The Bahamas

The Bahamas

Overview
The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s, 661 cay
Cay
A cay , also spelled caye or key, is a small, low-elevation, sandy island formed on the surface of coral reefs. Cays occur in tropical environments throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans , where they provide habitable and agricultural land for hundreds of thousands of people...

s, and 2,387 islet
Islet
An islet is a very small island.- Types :As suggested by its origin as islette, an Old French diminutive of "isle", use of the term implies small size, but little attention is given to drawing an upper limit on its applicability....

s (rocks). It is located in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 north of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 (Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 and Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the Caribbean, the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands, known for tourism and as an offshore financial centre.The Turks and...

, and southeast of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (nearest to the state of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

). Its land area is 13939 km² (5,381.9 sq mi), with a population of 353,658. Its capital is Nassau
Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 248,948 , 70 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas...

. Geographically, The Bahamas lie in the same island chain as Cuba, Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands; the designation of Bahamas refers normally to the Commonwealth and not the geographic chain.

Originally inhabited by the Lucayan
Lucayan
The Lucayan were the original inhabitants of the Bahamas before the arrival of Europeans. They were a branch of the Taínos who inhabited most of the Caribbean islands at the time. The Lucayans were the first inhabitants of the Americas encountered by Christopher Columbus...

s, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taino
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 people, The Bahamas were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'The Bahamas'
Start a new discussion about 'The Bahamas'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s, 661 cay
Cay
A cay , also spelled caye or key, is a small, low-elevation, sandy island formed on the surface of coral reefs. Cays occur in tropical environments throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans , where they provide habitable and agricultural land for hundreds of thousands of people...

s, and 2,387 islet
Islet
An islet is a very small island.- Types :As suggested by its origin as islette, an Old French diminutive of "isle", use of the term implies small size, but little attention is given to drawing an upper limit on its applicability....

s (rocks). It is located in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 north of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 (Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 and Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the Caribbean, the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands, known for tourism and as an offshore financial centre.The Turks and...

, and southeast of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (nearest to the state of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

). Its land area is 13939 km² (5,381.9 sq mi), with a population of 353,658. Its capital is Nassau
Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 248,948 , 70 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas...

. Geographically, The Bahamas lie in the same island chain as Cuba, Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands; the designation of Bahamas refers normally to the Commonwealth and not the geographic chain.

Originally inhabited by the Lucayan
Lucayan
The Lucayan were the original inhabitants of the Bahamas before the arrival of Europeans. They were a branch of the Taínos who inhabited most of the Caribbean islands at the time. The Lucayans were the first inhabitants of the Americas encountered by Christopher Columbus...

s, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taino
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 people, The Bahamas were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492. Although the Spanish never colonized The Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1648, when English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 colonists from Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 settled on the island of Eleuthera
Eleuthera
Eleuthera is an island in The Bahamas, lying 50 miles east of Nassau. It is very long and thin—110 miles long and in places little more than a mile wide. According to the 2000 Census, the population of Eleuthera is approximately 8,000...

.

The Bahamas became a Crown Colony
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

 in 1718 when the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 clamped down on piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

. Following the American War of Independence
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, thousands of pro-British loyalists and enslaved Africans moved to The Bahamas and set up a plantation economy. The slave trade was abolished
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 in 1807 and many Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 were settled in The Bahamas during the 19th century. Slavery itself was abolished in 1834 and the descendants of enslaved and liberated Africans form the bulk of The Bahamas's population today.

In terms of GDP per capita, the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas (following Bermuda, the United States, Cayman Islands, Canada, and the British Virgin Islands) and one of the richest in the world whose population is predominantly of African ancestry.

Etymology


The origin of the name Bahamas is unclear. It may derive from the Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 baja mar ("low sea") or the Lucayan
Lucayan
The Lucayan were the original inhabitants of the Bahamas before the arrival of Europeans. They were a branch of the Taínos who inhabited most of the Caribbean islands at the time. The Lucayans were the first inhabitants of the Americas encountered by Christopher Columbus...

 word for Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama is one of the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and the closest major island to the United States, lying off the state of Florida. Grand Bahama is the fifth largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays...

 island, ba-ha-ma ("large upper middle land").

