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Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Forward, Upward, Onward Together"
Anthem"March On, Bahamaland"
Royal anthem"God Save the Queen"
Capital Nassau
25°4′N 77°20′W / 25.067°N 77.333°W / 25.067; -77.333
Official language(s) English
Ethnic groups  85% Black (mainly West African), 12% European, 3% other
Demonym Bahamian
Government Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Governor-General Arthur Dion Hanna
 -  Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  Self-governing 1964 
 -  Full independence July 10, 1973[1] 
Area
 -  Total 13,878 km2 (160th)
5,358 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 28%
Population
 -  2009 estimate 330,000[2] (177th)
 -  1990 census 254,685 
 -  Density 23.27/km2 (181st)
60/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $9.383 billion[3] (145th)
 -  Per capita $27,470[3] (38th)
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $7.564 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $22,359[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.856[4] (high) (52nd)
Currency Dollar (BSD)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 -  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .bs
Calling code +1-242

The Bahamas (pronounced /ðə bəˈhɑːməz/), officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an English-speaking country consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets (rocks). It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the Caribbean Sea, northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States of America (nearest to the state of Florida). Its total land area is almost 14 000 km², with an estimated population of 330,000. Its capital is Nassau.

Originally inhabited by Arawakan Taino people, The Bahamas were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492. Although the Spanish never colonised The Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans (as the Bahamian Taino settlers referred to themselves) to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1650, when British colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.

The Bahamas became a crown colony in 1718 when the British clamped down on piracy. Following the American War of Independence, thousands of pro-British loyalists and enslaved Africans moved to The Bahamas and set up a plantation economy. The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 and many Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled in The Bahamas during the 19th century. Slavery itself was abolished in 1834 and the descendants of enslaved and liberated African form the bulk of The Bahamas's population today.

Economic activity is mostly based on tourism and financial services. A relatively high degree of economic freedom has made The Bahamas one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean region. The financial sector’s domestic and offshore activities contribute around 15 percent of GDP. 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 was 21.8 per cent.

The Bahamas has the 47th freest economy in the world according to the Heritage Foundation 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. The Bahamas is ranked 7th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its overall score is higher than the regional and world averages. Total government spending, including consumption and transfer payments, is relatively low. In the most recent year, government spending equaled 23.4 percent of GDP. Authorities are committed to improving the transparency of budget planning. Annual FDI into The Bahamas is $700 million a year. The Bahamian legal system is based on British common law.

Contents

History

Map of The Bahamas

Taino people moved into the uninhabited southern Bahamas from Hispaniola and Cuba around the 7th century AD. These people came to be known as the Lucayans. There were an estimated 30,000+ Lucayans at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492. Christopher Columbus's first landfall in the New World was on an island named San Salvador (known to the Lucayans as Guanahani), which is generally accepted to be present-day San Salvador Island, (also known as Watling's Island) in the southeastern Bahamas.

An alternative theory holds that Columbus landed to the southeast on Samana Cay, according to calculations made in 1986 by National Geographic writer and editor Joseph Judge 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 Spaniards who followed Columbus depopulated the islands, carrying most of the indigenous people off into slavery. The Lucayans throughout The Bahamas were wiped out by exposure to diseases to which they had no immunity.[5] The smallpox that ravaged the Taino indians after Columbus's arrival wiped out half of the population in what is now The Bahamas.[6]

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. These English Puritans established the first permanent European settlement on an island which they named Eleuthera—the name derives from the Greek word for freedom. They later settled New Providence, 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 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.[7]

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18th century

During proprietary rule, the Bahamas became a haven for pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard. To restore orderly government, The Bahamas were made a British crown colony in 1718 under the royal governorship of Woodes Rogers, who, after a difficult struggle, succeeded in suppressing piracy.[8] In 1720 he led local militia to drive off a Spanish attack.

