The Bahamas is a coral-based archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Its 700-plus islands and cays range from the uninhabited ones to those packed with resorts. The northernmost, Grand Bahama, and Paradise Island, home to many large-scale hotels, are among the best known. Scuba diving and snorkeling sites include the massive Andros Barrier Reef, Thunderball Grotto (used in James Bond films) and the black-coral gardens off Bimini.
The Bahamas has an estimated population of 392,718, of which 25.9% are under 14, 67.2% 15 to 64 and 6.9% over 65. It has a population growth rate of 0.925% (2010).
The Bahamas has a two-party system dominated by the Centre-left Progressive Liberal Party and the center-right Free National Movement. A handful of splinter parties have been unable to win election to parliament. These parties have included the Bahamas Democratic Movement, the Coalition for Democratic Reform, Bahamian Nationalist Party and the Democratic National Alliance.
Infrastructure and Economy
By the terms of GDP per capita, the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas. The Bahamas relies on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for over 60% of the Bahamian GDP, but provides jobs for more than half the country’s workforce. The Bahamas attracted 5.8 million visitors in 2012, more than 70% of whom were cruise visitors. After tourism, the next most important economic sector is banking and international financial services, accounting for some 15% of GDP. The government has adopted incentives to encourage foreign financial business, and further banking and finance reforms are in progress.
The official language of the Bahamas is English. Many Bahamians also speak an English-based creole language commonly referred to as Bahamian dialect (known simply as “dialect”) or as “Bahamianese.
The Bahamas have exchange controls, under the Exchange Control Act and Regulations 1956, non-resident or offshore companies, who are free to deal in foreign currencies, require Central Bank consent to deal in Bahamian dollars.