OFFICIAL NAME: The Commonwealth of the Bahamas
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 13,935 Sq Km (5,380 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 291,800
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: The Bahamas is a series of long
flat coralline limestone islands in the West Atlantic Ocean.
There are nearly 700 islands and over 2,000 cays in the
archipelago, of which only about 40 islands are inhabited.
These islands comprise two oceanic banks, (1.) the Bahama
Bank and (2.) the Great Bahama Bank. The island's terrain,
for the most part, is low and flat with a few small lakes
and mangroves swamps. The shorelines are marked with coral
reefs and there are no navigable rivers. Major Cities (pop.
est.); Greater Nassau 172,000, Freeport/Lucaya 27,000 (1990).
Land Use; forested 32%, pastures 1%, agricultural-cultivated
1%, other 66% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Bahamas has a semitropical climate with two seasons.
(1.) The winter season from December to April and (2.) the summer season
from May to November, with relative humidity ranging from 60 to 100%. Average
annual precipitation is 1,320 mm (52 inches) and most rainfall occurs between
May to June and September to October. The hurricane season which lasts
from June to November does experience gale force winds, although normally
wind rarely exceeds 24 kmph (15 mph). Average temperature ranges in Nassau
are from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius (64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) in February
to 24 to 32 degrees Celsius (75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) in August.
PEOPLE: Approximately 72% of the population are of Black African
descent, while 14% are mixed and 13% are White. Many of the origin Black
African inhabitants arrived on the island, as it was the major staging
location for the slave trade or they were bought over by the British who
fled in the thousands from the British colonies in the US during the American
Revolution. More than 75% of the population inhabit New Providence or Grand
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 19 persons per sq km (49
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 59.1% urban, 40.9% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 48.5% male, 51.5% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
67.0 years male, 74.0 years female (1987). Age Breakdown; 38% under 15,
28% 15 to 29, 18% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1985).
Birth Rate; 20.2 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 5.9 per 1,000 (1989). Increase
Rate; 14.3 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 22.3 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with Baptists accounting for 32%
of the population, Anglicans for 20% and 18% are Roman Catholic. The remainder
are divided among other Protestant, Greek Orthodox and Jewish faiths.
LANGUAGES: The official language is English with the majority
of the population speaking British English, although American English is
having an increasing influence.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
6.7%, primary 15.4%, secondary 63.0%, higher 14.9% (1970). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 139,000 or 95.0% (1986).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1950 the US established a testing
ground for guided missiles in the Bahamas. During 1958 Black resentment
against economic and political discrimination led to a 19 day strike in
Nassau. The strike led to reforms that enabled the Bahamas to attain internal
self government in 1964. In 1963 the US founded an underwater defense training
center. On July 10, 1973 the Bahamas gained independence within the Commonwealth.
In 1983 allegations of widespread government corruption involving the money
from drug trafficking created a major scandal and a royal commission was
set up to investigate the allegations, however, no conclusive evidence
was found to implicate the Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling. Although,
two other cabinet ministers and many officials were implicated and subsequently
forced to resign. In 1991, new legislation was passed to strengthen the
competitiveness of the Bahamas as an offshore financial center and to institute
a stock exchange. Also during 1991 there was a severe downturn in tourist
arrivals and government revenues. As a result British Airways withdrew
its UK-Bahamas service in April 1991 leaving the country without a direct
air link to Europe. In August 1992 the Free National Movement led by Hubert
Ingraham won general elections thereby ending Prime Minister Lynden Pindling's
25 year rule. Also in the same month Hurricane Andrew swept through the
Bahamas causing some $250 million worth of damage and leaving 1,700 people
homeless. In Nov. 1992, Pindling resigned as leader of the Progressive
Liberal Party. In Feb. 1993, a Commission of Inquiry began investigations
into allegations of corruption and misuse of funds at Bahamasair, the national
airline as well as the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation and the Bahamas
Hotel Corporation. In May 1993, an agreement was signed to establish an
industrial park at Freeport for US, European and Asian high-tech companies.
In June 1993 a task force was appointed to undertake a feasibility study
of establishing a local securities market in the Bahamas. Also during 1993,
some 600 illegal Haitian immigrants had arrived by June with most of them
being deported by the authorities.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dollar (BD) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $3,059,000,000 (1993). National
Debt; USD $1,463,000,000 (1994). Imports; BD $1,801,000,000 (1991). Exports;
BD $1,517,000,000 (1991). Tourism Receipts; USD $1,333,000,000 (1994).
Balance of Trade; BD -$600,000,000 (1993). Economically Active Population;
136,900 or 51.5% of total population (1993). Unemployed; 20% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
Canada, the UK, other EU countries, Nigeria and Libya.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Fish, Fruit and Vegetables, Limestone, Okra,
Onions, Salt, Shellfish, Timber, Tomatoes.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Cement, Fishing, Forestry, Oil Refining, Pharmaceuticals,
Pipe Manufacturing, Rum and Liquor, Salt Mining, Steel, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Crude Oil, Chemicals, Fruit, Limestone, Petroleum
Products, Pulpwood, Rum, Salt, Seafoods, Tomatoes.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 4,100 km (2,548 mi)
(1984). Vehicles; cars 69,000 (1989), trucks and buses 14,000 (1989). Merchant
Marine; vessels 807 (1990), deadweight tonnage 22,365,394 (1990). Air Transport;
passenger-km 217,600,000 (135,210,000 passenger-mi) (1985), cargo ton-km
217,000 (149,000 short ton-mi) (1985).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 3 with a total circulation
of 35,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 134,000 (1994). Television; receivers
60,000 (1994). Telephones; units 79,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 850 (1994) total active duty personnel with 100% coast
guard while military expenditure accounts for 0.5% (1993) of the Gross
National Product (GNP).
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