Bahamas, officially titled the “Commonwealth of the Bahamas”, is an archipelago lying off the south-east coast of Florida, USA and north of Cuba. The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands and over 1000 cays and rocks covering an area of more than 5,000 sq. mi (nearly 14,000 sq. km.) and a population of over 300,000. Only about 30 islands are inhabited. The largest island is Andros but New Providence is the most populous. The capital Nassau is situated on this island. Eighty-five percent of the population is made up of Afro-Bahamians, the rest are Europeans with a slender minority being Asians. The main languages are English, Creole Spanish and Portuguese. The nation is predominantly Christian in religion with the largest denominations being the Baptist, Anglican and Roman Catholics. The literacy rate is one of the highest in the world at 95.6% while the life expectancy is put at 63.
History and Governance
The country’s history can be traced back to the first landing of Christopher Columbus, who is said to have landed on San Salvador, an island in the south of Bahamas. Many of the locals were enslaved and deported to Spain and the area was largely deserted until the arrival of the British who set up settlements in the region. The islands then came under the British Empire. Following the American Revolutionary War, the African slaves in the USA who had fought on the British side, in the conflict were expelled and were resettled here by the British. The country became internally self-governing in 1964 and fully independent in 1973. The government is a constitutional parliamentary democracy based on the lines of the Westminster model of the United Kingdom. The nominal head of state is Queen Elizabeth and the crown’s acting head is a Governor General. The head of the government is the Prime Minister. The Bahamas has been a peaceful nation and has not witnessed any violent coups or unrest.
Economically, tourism is the biggest money spinner for this island nation with nearly half of the GDP coming from this industry alone and employing most of the people in the islands. The sun kissed beaches of the islands and the friendly party atmosphere of the locals all tend to play a large part in the islands’ attraction. Further, the islands being close to the United States of America, have a large share of visitors from there who prefer the Bahamas as a destination for its “tropical paradise” allure. Many packages and tours exist for the Bahamas and the cost being relatively cheaper than mainland USA has boosted its appeal to everyone in North America. The economy of the country also relies on fishing, which is the main occupation next only to tourism. Vegetables and fruits are also grown in abundance. With a global free trade, the Bahamas has benefited the most with many banking and investment companies setting up shop in the islands. The country has a per capita income of more than $20,000 putting it in the top 50 list. Bahamas’ currency is the Bahamas Dollar.