History



Taino
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 people moved into the uninhabited southern Bahamas from Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 and Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 around the 11th century AD. These people came to be known as the Lucayan
Lucayan
The Lucayan were the original inhabitants of the Bahamas before the arrival of Europeans. They were a branch of the Taínos who inhabited most of the Caribbean islands at the time. The Lucayans were the first inhabitants of the Americas encountered by Christopher Columbus...

s. There were an estimated 30,000+ Lucayans at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492. Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

's first landfall in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 was on an island named San Salvador (known to the Lucayans as Guanahani
Guanahani
Guanahani was the name the natives gave to the island that Christopher Columbus called San Salvador when he arrived at the Americas. Columbus reached the island on 12 October 1492, the first island he sighted and visited in the Americas...

), which some researchers believe to be present-day San Salvador Island
San Salvador Island
San Salvador Island, also known as Watlings Island, is an island and district of the Bahamas. Until 1986, when the National Geographic Society suggested Samana Cay, it was widely believed that during his first expedition to the New World, San Salvador Island was the first land sighted and visited...

, (also known as Watling's Island) in the southeastern Bahamas.

An alternative theory holds that Columbus landed to the southeast on Samana Cay
Samana Cay
Samana Cay is the largest now uninhabited island in the Bahamas, believed by some researchers to have been the location of Columbus's first landfall in the Americas, on October 12, 1492....

, according to calculations made in 1986 by National Geographic writer and editor Joseph Judge
Joseph Judge
was a writer and editor for National Geographic Magazine, retiring as Senior Associate Editor in 1990 after 25 years of service.-Early life:...

 based on Columbus's log. Evidence in support of this remains inconclusive. On the landfall island, Columbus made first contact with the Lucayans and exchanged goods with them.

The Lucayans throughout The Bahamas were wiped out as a result of Spanish forced migration of the population to Hispaniola for use as forced labour there, and exposure to diseases
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

 to which they had no immunity. The smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 that ravaged the Taino Indians after Columbus's arrival wiped out half of the population in what is now The Bahamas.

It is generally assumed that the islands were uninhabited by Europeans until the mid-17th century. However, recent research suggests that there may have been attempts to settle the islands by groups from Spain, France, and Britain, as well as by other Amerindians. In 1648, the Eleutherian Adventurers migrated from Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

. These English Puritans established the first permanent European settlement on an island which they named Eleuthera
Eleuthera
Eleuthera is an island in The Bahamas, lying 50 miles east of Nassau. It is very long and thin—110 miles long and in places little more than a mile wide. According to the 2000 Census, the population of Eleuthera is approximately 8,000...

—the name derives from the Greek word for freedom. They later settled New Providence
New Providence
New Providence is the most populous island in the Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It also houses the national capital city, Nassau.The island was originally under Spanish control following Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World, but the Spanish government showed...

, naming it Sayle's Island after one of their leaders. To survive, the settlers resorted to salvaged goods from wrecks.

In 1670 King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 granted the islands to the Lords Proprietors of the Carolinas, who rented the islands from the king with rights of trading, tax, appointing governors, and administering the country. In 1684 Spain's corsair Juan de Alcon raided the capital
Raid on Charles Town
The Raid on Charles Town or Spanish raid on New Providence was a Spanish naval expedition on 19 January 1684 led by the Cuban corsair Juan de Alarcón against the English privateering stronghold of Charles Town , capital of the Bahamas.The Bahamas harbored pirates and privateers who preyed on...

 Charles Town, and in 1703 a joint Franco-Spanish expedition briefly occupied
Raid on Nassau
The Raid on Nassau was a privately raised Franco-Spanish expedition during the War of the Spanish Succession led by Blas Moreno Mondragón and Clause Le Chesnaye...

 the Bahamian capital during the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

.

18th century


During proprietary rule, The Bahamas became a haven for pirate
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

s, including the infamous Blackbeard
Blackbeard
Edward Teach , better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies....

. To restore orderly government, The Bahamas were made a British crown colony
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

 in 1718 under the royal governorship of Woodes Rogers
Woodes Rogers
Woodes Rogers was an English sea captain, privateer, and, later, the first Royal Governor of the Bahamas. He is known as the captain of the vessel that rescued the marooned Alexander Selkirk, whose plight is generally believed to have inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.Rogers came from an...