During the American War of Independence, the islands were a target for American naval forces under the command of Commodore Ezekial Hopkins. The capital of Nassau on the island of New Providence was occupied by US Marines for a fortnight.

In 1782, following the British defeat at Yorktown, a Spanish fleet appeared off the coast of Nassau, which surrendered without a fight.

After American independence, some 7,300 loyalists and their slaves moved to the Bahamas from New York, Florida and the Carolinas. These Americans 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 in 1807, which led to the forced settlement on Bahamian islands of thousands of Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy. 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 Roland Symonette of the United Bahamian Party as the first premier.

In 1967, Lynden Pindling 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. Sir Milo Butler was appointed the first black 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, international narcotics trafficking and illegal immigration from Haiti.

The origin of the name "Bahamas" is unclear. It may derive from the Spanish baja mar, meaning "shallow seas";[citation needed] or the Lucayan word for Grand Bahama Island, ba-ha-ma "large upper middle land".[9]

Geography and climate

Wettest tropical cyclones in the Bahamas
Precipitation Storm Location
Rank (mm) (in)
1 747.5 29.43 Noel 2007 Long Island[10]
2 508.0 20.00 Donna 1960 [11]
3 436.6 17.19 Flora 1963 Duncan Town[12]
4 390.1 15.36 Inez 1966 Nassau Airport[12]
5 321.1 12.64 Michelle 2001 Nassau[13]
6 309.4 12.18 Erin 1995 Church Grove[14]
7 279.4 10.00 Isidore 1984 Nassau[15]
8 260.0 9.88 Fay 2008 Freeport[16]
9 236.7 9.32 Floyd 1999 Little Harbor Abacos[17]
10 216.4 8.52 Cleo 1964 West End[12]

The closest island to the United States is Bimini, which is also known as the gateway to The Bahamas. The island of Abaco is to the east of Grand Bahama. The southeasternmost island is Inagua. The largest island is Andros Island. Other inhabited islands include Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana. Nassau, capital city of The Bahamas, lies on the island of New Providence.

The Bahamas from space. NASA Aqua satellite image, 2009

All the islands are low and flat, with ridges that usually rise no more than 15 to 20 m (49 to 66 ft). The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia, formerly called Como Hill, which has an altitude of 63 metres (207 ft) on Cat Island.

To the southeast, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and three more extensive submarine features called Mouchoir Bank, Silver Bank, and Navidad Bank, are geographically a continuation of The Bahamas, but not part of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.[citation needed]

The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter.[18] Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew hit the northern islands during the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season, and Hurricane Floyd hit most of the islands during the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Frances hit in 2004. Also in 2004, the northern Bahamas were hit by a less potent Hurricane Jeanne. In 2005 the northern islands were once again struck, this time by Hurricane Wilma. In Grand Bahama, storm surges and high winds destroyed homes and schools, floated graves and made roughly 1,000 people homeless.

While there has never been a freeze reported in the Bahamas, the temperature can fall as low as 2–3 °C 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.[19] The temperature was about 5 °C at the time.[20]

Districts

The districts of the Bahamas provide a system of local government everywhere except New Providence, whose affairs are handled directly by the central government. The districts other than New Providence are:

National Symbols

Flag of the Bahamas.svg

Flag

The colours embodied in the design of the Bahamian flag symbolize 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."

The Coat of Arms was kept due to its attractiveness to tourists.

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 and flamingo.

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 of Christopher Columbus. It is sailing beneath the sun. The animals supporting the shield are the national animals, and the national motto appears at the bottom. The flamingo is located on the land, and the marlin on the sea, indicating the geography of the islands.

The yellow elder flower blooms year-round in The Bahamas

National Flower

The yellow elder 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).

Government and politics

Bahamian Parliament, located in downtown Nassau
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham

The Bahamas is a sovereign independent nation. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom and the Westminster system. 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 Bahamian archipelago is a way station for drug smugglers and illegal aliens seeking to enter the United States. Aggressive anti–money laundering efforts have caused some offshore banks to incur losses and leave the country. The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state (represented by a Governor-General).

Legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament, which consists of a 41-member House of Assembly (the lower house), with members elected from single-member districts, 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 is the head of government and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Assembly. Executive power 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 Arthur Dion Hanna and the current Prime Minister is Hubert Ingraham.

The Bahamas has a largely two-party system dominated by the centre-left Progressive Liberal Party and the centre-right Free National Movement. A handful of splinter parties have been unable to win election to parliament. These parties have included the Bahamas Democratic Movement, 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. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English law.

Economy

Cruise ships in Nassau Harbor

The financial sector is the economy’s second most important sector, accounting for around 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. Restrictions and controls on capital and money market instruments exist, and are administered by the Central Bank. 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.

According to the World Bank, the Bahamas’ weighted average tariff rate was a high 23.9 percent in 2006. High tariffs and a “stamp” tax on certain imports, high duties that protect a few agricultural items and consumer goods, occasional import bans, and some import licensing and permits add to the cost of trade. Overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 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.

Demographics

Population: 309,156 (July 2009 est.)

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: 0.536% (2009 est.)

Birth rate: 16.81 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)

Death rate: 9.32 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 23.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.87 years. Female: 73.49 years (2002 est.) Male: 66.32 years

Total fertility rate: 2.28 children born/woman (2002 est.)

Nationality: noun: Bahamian(s)

Adjective: Bahamian (pronounced /bəˈheɪmɪən/)

Ethnic groups: 85% Black, 12% White, 3% Asian

Religions: Baptist 32%, Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 19%, Methodist 6%, Church of God 6%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2%[21] The 'other' category includes Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Hindus, Rastafarians, and practitioners of Obeah.[22]

Languages: English (official), Bahamian Dialect[23],

Literacy (age 15+): total population: 98.2% male: 98.5% female: 98% (1995 est.)[24]

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.[25]

Junkanoo celebration in Nassau

Although not practised by native Bahamians, a form of folk magic obeah 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[26].

Junkanoo is a traditional African street parade of music, dance, and art held in Nassau (and a few other settlements) every Boxing Day, New Year's Day. Junkanoo is also used to celebrate other holidays and events such as Emancipation Day.

