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  • [Country flag of The Bahamas]

    The Bahamas

    [Country map of The Bahamas]

    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 (measured from the archipelagic straight baselines)
    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 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

    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

    Geography - note: strategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain

    People

    Population: 275,941 (July 1997 est.)

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 28% (male 39,280; female 38,755)
    15-64 years: 66% (male 89,483; female 93,479)
    65 years and over : 6% (male 6,209; female 8,735) (July 1997 est.)

    Population growth rate: 1.41% (1997 est.)

    Birth rate: 21.47 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Death rate: 5.45 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Net migration rate: -1.88 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
    under 15 years : 1.01 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

    Infant mortality rate: 19.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 73.75 years
    male: 70.36 years
    female : 77.2 years (1997 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 2.36 children born/woman (1997 est.)

    Nationality:
    noun: Bahamian(s)
    adjective: Bahamian

    Ethnic groups: black 85%, white 15%

    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 but definition of literacy not available
    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: commonwealth

    National 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 of the UK (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 queen is a hereditary monarch; governor general appointed by the queen; 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 34, PLP 6

    Judicial branch: Supreme Court

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

    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, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, 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 Sidney WILLIAMS
    embassy: Queen Street, Nassau
    mailing address: P. O. Box N-8197, Nassau; American Embassy, Nassau, P.O. Box 9009, Miami, FL 33159; Nassau, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-3370 (pouch)
    telephone: [1] (242) 322-1181, 328-2206
    FAX: [1] (242) 328-7838

    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 50% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs 40% of the archipelago's labor force. A slowdown in the expansion of the tourism sector - especially stopover travel from Europe - led to a reduction in the country's GDP growth rate in 1995, down to an estimated 2% from 3.5% in 1994. The construction sector benefited from hotel rehabilitation and the government's ongoing housing development program. Earnings from exports of vegetable and citrus production have been decreasing since 1993 but were expected to increase in 1996 due to storm damage to crops in Florida. 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 visits.

    GDP: purchasing power parity - $4.8 billion (1995 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate: 2% (1995 est.)

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $18,700 (1995 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
    agriculture : 3%
    industry: 6%
    services: 91% (1994)

    Inflation rate - consumer price index: 2.1% (1995)

    Labor force:
    total: 136,900 (1993)
    by occupation : government 30%, tourism 40%, business services 10%, agriculture 5% (1995 est.)

    Unemployment rate: 15% (1995 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $665 million
    expenditures: $725 million, including capital expenditures of $94 million (FY95/96 est.)

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

    Industrial production growth rate: NA%

    Electricity - capacity: 267,000 kW (1993)

    Electricity - production: 874 million kWh (1993)

    Electricity - consumption per capita: 2,717 kWh (1993)

    Agriculture - products: citrus, vegetables; poultry

    Exports:
    total value: $267.5 million (f.o.b., 1995)
    commodities: pharmaceuticals, cement, rum, crawfish, refined petroleum products
    partners: US 24%, Spain 14%, UK 7%, Norway 7%, France 6%, Italy 5% (1995 est.)

    Imports:
    total value : $1.17 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
    commodities: foodstuffs, manufactured goods, crude oil, vehicles, electronics
    partners : US 29%, Finland 10%, Iran 10%, Denmark 8%

    Debt - external: $393 million (1995)

    Economic aid: $NA

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

    Exchange rates: Bahamian dollar (B$) per US$1 - 1.00 (February 1997; fixed rate)

    Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

    Communications

    Telephones: 119,000 (1987 est.)

    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 2, shortwave 0

    Radios: 200,000 (1993 est.)

    Television broadcast stations: 1 (1986 est.)

    Televisions: 60,000 (1993 est.)

    Transportation

    Railways: 0 km

    Highways:
    total: 2,450 km
    paved: 1,406 km
    unpaved: 1,044 km (1995 est.)

    Ports and harbors: Freeport, Matthew Town, Nassau

    Merchant marine:
    total: 988 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 23,690,478 GRT/37,428,826 DWT
    ships by type: bulk 176, cargo 205, chemical tanker 41, combination bulk 7, combination ore/oil 23, container 56, liquefied gas tanker 21, oil tanker 184, passenger 47, refrigerated cargo 150, roll-on/roll-off cargo 53, short-sea passenger 11, vehicle carrier 14
    note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 46 countries among which are Norway 157, Greece 146, UK 128, US 69, Denmark 51, Sweden 34, Finland 32, Belgium 29, Japan 27, and Monaco 27; Bahamas owns 10 additional ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 256,379 DWT that operate under Panamanian and Cypriot registry (1996 est.)

    Airports: 54 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
    total : 47
    over 3,047 m: 2
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
    914 to 1,523 m: 12
    under 914 m: 17 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 7
    914 to 1,523 m: 7 (1996 est.)

    Military

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

    Military manpower - availability:
    males age 15-49: NA

    Military manpower - fit for military service:
    males : NA

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

    Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3.8% (FY95/96)

    Transnational Issues

    Disputes - international: none

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