, who, after a difficult struggle, succeeded in suppressing piracy. In 1720, Rogers led local militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 to drive off a Spanish attack
Battle of Nassau (1720)
The Raid on Nassau took place in February 1720 when a Spanish force attempted to assault the British settlement of Nassau during the War of the Quadruple Alliance....

.

During the American War of Independence, the islands were a target for American naval forces under the command of Commodore Ezekial Hopkins
Esek Hopkins
Commodore Esek Hopkins was the first and only Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War. He was also an accomplished merchant captain and privateer.-Early life and career:...

. The capital of Nassau on the island of New Providence was occupied by US Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 for a fortnight
Fortnight
The fortnight is a unit of time equal to fourteen days, or two weeks. The word derives from the Old English fēowertyne niht, meaning "fourteen nights"....

.

In 1782, following the British defeat at Yorktown
Siege of Yorktown
The Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Yorktown, or Surrender of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by a combined assault of American forces led by General George Washington and French forces led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis...

, a Spanish fleet appeared off the coast of Nassau, and the city surrendered without a fight
Capture of The Bahamas (1782)
The Capture of the Bahamas took place in May 1782 during the American War of Independence when a Spanish force under the command of Juan Manuel de Cagigal arrived on the island of New Providence near Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas...

.

After American independence, some 7,300 Loyalists
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 and their slaves moved to The Bahamas from New York, Florida, and The Carolinas. These Loyalists established plantations on several islands and became a political force in the capital. The small population became mostly African from this point on.

The British abolished the slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

 in 1807, which led to the forced settlement on Bahamian islands of thousands of Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. Slavery itself was finally abolished in the British Empire on August 1, 1834.

20th century


Modern political development began after the Second World War. The first political parties were formed in the 1950s and the British made the islands internally self-governing in 1964, with Sir Roland Symonette of the United Bahamian Party as the first premier.

The fourth James Bond film "Thunderball" (film)
Thunderball (film)
Thunderball is the fourth spy film in the James Bond series starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, which in turn was based on an original screenplay by Jack Whittingham...

, was partly filmed in 1965 in Nassau.

In 1967, Sir Lynden Pindling
Lynden Pindling
Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling KCMG, OM, JP , is generally regarded as the "Father of the Nation" of the Bahamas, having led it to Majority Rule on 10 January 1967 and then to independence on 10 July 1973. He served as the first black premier of the Colony of the Bahama Islands from 1967 to 1969 and as...

 of the Progressive Liberal Party became the first black premier of the colony, and in 1968 the title was changed to prime minister. In 1973, The Bahamas became fully independent, but retained membership in the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. Sir Milo Butler was appointed the first Bahamian governor-general (the representative of Queen Elizabeth II) shortly after independence.

Based on the twin pillars of tourism and offshore finance, the Bahamian economy has prospered since the 1950s. However, there remain significant challenges in areas such as education, health care, housing, international narcotics trafficking and illegal immigration from Haiti.

Geography and climate



The country lies between latitudes 20°
20th parallel north
The 20th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 20 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, North America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 28°N
28th parallel north
The 28th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 28 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 72°
72nd meridian west
The meridian 72° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 80°W
80th meridian west
The meridian 80° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Central America, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole.In Antarctica, the...

.

The closest island to the United States is Bimini
Bimini
Bimini is the westernmost district of the Bahamas composed of a chain of islands located about 53 miles due east of Miami, Florida. Bimini is the closest point in the Bahamas to the mainland United States and approximately 137 miles west-northwest of Nassau...

, which is also known as the gateway to The Bahamas. The island of Abaco
Abaco Islands
The Abaco Islands lie in the northern Bahamas and comprise the main islands of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, together with the smaller Wood Cay, Elbow Cay, Lubbers Quarters Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana Cay, Castaway Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Stranger's Cay, Umbrella Cay, Walker's Cay, Little Grand...

 is to the east of Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama is one of the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and the closest major island to the United States, lying off the state of Florida. Grand Bahama is the fifth largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays...

