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The Bahamas

PARADISE WITHIN REACH

Discover The Bahamas

known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an archipelagic state within the Lucayan Archipelago.

It consists of more than 700 islandscays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the United States state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The designation of “the Bahamas” can refer either to the country or to the larger island chain that it shares with the Turks and Caicos Islands. As stated in the mandate/manifesto of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Bahamas territory encompasses 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) of ocean space.

The Bahamas is the site of Columbus’ first landfall in the New World in 1492. At that time, the islands were inhabited by the Lucayan, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taino people. Although the Spanish never colonised The Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648, when English colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.

The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. After the American War of Independence, the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists in the Bahamas; they brought their slaves with them and established plantations on land grants. Africans constituted the majority of the population from this period. The slave trade was abolished by the British in 1807; slavery in the Bahamas was abolished in 1834. The Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves; the Royal Navy resettled Africans here liberated from illegal slave ships, American slaves and Seminoles escaped here from Florida, and the government freed American slaves carried on United States domestic ships that had reached the Bahamas due to weather. Today, Afro-Bahamians make up nearly 90% of the population.

The Bahamas became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1973, retaining the British monarch, then and currently Queen Elizabeth II, as its head of state. In terms of gross domestic product per capita, The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas (following the United States and Canada), with an economy based on tourism and finance.

Good to Know

Capital
Nassau
Visa Requirements
Visa not required for us citizens.
Languages spoken
English & Bahamian Creole
Currency used
Bahamian dollar (BSD) (US dollars widely accepted)
Area (km2)
13,878 km2 (5,358 sq mi)

Municipalities

The districts of the Bahamas provide a system of local government everywhere except New Providence (which holds 70% of the national population), 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 five years. There are 110 Councillors and 281 Town Committee members are elected to represent 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 Bahamas uses drive-on-the-Left traffic rules throughout the Commonwealth.