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Lucayan Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher COLUMBUS first set foot in the New World on San Salvador in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Piracy thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries because of The Bahamas close proximity to shipping lanes. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas has prospered through tourism, international banking, and investment management. Because of its location, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US and Europe, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US.


chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba

Natural Resources

salt, aragonite, timber, arable land

Population - distribution

most of the population lives in urban areas, with two-thirds living on New Providence Island where Nassau is located

English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
NASSAU (capital) 267,000 (2014)
Conventional long form
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Conventional short form
The Bahamas
Local long form
Local short form
parliamentary democracy (Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm
Geographic coordinates
25 05 N, 77 21 W
Time difference
UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
The Bahamas has the second highest per capital GDP in the English-speaking Caribbean with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and international banking. Tourism accounts for approximately 75-80% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs half of the archipelago's labor force. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP. Manufacturing and agriculture combined contribute less than 7% of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. On January 1, 2015, the Government introduced a 7.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on most goods and services, a measure designed to strengthen the fiscal balance sheet. In August 2016, Moody’s downgraded the Bahamas’ bond and issue ratings to Baa3 from Baa2 with a stable outlook, maintaining that rating in its February 2017 review. In December 2016, S&P downgraded the country to BB+ (speculative grade) from BBB- (investment grade) with a stable outlook based on projections of slow economic growth and the pace of debt accumulation. The Bahamas is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that is not a member of the World Trade Organization.
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -1,106,292,887
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 3,983,000,000
Exports of goods and services
US$ 3,654,000,000
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 73,723,568
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 2,893,456,599
citrus, vegetables; poultry
tourism, banking, oil bunkering, maritime industries, transshipment and logistics, salt, aragonite, pharmaceuticals
Rock lobster, aragonite, crude salt, polystyrene products
Poland 25.9%, Cote dIvoire 20.6%, US 15.6%, Dominican Republic 14.1% (2015)
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals
US 22.8%, China 15.2%, Japan 9.7%, Poland 7.8%, South Korea 7.4%, Colombia 6.9%, Brazil 5.7%, Singapore 5.6% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
Business Climate Rating

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