. The southeasternmost island is Inagua
Inagua
Inagua is the southernmost district of the Bahamas comprising the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua.Great Inagua is the third largest island in The Bahamas at 596 sq mi and lies about 55 miles from the eastern tip of Cuba. The island is about 55 x 19 miles in extent, the highest point...

. The largest island is Andros Island. Other inhabited islands include Eleuthera
Eleuthera
Eleuthera is an island in The Bahamas, lying 50 miles east of Nassau. It is very long and thin—110 miles long and in places little more than a mile wide. According to the 2000 Census, the population of Eleuthera is approximately 8,000...

, Cat Island, Long Island
Long Island, Bahamas
Long Island is an island in the Bahamas that is split by the Tropic of Cancer. Its capital is Clarence Town. Long Island is one of the Districts of the Bahamas and is known as the most scenic island in the Bahamas. The population is roughly 4,000 inhabitants.-Geography:Long Island is about 130...

, San Salvador Island
San Salvador Island
San Salvador Island, also known as Watlings Island, is an island and district of the Bahamas. Until 1986, when the National Geographic Society suggested Samana Cay, it was widely believed that during his first expedition to the New World, San Salvador Island was the first land sighted and visited...

, Acklins
Acklins
Acklins is an island and district of the Bahamas.It is one of a group of islands arranged along a large, shallow lagoon called the Bight of Acklins, of which the largest are Crooked Island in the north and Acklins in the southeast, and the smaller are Long Cay [ 8sq mi] in the northwest, and...

, Crooked Island
Crooked Island (Bahamas)
Crooked Island is an island and district, part of a group of Bahamian islands defining a large, shallow lagoon called the Bight of Acklins, of which the largest are Crooked Island in the north and Acklins in the south-east, and the smaller are Long Cay in the north-west, and Castle Island in the...

, Exuma
Exuma
Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands . The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma by a small bridge. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town , founded 1793 and located on Great...

 and Mayaguana
Mayaguana
Mayaguana is the most easterly island and district of the Bahamas. It is one of only a few Bahamian islands which retain their Lucayan names. The population of Mayaguana in the 2000 census was 259, amounting to an estimate 312 in 2010...

. Nassau
Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 248,948 , 70 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas...

, capital city of The Bahamas, lies on the island of New Providence
New Providence
New Providence is the most populous island in the Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It also houses the national capital city, Nassau.The island was originally under Spanish control following Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World, but the Spanish government showed...

.

All the islands are low and flat, with ridges that usually rise no more than 15 to 20 m (49.2 to 65.6 ft). The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia
Mount Alvernia
Mount Alvernia is located on Cat Island in the Bahamas and is the highest point in the country at above sea level. The Mountain shares its name with a school in Montego Bay, Jamaica....

, formerly called Como Hill, which has an altitude of 63 metres (206.7 ft) on Cat Island.

To the southeast, the Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the Caribbean, the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands, known for tourism and as an offshore financial centre.The Turks and...

, and three more extensive submarine features called Mouchoir Bank
Mouchoir Bank
Mouchoir Bank, in Spanish also called Banco de Pañuelo Blanco is located southeast of the Turks islands and is geographically a continuation of the Bahamas. It is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands and falls within its EEZ. Much of its north side is awash in two groupings of coral reef. A 1.8 m...

, Silver Bank
Silver Bank
Silver Bank is an area in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Dominican Republic and southeast of the Territory of Turks & Caicos. It covers an area of 1680 km² . It is separated from Mouchoir Bank in the west by Silver Bank Passage, and from Navidad Bank in the east by Navidad Bank Passage...

, and Navidad Bank
Navidad Bank
Navidad Bank is an area in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Dominican Republic and southeast of the Territory of Turks & Caicos. It is separated from Silver Bank by the wide Navidad Bank Passage. It is a shallow underwater area composed of coral and sand that almost reaches the ocean's surface, but...

, are geographically a continuation of The Bahamas, but not part of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Climate



The climate of The Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew was the third Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States, after the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Andrew was the first named storm and only major hurricane of the otherwise inactive 1992 Atlantic hurricane season...

 hit the northern islands during the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season
1992 Atlantic hurricane season
The 1992 Atlantic hurricane season had one of the latest dates on record for the first named storm. The season officially began on June 1, 1992, and lasted until November 30, 1992. It was the least active hurricane season in nine years due to a strong El Niño...

