Commonwealth of the Bahamas
CAPITAL : Nassau
FLAG : Three horizontal stripes of blue, gold, and blue, with a black triangle at the hoist.
ANTHEM : March on Bahamaland.
MONETARY UNIT : The Bahamas dollar ( B $) of 100 cents has been in use since May 1966. As of June 1972, the Bahamas dollar ceased to be part of the sterling area and was set on a par with the US dollar. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents, and 1, 2, and 5 dollars, and notes of 50 cents and 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. B $1= US $1 (or US $1= B $1).
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : Imperial weights and measures are in use.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, first Friday in June; Independence Day, 10 July; Emancipation Day, first Monday in August; Discovery Day, 12 October; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Whitmonday.
TIME : 7 AM = noon GMT.
The Bahamas were formed as surface outcroppings of two oceanic banks, the Grand Bahama Bank and the Little Bahama Bank. The islands are for the most part low and flat, rising to a peak elevation of about 63 m (206 ft), which is Mt. Alvernia on Cat Island. The terrain is broken by lakes and mangrove swamps, and the shorelines are marked by coral reefs.
The climate is pleasantly subtropical, with an average winter temperature of 23° C (73° F ) and an average summer temperature of 27° C (81° F ). Rainfall averages 127 cm (50 in), and there are occasional hurricanes.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Because of a favorable combination of soil and climate conditions, the islands abound in such tropical flora as bougainvillea, jasmine, oleander, orchid, and yellow elder. Native trees include the black olive, casuarina, cascarilla, cork tree, manchineel, pimento, and seven species of palm. There are 218 species and subspecies of birds, including flamingos, hummingbirds, and other small birds and waterfowl.
Descendants of slaves brought to the Western Hemisphere from Africa make up about 85% of the legal population. About 12% of the total is white, largely of British origin.
English is the spoken and official language of the Bahamas. Haitian immigrants speak French or a Creole patois.
There are 21 administrative districts, consisting of various islands and groups of islands. Each is headed by a commissioner responsible to the national minister of local government.
The Royal Bahamian Defence Force consists of 860 personnel including 70 women. They operate seven patrol combatants and four aircraft. Defense expenditures were less than 0.7% of GDP in 1999.
Caribbean pine and cascarilla bark are the major forestry products, but there is no commercial forestry industry. About 32% of the total land area consists of forests and woodlands. Roundwood production in 2000 totaled 17,000 cu m (600,000 cu ft). That year, the Bahamas imported $30.3 million in wood and forest products.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Agricultural research facilities include the Bahamas Agricultural Research Center, Central Agricultural Station, and the Food Technology Complex.
The economy of the Bahamas is primarily service-based. Most food and manufactured goods are imported from the United States. Nassau is the principal distribution and import center. Shopping hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM , except Sunday. Banks are open from 9:30 AM to 3 PM , Monday–Thursday, and from 9:30 to 5 PM on Friday.
Lynden Oscar Pindling (1930–2000), a lawyer and leader of the PLP, was the Bahamas' first prime minister following independence in 1973 until he was succeeded by Hubert Ingraham (b. 1947) in 1992. Actor Sidney Poitier (b. USA, 1924) was appointed Bahamian ambassador to Japan in 1997.
The Bahamas has no territories or colonies.
Craton, Michael. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992.
Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.
Jenkins, Olga Culmer. Bahamian Memories: Island Voices of the Twentieth Century. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.
Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas: From Slavery to Servitude. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996.
Johnson, Whittington Bernard. Race Relations in the Bahamas, 1784–1834: The Nonviolent Transformation from a Slave to a Free Society. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000.
Keegan, William F. The People Who Discovered Columbus: The Prehistory of the Bahamas. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992.
Lewis, James A. The Final Campaign of the American Revolution: Rise and Fall of the Spanish Bahamas. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.