 5, shortwave 0 (2006)
Television broadcast stations:2 (2006)
Internet country
Internet hosts:248 (2007)
Internet users:103,000 (2005)
Airports:62 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 24
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 38
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 22 (2007)
Heliports:1 (2007)
Roadways:total: 2,693 km
paved: 1,546 km
unpaved: 1,147 km (1999)
Merchant marine:total: 1,213 ships (1000 GRT or over) 40,403,455 GRT/54,276,183 DWT
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 225, cargo 240, chemical tanker 84, combination ore/oil 13, container 72, liquefied gas 49, livestock carrier 2, passenger 117, passenger/cargo 34, petroleum tanker 196, refrigerated cargo 118, roll on/roll off 18, specialized tanker 4, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 39
foreign-owned: 1,134 (Angola 6, Australia 3, Belgium 15, Bermuda 12, Brazil 1, Canada 13, China 9, Croatia 1, Cuba 1, Cyprus 20, Denmark 66, Finland 8, France 43, Germany 40, Greece 214, Hong Kong 3, Iceland 1, Indonesia 3, Ireland 2, Italy 1, Japan 62, Jordan 2, Kenya 1, Malaysia 11, Monaco 11, Montenegro 2, Netherlands 24, Nigeria 2, Norway 232, Philippines 1, Poland 15, Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 15, Singapore 9, Slovenia 1, South Africa 1, Spain 11, Sweden 5, Switzerland 2, Taiwan 1, Thailand 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1, Turkey 5, UAE 20, UK 68, US 162, Uruguay 1, Venezuela 1)
registered in other countries: 3 (Barbados 1, Panama 2) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Freeport, Nassau, South Riding Point
Military branches:Royal Bahamian Defense Force: Land Force, Navy, Air Wing (2007)
Military service age and obligation:18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2001)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 73,121 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 44,309 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 2,804 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:0.5% (2006)
Transnational Issues
Disputes—international:disagrees with the US on the alignment of a potential maritime boundary; continues to monitor and interdict drug dealers and Haitian refugees in Bahamian waters
Illicit drugs:transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for US and Europe; offshore financial center