, and Hurricane Floyd
Hurricane Floyd
Hurricane Floyd was the sixth named storm, fourth hurricane, and third major hurricane in the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. Floyd triggered the third largest evacuation in US history when 2.6 million coastal residents of five states were ordered from their homes as it approached...

 hit most of the islands during the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season.

While there has never been a freeze reported in The Bahamas, the temperature can fall as low as 2 – during Arctic outbreaks that affect nearby Florida. Snow was reported to have mixed with rain in Freeport in January 1977, the same time that it snowed in the Miami area. The temperature was about 4.5 °C (40.1 °F) at the time.

Government and politics




The Bahamas is a sovereign
Sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

, independent
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

, nation. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom and the Westminster system
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

.
The Bahamas is a parliamentary democracy with two main parties, the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party.

Tourism generates about half of all jobs, but the number of visitors has dropped significantly since the beginning of the global economic downturn during the last quarter of 2008. Banking and international financial services also have contracted, and The Bahamas is one of 34 secrecy jurisdictions that would be subject to the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act introduced in the U.S. Congress.

The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, and a Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

 with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 (represented by a Governor-General).

Legislative power
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 is vested in a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

, which consists of a 41-member House of Assembly (the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

), with members elected from single-member districts
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

, and a 16-member Senate, with members appointed by the governor-general, including nine on the advice of the prime minister, four on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and three on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition. The House of Assembly carries out all major legislative functions. As under the Westminster system, the prime minister may dissolve parliament and call a general election at any time within a five-year term.

The Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 is the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Assembly. Executive power
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 is exercised by the cabinet, selected by the prime minister and drawn from his supporters in the House of Assembly. The current governor-general is Sir Arthur Foulkes
Arthur Foulkes
Sir Arthur Alexander Foulkes, GCMG is the Governor-General of the Bahamas.Foulkes was elected to the House of Assembly in 1967 and served in the government of Lynden Pindling as Minister of Communications and Minister of Tourism...

 and the current Prime Minister is Hubert Ingraham
Hubert Ingraham
Hubert Alexander Ingraham is the Prime Minister of the Bahamas. He first served as Prime Minister from August 1992 until May 2002 and became Prime Minister again in 2007. He is a member of the Free National Movement Party . The Rt. Hon. Hubert A...

.

The Bahamas has a largely two-party system
Two-party system
A two-party system is a system where two major political parties dominate voting in nearly all elections at every level of government and, as a result, all or nearly all elected offices are members of one of the two major parties...

 dominated by the centre-left
Centre-left
Centre-left is a political term that describes individuals, political parties or organisations such as think tanks whose ideology lies between the centre and the left on the left-right spectrum...

 Progressive Liberal Party
Progressive Liberal Party
The Progressive Liberal Party is a populist party in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas commonly abbreviated PLP. The PLP lies on the left of the political spectrum....

 and the centre-right
Centre-right
The centre-right or center-right is a political term commonly used to describe or denote individuals, political parties, or organizations whose views stretch from the centre to the right on the left-right spectrum, excluding far right stances. Centre-right can also describe a coalition of centrist...

 Free National Movement
Free National Movement
The Free National Movement is a socially liberal and economically conservative political party in The Bahamas. It is currently the ruling party, winning 23 of the 41 seats in the Bahamas House of Assembly on May 2, 2007; two of these seats are currently being contested in Electorial Court by the...

. A handful of splinter parties have been unable to win election to parliament. These parties have included the Bahamas Democratic Movement
Bahamas Democratic Movement
The Bahamas Democratic Movement was a liberal populist political party in the Bahamas without parliamentary representation.-Party formation:...

, the Coalition for Democratic Reform and the Bahamian Nationalist Party.

Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. Although The Bahamas is not geographically located in the Caribbean, it is a member of the Caribbean Community
Caribbean Community
The Caribbean Community is an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy...

. The judiciary
Judicial independence
Judicial Independence is the idea that the judiciary needs to be kept away from the other branches of government...

 is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

.

Administrative divisions


The districts of The Bahamas provide a system of local government everywhere except New Providence
New Providence
New Providence is the most populous island in the Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It also houses the national capital city, Nassau.The island was originally under Spanish control following Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World, but the Spanish government showed...