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

See also

Member of

References

  1. ^ "1973: Bahamas' sun sets on British Empire". BBC News. July 9, 1973. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/9/newsid_2498000/2498835.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  2. ^ Population estimates for the Bahamas take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Bahamas". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=313&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=52&pr.y=15. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2009: Bahamas". The United Nations. http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_BHS.html. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  5. ^ "Looking for Columbus". Joanne E. Dumene. Five Hundred Magazine. April 1990, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 11–15
  6. ^ Schools Grapple With Columbus's Legacy: Intrepid Explorer or Ruthless Conqueror?. Education Week. October 9, 1991.
  7. ^ "Diocesan History". © Copyright 2009 Anglican Communications Department. 2009. http://bahamas.anglican.org/history.php. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  8. ^ [|Woodard, Colin] (2007). The Republic of Pirates. Harcourt, Inc. pp. 166–168, 262–314. ISBN 978-0-15-603462-3. http://www.republicofpirates.net. 
  9. ^ Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles by Julian Granberry and Gary Vescelius
  10. ^ Brown, Daniel (2007-12-17). "Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Noel (28 October - 2 November 2007)". National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL162007_Noel.pdf. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  11. ^ Turks and Caicos Islands Red Cross (2007). Turks and Caicos Islands 2007 Hurricane Guide. Retrieved on 2008-06-15.
  12. ^ a b c David Roth (2009). Tropical Cyclone Rainfall Maxima. Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Retrieved on 2007-03-15.
  13. ^ Beven, Jack (2002-01-23). "Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Michelle (29 October - 5 November 2001)". National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2001michelle.html. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  14. ^ Rappaport, Edward (1995-11-26). "Preliminary Report: Hurricane Erin (31 July - 6 August 1995)". National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/1995erin.html. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (1984-09-27). "Floridians Batten Down As Storm Gains Strength". Daily Herald. http://thehurricanearchive.com/Viewer.aspx?img=24763142_clean&firstvisit=true&src=search&currentResult=8&currentPage=10. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  16. ^ Stacey R. Stewart and John L. Beven III (2009). Tropical Cyclone Report: Tropical Storm Fay 15-26 August 2008. National Hurricane Center. Retrieved on 2009-02-09.
  17. ^ Pasch, Richard (1999-11-18). "Preliminary Report: Hurricane Floyd (7 - 17 September 1999)". National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/1999floyd.html. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  18. ^ Location and General Description Bahamian dry forests, The Encyclopedia of Earth
  19. ^ The Weather Doctor
  20. ^ Walker, N.D., Roberts, H.H., Rouse, L.J. and Huh, O.K. (1981, November 5). Thermal History of Reef-Associated Environments During A Record Cold-Air Outbreak Event. Coral Reefs (1982) 1:83-87
  21. ^ Religion, Faith and God in the Bahamas – accessed 8 August 2008
  22. ^ Bahamas – International Religious Freedom Report 2005 – accessed 8 August 2008
  23. ^ Bahamas Languages – accessed August 8, 2008
  24. ^ The Bahamas guide
  25. ^ Hurbon, Laennec. "American Fantasy and Haitian Vodou.” Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. Ed. Donald J. Cosentino. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1995. 181–97.
  26. ^ [1]

Further reading

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, 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 Bahamaz. 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, 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.
  • Morrelo, Ryan. "

External links



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Bahamas article)

From Wikitravel

noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:bf-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Nassau
Government constitutional parliamentary democracy
Currency Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Area 13,940 sq km
Population 303,770 (July 2006 est.)
Language English, Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
Religion Baptist 32%, Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 19%, Methodist 6%, Church of God 6%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2%
Electricity 120V/60Hz (North American plug)
Calling Code +1-242
Internet TLD .bs
Time Zone UTC -5

The Bahamas is a tropical island chain in the Caribbean Sea, popular as a tourist destination.

Map of the Bahamas
Map of the Bahamas

Other destinations

Several cruise lines operate private island retreats in the Bahamas. Disney Cruise Line owns Castaway Cay, Norweigan Cruise Line owns Great Stirrup Cay, Princess Cruise Line owns Little Stirrup Cay, and Royal Caribbean owns Coco Cay. To visit these islands you usually have to be a passenger on the cruise line that owns the island.

Dolphin Encounters is an all natural seawater dolphin facility with Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and California Sea Lions located on Blue Lagoon Island, (Salt Cay), a private island retreat and tourist attraction 5 km (three miles) from Nassau, Bahamas.

Where did Columbus land?

When Christopher Columbus first arrived in the West Indies in 1492, he landed on a Bahamian island he named San Salvador. The island now presently known as San Salvador (formerly called Watling Island) has long been thought to be the island where Columbus landed. But in truth, historians do not agree on the exact site of the landing. The possibility narrows between two islands: San Salvador itself and Samana Cay, about 80 miles southeast.

Arawak Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World on San Salvador Island in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. Because of its geography, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US.

Culture

The populace is predictably friendly and more religious than one might expect: the Bahamas have one of the highest ratios of churches per capita in the world, with Baptists being the largest single group. Local newspapers will reveal religious references by elected officials in a manner that exceeds what would be found in the United States. This devotion does nothing to prohibit the activities of visitors nor is it intended to. There is a very "libertarian" attitude about personal morals.

