The Bahamas reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Bahamas

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The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an independent English-speaking nation in the West Indies. An archipelago of 700 islands and cays (or keys), the Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida in the United States, north of Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean, and west of the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Flag of Bahamas
Bahamas Coat of Arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto:
Forward Upward Onward Together
Location of Bahamas
Official language English
Capital Nassau
Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont
Prime Minister Perry Christie
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 155th
13,940 km²
28%
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 168th
300,529
22/km²
Independence
 - Date
From the United Kingdom
July 10, 1973
Currency Bahamian dollar
Time zone UTC -5
National anthem March On, Bahamaland
Internet TLD.bs
Calling Code1

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Districts
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links

History

Main article: History of the Bahamas

Christopher Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492 is believed to have been on the island of San Salvador (also called Watling's Island), located in the southern Bahamas. He encountered friendly Arawak (also known as Lucayan) Amerindianss and exchanged gifts with them.

From the late 1400s until the 1600s, Spain controlled the Bahamas. In the 18th century, British Loyalists who had left New England due to increasing anti-British sentiments moved to the islands. Due to the large number of British settlers across the islands, custody of the chain was transferred from Spain to Britain, and the Bahama Islands were named a British colony in 1783.

In 1973, Bahamians voted for and received independence from Britain while remaining a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since attaining independence, the Bahamas has prospered through tourism, international banking, and investment management.

Politics

Main article: Politics of the Bahamas

Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state and the Queen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, which has remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. She is represented in the Bahamas by a Governor General of the Bahamas, appointed by the monarch herself. Head of government is the prime minister, usually the leader of the winning party of the elections for the parliament. The Bahamian parliament consists of two chambers, the Senate (with 16 members) and the House of Assembly (40). Elections are held every 5 years.

Districts

Main article: Districts of the Bahamas

The Bahamas is divided into 21 districts:

  • Acklins and Crooked Islands
  • Bimini
  • Cat Island
  • Exuma
  • Freeport
  • Fresh Creek
  • Governor's Harbour
  • Green Turtle Cay
  • Harbour Island
  • High Rock
  • Inagua

Geography

Main article: Geography of the Bahamas

Map of Bahamas

The largest island of the Bahamas is Andros, in the west. The island of New Providence, east of Andros, is the site of the capital city Nassau and home to about two-thirds of the total population. Other important islands are Grand Bahama in the north and Inagua in the south.

Most of the islands - coral formations - are relatively flat, with some low rounded hills, the highest of which is Mount Alvernia, on Cat Island, at 63 m. The local climate is tropical, moderated by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, with frequent hurricanes and tropical storms from May until October.

Economy

Main article: Economy of the Bahamas

The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs almost half of the archipelago's labour force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences have led to solid GDP growth in recent years.

Manufacturing and agriculture together 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, which depends on growth in the United States, the source of the majority of tourist visitors.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of the Bahamas

Most of the Bahamian population is black (85%); about 12% is white. The official language is English, spoken by virtually all inhabitants, though many speak a Creole form of it.

A heavily religious country, there are more places of worship per person in the Bahamas than any other nation in the world. Christianity is the main religion on the islands, with Baptists forming the largest denomination (about one third), followed by the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Many people, especially in the southern and eastern islands, practice obeah, a spiritistic religion similar to voodoo. It is common for Christians to involve elements of obeah in their own religions and daily lives. While popular throughout the Bahamas, obeah is shunned by many whites and people living in urban areas.

Culture

Main article: Culture of the Bahamas

Bahamanian culture is a hybrid of African, European and indigenous forms. Perhaps its most famous export is a rhythmic form of music called junkanoo.

See also: Music of the Bahamas

Miscellaneous topics

''Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook Bahamas 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.''

External links


Countries in West Indies
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago
Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | Bermuda | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands

Commonwealth of Nations
Antigua and Barbuda | Australia | Bahamas | Bangladesh | Barbados | Belize | Botswana | Brunei | Cameroon | Canada | Cyprus | Dominica | Fiji | The Gambia | Ghana | Grenada | Guyana | India | Jamaica | Kenya | Kiribati | Lesotho | Malawi | Malaysia | Maldives | Malta | Mauritius | Mozambique | Namibia | Nauru | New Zealand | Nigeria | Pakistan | Papua New Guinea | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Samoa | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Singapore | Solomon Islands | South Africa | Sri Lanka | Swaziland | Tanzania | Tonga | Trinidad and Tobago | Tuvalu | Uganda | United Kingdom | Vanuatu | Zambia

Logo of the OAS
Organization of American States (OAS)
Antigua and Barbuda | Argentina | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Bolivia | Brazil | Canada | Chile | Colombia | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Guyana | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | St. Kitts and Nevis | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago | United States | Uruguay | Venezuela

Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom)
Antigua and Barbuda | The Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago
Associate members: British Virgin Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands
Observer status: Anguilla | Aruba | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Mexico | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Venezuela
¹ A member of the community but not the common market.