, whose affairs are handled directly by the central government. In 1996, the Bahamian Parliament passed "The Local Government Act" to facilitate the establishment of Family Island Administrators, Local Government Districts, Local District Councillors, and Local Town Committees for the various island communities. The overall goal of this act is to allow the various elected leaders to govern and oversee the affairs of their respective districts without the interference of Central Government. In total, there are 32 districts, with elections being held every three years. There are also one hundred and ten Councillors and two hundred and eighty-one Town Committee members to correspond with the various districts.

Each Councillor or Town Committee member is responsible for the proper use of public funds for the maintenance and development of their constituency.

The districts other than New Providence are:

Military



The Bahamas does not have an army or an air force. Its military is composed of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), the navy of The Bahamas. Under The Defence Act, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has been mandated to defend The Bahamas, protect its territorial integrity, patrol its waters, provide assistance and relief in times of disaster, maintain order in conjunction with the law enforcement agencies of The Bahamas, and carry out any such duties as determined by the National Security Council. The Defence Force is also a member of Caricom's Regional Security Task Force.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force officially came into existence on March 31, 1980. Their duties include defending the Bahamas, stopping drug smuggling, illegal immigration, poaching, and providing assistance to mariners whenever and wherever they can. The Defence Force has a fleet of 26 coastal and inshore patrol craft along with 2 aircraft and over 850 personnel including 65 officers and 74 women.

National flag



The colors embodied in the design of the Bahamian flag symbolise the image and aspirations of the people of The Bahamas; the design reflects aspects of the natural environment (sun, sand, and sea) and the economic and social development. The flag is a black equilateral triangle against the mast, superimposed on a horizontal background made up of two colours on three equal stripes of aquamarine, gold and aquamarine.

The symbolism of the flag is as follows: Black, a strong colour, represents the vigour and force of a united people, the triangle pointing towards the body of the flag represents the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop and possess the rich resources of sun and sea symbolized by gold and aquamarine respectively. In reference to the representation of the people with the colour black, some white Bahamians have joked that they are represented in the thread which "holds it all together."

Coat of arms



The Coat of Arms of The Bahamas contains a shield with the national symbols as its focal point. The shield is supported by a marlin
Marlin
Marlin, family Istiophoridae, are fish with an elongated body, a spear-like snout or bill, and a long rigid dorsal fin, which extends forward to form a crest. Its common name is thought to derive from its resemblance to a sailor's marlinspike...

 and a flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingos or flamingoes are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus , the only genus in the family Phoenicopteridae...

, which are the national animals of The Bahamas. The flamingo is located on the land, and the marlin on the sea, indicating the geography of the islands.

On top of the shield is a conch shell, which represents the varied marine life of the island chain. The conch shell rests on a helmet. Below this is the actual shield, the main symbol of which is a ship representing the Santa María
Santa María (ship)
La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción , was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa.-History:...

of Christopher Columbus, shown sailing beneath the sun. Along the bottom, below the shield appears a banner upon which is scripted the national motto:
"Forward, Upward, Onward Together."

National flower


The yellow elder
Tecoma stans
Tecoma stans is a species of flowering perennial shrub in the trumpet vine family, Bignoniaceae, that is native to the Americas. Common names include Yellow Trumpetbush, Yellow Bells , Yellow Elder, Ginger-thomas, and Esperanza...

 was chosen as the national flower of The Bahamas because it is native to the Bahama Islands, and it blooms throughout the year.

Selection of the yellow elder over many other flowers was made through the combined popular vote of members of all four of New Providence's garden clubs of the 1970s – the Nassau Garden Club, the Carver Garden Club, the International Garden Club, and the YWCA Garden Club.

They reasoned that other flowers grown there – such as the bougainvillea, hibiscus, and poinciana – had already been chosen as the national flowers of other countries. The yellow elder, on the other hand, was unclaimed by other countries (although it is now also the national flower of the United States Virgin Islands).

Economy


One of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean region, The Bahamas relies on tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP, but provides jobs for more than half the country's workforce. After tourism, the next most important economic sector is financial services, accounting for some 15 percent of GDP.