Festivals

The biggest event in the Bahamian calendar is Junkanoo, a street carnival held on Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year's Day (January 1). Junkanoo groups "rush" through the streets of towns, especially Nassau, wearing spectacular yet disposable costumes of crepe paper and playing distinctive Junkanoo music, which combines African rhythms with loud brass and cowbells, fusing them together in a medley that veers on cacophony but is exceedingly dancable. The costumes, made from scratch every year, are disposed of on the streets as the party ends and make a great free souvenir to bring home!Bahamas is also the site of Ms.Universe 2009

Climate

Tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream. Hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage. Can be cool if trade winds shift.

Terrain

Long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills. The highest point is Mount Alvernia (63 m), on Cat Island.

Electricity

Officially 120V 60Hz, which is identical to the U.S. and Canadian standard. Outlets are North American grounded outlets, identical to standard U.S. and Canadian wall outlets. Occasionally non-grounded outlets may be found, which do not accept the third, round pin present on grounded plugs, and require an adapter. Older North American outlets may not be polarized (with one slot wider than the other). Otherwise, adapters are available which accept a polarized plug and adapt it for use with a non-polarized outlet.

Yachts aplenty, Paradise Island
Yachts aplenty, Paradise Island

Visitors from most industrialized countries (including US, Canada, EU and Japan) do not need an advance visa for stays of up to three months. Visitors do not need to complete the Customs form.

Travelers returning to the United States from the Caribbean must display their passport to get back into the States. This applies to minor children as well as adults. US immigration pre-clearance facilities are available at Nassau and Freeport.

By plane

The largest airports in the Bahamas are at the capital Nassau, on New Providence, and Freeport, on Grand Bahama.

By boat

The Bahamas are a popular port of call for cruise ships plying the Caribbean. The capital, Nassau, on New Providence Island is one of the world's busiest cruise ship ports, and is well served by ships that originate from Florida. Freeport on Grand Bahama Island is a growing destination as well.

Most island groups have customs and immigration available for those arriving by yacht. The customs fee for a private yacht is $150 for 35' and under and $300 for over 35'.

Royal Carribean has their own island in the Bahamas called Coco Cay. This island is leased by Royal Carribean, rather than being fully owned such as Disney's ownership arrangement for Castaway Cay. It is strictly for Royal Carribean cruisers. The island has 25 little shops for souvineers and their own private beaches, as well as water games in the middle of the clear crystal blue ocean. They have a bbq and main picnic area with the cruise employees as well as the people that Royal Carribean hire to live and work on the island. Royal Carribean is busy all year round because of the hot climate in the bahamas, that they have frequent travelers through all the months of the year.

Disney's Castaway Cay, formerly known as Gorda Cay, is a privately owned island near the island of Abaco, close to Sandy Point. This island differs from most of the leased cays in the fact that it is privately owned by The Walt Disney Company and has it's own dock so that tendering is not necessary. Castaway Cay has separate areas for families, teens an adults. The island also contains a fiber optic network which connects to the ship.

Get around

By plane

Bahamasair [1] offers a comprehensive network radiating out from Nassau and covering most population centers. However, fares are expensive, frequencies are low, planes are small and the airline is notorious for extensive delays, and many travellers in a hurry opt to charter planes instead.

By bus

Nassau/New Providence have a system of buses called jitneys, discussed in the Nassau article. Bus travel on the other islands (with the exception of Grand Bahama) is very limited.

By taxi

Taxis are very expensive. A short ride from the airport to Cable beach costs $18, to downtown is $26. Between Cable beach and downtown expect to pay $15-$20 with no room to negotiate.

  • Mail boats serve almost all populated islands in the Bahamas, and are amongst the cheapest way to reach many areas, though far from the fastest or most comfortable. The government has a mailboat schedule of mailboat routes online [2] which may or may not reflect reality.
  • Windward Islands[3], a yacht charter company, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to crewed yacht in the Bahamas (starting Abaco).

