Perry Gladstone Christie
(pronounced "PAIR-ee GLAD-stone KRIS-tee")
"In politics I would rather lose by doing what is right, than win by doing that which is wrong."
The Bahamas is a nation of islands, an archipelago that stretches southeasterly for more than 805 km (500 mi) south of Florida to the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The chain comprises more than 700 islands, but less than 30 of them are actually inhabited. The total land area amounts to 13,940 sq km (5,382 sq mi). The census of 2000 recorded a total population on all islands of 304,913. The smallest of these islands, New Providence, boasts 65% of the nation's population, most of whom live in the capital city of Nassau. The other significant island, in terms of population concentration, is Grand Bahama, which has approximately 15% of the population.
The Arawak Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World in 1492. Like many of the other English-speaking Caribbean countries the Bahamas was colonized by the British during the 17th century, although the Spanish were the first Europeans to make landfall on the islands. African slaves were brought by the British to work on plantations. The current ethnic composition is 85% of African descent, 12% of European descent, with the remaining 3% of Asian, Hispanic, or mixed descent. The official language is English, although Creole is spoken among immigrants from Haiti. The overwhelming majority of the population is Christian, with approximately 32% Baptist. The official currency is the Bahamian dollar. Tourism is the most important industry. The major exports include fish and crawfish, rum, salt, chemicals, and fruits and vegetables. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $16,800 in 2000.
Office of the Prime Minister
Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre
West Bay Street
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Tel: (242) 327-5826
Fax: (242) 327-5806
Web site: http://www.opm.gov.bs/