The government has adopted incentives to encourage foreign financial business, and further banking and finance reforms are in progress. The government plans to merge the regulatory functions of key financial institutions, including the Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBB) and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Central Bank administers restrictions and controls on capital and money market instruments. The Bahamas International Securities Exchange currently consists of 19 listed public companies. Reflecting the relative soundness of the banking system (mostly populated by Canadian banks), the impact of the global financial crisis on the financial sector has been limited.

The economy has a very competitive tax regime. The government derives its revenue from import tariffs, license fees, property and stamp taxes, but there is no income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, value-added tax (VAT), or wealth tax. Payroll taxes fund social insurance benefits. In the most recent year, Overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is 21.8 percent. Authorities are trying to increase tax compliance and collection in the wake of the global crisis. Inflation has been moderate, averaging 3.7 percent between 2006 and 2008.

By the terms of GDP per capita, the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.

Afro-Bahamians


Afro-Bahamian
Afro-Bahamian
Afro-Bahamians or Bahamians of African descent are Bahamians whose ancestry lies within the continent of Africa, most notably West Africa...

s or Bahamians of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n descent are Bahamians whose ancestry lies within the continent of Africa, most notably West Africa. The first Africans to arrive to The Bahamas came from Bermuda with the Eleutheran Adventurers
Eleutheran Adventurers
The Eleutheran Adventurers were a group of English Puritans and religious Independents who left Bermuda to settle on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas in the late 1640s...

 as freed slaves looking for a new life.
Currently, Afro-Bahamians are the largest ethnic group in The Bahamas, accounting for some 85% of the country's population.

Europeans


European Bahamian
European Bahamian
European Bahamians or Bahamians of European Descent are Bahamians whose ancestry lie within the continent of Europe. Most are the descendants of the British Puritans and American Loyalists who arrived in 1649 and 1783 respectively. A small portion of the European Bahamian population are the...

s, or Bahamians of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an descent, numbering about 38,000, are mainly the descendants of the British Puritans
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 and American Loyalists
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 who arrived in 1649 and 1783 respectively. They form the largest minority group in The Bahamas making up some 12% of the population. Many Southern Loyalists went to Abaco
Abaco Islands
The Abaco Islands lie in the northern Bahamas and comprise the main islands of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, together with the smaller Wood Cay, Elbow Cay, Lubbers Quarters Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana Cay, Castaway Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Stranger's Cay, Umbrella Cay, Walker's Cay, Little Grand...

, which is about 50% white.

A small portion of the European Bahamian population is descended from Greek
Greek Bahamians
Greek Bahamians, also called Bahamian Greeks, are the descendants of the Greek labourers who began coming to the Bahamas in 1887 to help develop the sponging industry.-Migration history:...

 labourers who came to help develop the sponging industry in the 1900s. Although making up less than 1% of the nation's population, they have been able to preserve their distinct Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 culture.

One of the most interesting, if sometimes confusing features of the Bahamian genealogy is that most families have branches, and even immediate family members, spanning the entire spectrum between ‘ light’, 'brown' and ‘unequivocally dark.’

Demographics

  • Population: 354,563
  • Age structure: 0–14 years: 25.9% (male 40,085; female 38,959)
15–64 years: 67.2% (male 102,154; female 105,482)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 8,772; female 12,704) (2009 est.)
  • Population growth rate: 0.925% (2010 est.)
  • Birth rate: 17.81 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
  • Death rate: 9.35 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
  • Net migration rate: -2.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
  • Infant mortality rate: 23.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
  • Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.87 years.
Female: 73.49 years (2002 est.)
Male: 66.32 years
  • Total fertility rate: 2.0 children born/woman (2010 est.)
  • Nationality: noun: Bahamian(s)
  • Adjective: Bahamian b
  • Ethnic groups: African 85%, European
    European Bahamian
    European Bahamians or Bahamians of European Descent are Bahamians whose ancestry lie within the continent of Europe. Most are the descendants of the British Puritans and American Loyalists who arrived in 1649 and 1783 respectively. A small portion of the European Bahamian population are the...

     12%, Asia
    Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

    n and Mestizo
    Mestizo
    Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

     3% (Roughly 1.5% each).
  • 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%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2% The 'other' category includes Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Hindus, Rastafarians, and practitioners of Obeah
    Obeah
    Obeah is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from West African, and specifically Igbo origin. Obeah is similar to other African derived religions including Palo, Voodoo, Santería, rootwork, and most of all hoodoo...