Buy

The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (B$), but it's tied to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio and US dollars are accepted everywhere at par. There is thus no need for Americans to change money, and many tourist-oriented businesses will even give change back in US$. Do keep an eye out for the famous (but now rare) three-dollar bill and 15-cent coin, both originally made to ease the 1966 transition from British pounds to dollars, $3 being roughly equivalent to £1 and $0.15 approximating a shilling.

There is very little made in the Bahamas, but some luxury goods can be purchased at a bargain. Salespeople in the straw market have a very direct but often humorous manner of negotiating the price of a product. A sense of humor is greatly appreciated in this island nation.

Beware of purchasing Cuban cigars. The vast majority of "Cubans" for sale in the Bahamas are counterfeit. Only buy cigars from reputable and dedicated tobacconists, do not buy on the street, in the market, or from rinky-dink combination cigar/liquor shops. Real Cubans cost upwards of $30 USD per cigar. If the price is $10, it's 100% fauxhiba. If you do plan to buy cigars, some online research may assist you in identifying authentic Cubans. The Ultimate Counterfeit Cuban Cigar Primer [4] and The Havana Journal Counterfeit vs Real Cohibas [5] pages may be particularly useful to you.

Cracked conch, peas and rice, coleslaw and a cold Kalik beer
Cracked conch, peas and rice, coleslaw and a cold Kalik beer

As you'd expect in an island nation, seafood is very popular. The national dish is conch (pronounced "conk" with a hard K), a type of mollusk, served deep-fried ("cracked") or raw with a twist of lemon, and as elsewhere in the Caribbean, the classic accompaniment is peas and rice.

Ordinary meals can be purchased for anywhere from $5-$25 a plate. You can find fast-food chains such as KFC or McDonalds, especially in the downtown areas, but as it is a highly touristed country, you can find many nice restaurants serving many different cuisines. Most restaurants serve American or British food, though you can easily find the normal island flair, especially during the Fish Fry during June, where you can usually get a meal for about $8. A 15% service charge is added to the bill at most establishments; additional tips are optional.

Service is distinct from the American standard. There is a concentration on the customer at hand. You are expected to patiently wait your turn. At fast food restaurants the server will take care of only the first customer until they have left the service area. Don't expect to be in a hurry even at a fast food establishment.

Service in the Bahamas takes place at a relaxed pace. Travelers can expect a leisurely pace to their meal. Expect polite, if slow, service at most establishments.

Drink

Soda

Soda can be pretty pricy in the hotels, and you will find it only on a soda tap if you are in a good restaurant; otherwise, you will usually get it in a can. The cheapest way to get this would be to go to a local "Food Mart."

"Goombay Punch" is the local soda. It has a pineapple flavor and is what the locals call a "Sweet" soda versus a cola. It is sold in cans at all grocery stores and also available in almost every Bahamian eatery.

Non-alcoholic malt beverages are also very popular. The primary brand of choice is Vita-Malt.

Beer

Kalik is the national beer of the Bahamas and is always served at "all-inclusive" resorts. There are three rather distinct types: "Kalik regular" which has 4% alcohol and a smooth refreshing taste, "Kalik Light" which has been often compared to a Budweiser is a light lager which delivers the same great taste as the regular kalik but with a lower alcohol content and less calories, "Kalik Gold" has 7% alcohol, though very potent it has an excellent taste, which gives you an extra feel of the island. Guinness is also very popular.

A new beer is available -- called Sands. It can be obtained at many resorts and in the local liquor stores. It is a similar style product to Kalik. Sands is now readily available in both regular and light.

Imported beer can be incredibly expensive in the hotels but is not overly priced in bars and liquor stores. Cases of beer are available in a variety of Duty Free liquor stores.

In Freeport, the Port Lucaya Marketplace and Marina has many bars offering two Kaliks (and some other brews) for $5.

The drinking age is 18.

