Commonwealth of the Bahamas
LOCATION AND SIZE.
The Bahamas is a chain of 700 islands and about 2,000 cays (low islands or reefs of sand or coral). However, only 29 of the islands are inhabited. The Bahamas is in the North Atlantic Ocean on the eastern edge of the Caribbean, just 72 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of Florida. It has an area of 13,939 square kilometers (5,382 square miles) and is a bit smaller than Connecticut. The islands have a total coastline of 3,542 square kilometers (1,368 square miles). The largest city in the nation is Nassau, the capital, and the second largest is Freeport.
The population of the Bahamas was estimated to be 294,982 in July 2000. The nation has a high birth rate with 19.54 births per 1,000 people compared with 6.81 deaths per 1,000. The fertility rate is 2.33 children born per woman. Because of the increase in AIDS, the infant mortality rate is high, with 16.99 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. The population is young, with 30 percent under the age of 15 and only 6 percent over 65. Life expectancy is 68.25 years for men and 73.94 years for women. The rate of people moving out of the country is high at 2.67 per 1,000 people. These combined facts give the nation an overall growth rate of 1.01 percent. By 2015, the islands are expected to have a population of 330,000.
Bahamians are primarily of African descent (85 percent). People of European ancestry make up 12 percent of the population and the remaining 3 percent is of Asian or Hispanic origin. English is the official language, and
Most Bahamians reside in urban areas, with two-thirds of the population living on New Providence Island where Nassau is located. Many others live in or near Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. There are small settlements throughout the outer islands, called the "Family Islands".
The Bahamas has no territories or colonies.
Eneas, William J. Godfrey. Agriculture in the Bahamas: Historical Development, 1492-1992. New York: Media Publishing, 1998.
Sealey, Neal E. The Bahamas Today: An Introduction to the Human and Economic Geography of the Bahamas. London: Macmillan Caribbean, 1993.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed August 2001.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed September 2001.
U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: The Bahamas. 1999. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/index/cfm?docid=1857> . Accessed August 2001.
—. 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: The Bahamas. 2000. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/index.cfm?docid=373> . Accessed August 2001.
—. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: The Bahamas. <http://www.state.gov/> . Accessed August 2001.
Bahamian dollar (B$). One Bahamian dollar equals 100 cents. The Bahamas issues bank notes of B$0.50, 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents.
Pharmaceuticals, cement, rum, crawfish, refined petroleum products.
Foodstuffs, manufactured goods, crude oil, vehicles, electronics.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
US$4.5 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$376.8 million (2000 est.). Imports: US$1.73 billion (2000 est.).