    .
  • Languages: English (official), Bahamian dialect
  • Literacy (age 15+): total population: 98.2%
male: 98.5%
female: 98% (1995 est.)

Culture



In the less developed outer islands, handicrafts include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called "straw", is plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items. Another use is for so-called "Voodoo dolls," even though such dolls are the result of the American imagination and not based on historic fact.

Although not practised by native Bahamians, a form of folk magic obeah
Obeah
Obeah is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from West African, and specifically Igbo origin. Obeah is similar to other African derived religions including Palo, Voodoo, Santería, rootwork, and most of all hoodoo...

 derived from West African origins, is practiced in some Family Islands (out-islands) of The Bahamas due to Haitian migration. The practice of obeah is however illegal in The Bahamas and punishable by law. Junkanoo
Junkanoo
Junkanoo is a street parade with music, which occurs in many towns across The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands every Boxing Day , New Year's Day and, more recently, in the summer on the island of Grand Bahama. The largest Junkanoo parade happens in Nassau, the capital...

 is a traditional African street parade of music, dance, and art held in Nassau (and a few other settlements) every Boxing Day
Boxing Day
Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth nations. In Ireland, it is recognized as...

, New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

. Junkanoo is also used to celebrate other holidays and events such as Emancipation Day.

Regatta
Regatta
A regatta is a series of boat races. The term typically describes racing events of rowed or sailed water craft, although some powerboat race series are also called regattas...

s are important social events in many family island settlements. They usually feature one or more days of sailing by old-fashioned work boats, as well as an onshore festival.

Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the "Pineapple Fest" in Gregory Town, Eleuthera
Eleuthera
Eleuthera is an island in The Bahamas, lying 50 miles east of Nassau. It is very long and thin—110 miles long and in places little more than a mile wide. According to the 2000 Census, the population of Eleuthera is approximately 8,000...

 or the "Crab Fest" on Andros. Other significant traditions include story telling.

General history

  • Cash Philip et al. (Don Maples, Alison Packer). The Making of The Bahamas: A History for Schools. London: Collins, 1978.
  • Albury, Paul. The Story of The Bahamas. London: MacMillan Caribbean, 1975.
  • Miller, Hubert W. The Colonization of The Bahamas, 1647–1670, The William and Mary Quarterly 2 no.1 (January 1945): 33–46.
  • Craton, Michael. A History of The Bahamas. London: Collins, 1962.
  • Craton, Michael and Saunders, Gail. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. Athens: University of Georgia Press
    University of Georgia Press
    The University of Georgia Press or UGA Press is a publishing house and is a member of the Association of American University Presses.Founded in 1938, the UGA Press is a division of the University of Georgia and is located on the campus in Athens, Georgia, USA...

    , 1992

Economic history

  • Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas in Slavery and Freedom. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishing, 1991.
  • Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas from Slavery to Servitude, 1783–1933. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1996.
  • Alan A. Block. Masters of Paradise, New Brunswick and London, Transaction Publishers, 1998.
  • Storr, Virgil H. Enterprising Slaves and Master Pirates: Understanding Economic Life in the Bahamas. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

Social history

  • Johnson, Wittington B. Race Relations in the Bahamas, 1784–1834: The Nonviolent Transformation from a Slave to a Free Society. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas
    University of Arkansas
    The University of Arkansas is a public, co-educational, land-grant, space-grant, research university. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with very high research activity. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and is located in...

    , 2000.
  • Shirley, Paul. "Tek Force Wid Force", History Today 54, no. 41 (April 2004): 30–35.
  • Saunders, Gail. The Social Life in the Bahamas 1880s–1920s. Nassau: Media Publishing, 1996.
  • Saunders, Gail. Bahamas Society After Emancipation. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishing, 1990.
  • Curry, Jimmy. Filthy Rich Gangster/First Bahamian Movie. Movie Mogul Pictures: 1996.
  • Curry, Jimmy. To The Rescue/First Bahamian Rap/Hip Hop Song. Royal Crown Records, 1985.

External links