Hard Liquors

The Bahamas has significant amount of liquor stores in relation to the population of the country. You can find liquors stores downtown, in the hotels , the port lucaya marketplace and as you continue to the tour the island, if you may not be sure of exactly where one may be located please feel free to ask for assitance.

Rum

This is by far the best choice of drinks in the Bahamas. It's as cheap as you can get ($2-$10 a bottle), tastes great, and it's made fresh by 3 different companies, the largest being the Bacardi Rum factory on New Providence south of Nassau, where you can take tours and get free drinks if you go on a 2-hour bus ride.

The bahamas has its own native rum to offer with a variety of brands which include Ron Ricardo rum, Ole Nassau Rum and a very popular Fire in the Hole Rum, while this fire in the hole rum is gold in color it has a very distinct bottle label which is sure to be a good converstion peice in the home. The Ron Ricardo rums and Ole Nassau rums both come in a variety of flavours. Ron Ricardo has the best leading coconut rum which is used to make the ever so popular island drink "The Bahama Mamma". Other flavours include mango, pineapple and banana, a gold rum, light rum and one 151 rum. The Ole Nassau rum also offers all of the flavors to that of the Ron Ricardo. Its bottle label too is very unique and creative portraying a pirate ship along the Bahama Islands.

Sleep

Accommodation on the Bahamas is expensive, and there is virtually no backpacker/hostel-type lodging. The cheapest hotels start at around US$70, and most hotels cost US$200-300/night, with the very best resorts easily pushing up above US$500. Deals may be available in the summer off-season though.

Be aware - hotels will charge $18 per day per person "service fee" as well as a $6 per person one time bellhop fee. This is an addition to the rate of the room and is not optional and cannot be waived. Often tourists first hear about this when checking into their hotel for the first time.

Most hotels and resorts in the Bahamas are located in New Providence (Nassau) and neighboring Paradise Island. The rest of the country remains rather off the beaten track for tourism, and eg. Eleuthera, despite being 100 miles long, has only three hotels.

Learn

The College of the Bahamas is the main institution that offers post secondary education in the country with several schools including and undergraduate business school, an undergraduate social science. Other tertiary educational institutions in the country include Success Training College, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and Nova Southeastern University. The University of The West Indies also has a campus in the Bahamas.

There are also some international universities that offer programs in the country such as the University of Miami's MBA programme.

Work

Tourism is the main industry followed by banking.

Stay safe

By the middle of the year 2007, the country had already recorded 42 murders. Police statisitcs will show that most murders are linked to domestic violence. A report done by an international body stated that The Bahamas ranks amongst the top for crimes committed against women. However, to maintain good local and international relations, the police have increased their presence and the judicial system vowed to bring about "swift justice".

Stay healthy

The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has reached 3.0% or 1 in 33 adults.

Respect

Bahamians are a good-natured people, but do not suffer fools gladly.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to Bahamas article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Bahama's, and bahamas

Contents

English

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Pronunciation

  • enPR: bə-hä'-məz, IPA: /bə.ˈhɑː.məz/, SAMPA: /b@."hA:.m@z/

Proper noun

Singular
Bahamas

Plural
-

Bahamas

  1. a country in the Caribbean. Official names, short: The Bahamas; full: Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

Translations

Derived terms

See also


Breton

Proper noun

Bahamas

  1. Bahamas

Danish

Proper noun

Bahamas

  1. Bahamas

French

Proper noun

Bahamas f pl

  1. Bahamas

German

Proper noun

Bahamas pl.

  1. Bahamas

Interlingua

Proper noun

Bahamas

  1. Bahamas

Italian

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Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Bahamas

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Bahamas f. pl.

  1. Bahamas

Derived terms


Norwegian

Proper noun

Bahamas

  1. Bahamas

See also


Spanish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Spanish Wikipedia has an article on:
Bahamas

Wikipedia es

Proper noun

Bahamas

  1. Bahamas

Related terms


Swedish

Proper noun

Bahamas

  1. Bahamas

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