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|Commonwealth of The Bahamas|
|National motto||Forward Upward Onward Together|
| Missing image|
Location of Bahamas
Location of Bahamas
|Governor General||Dame Ivy Dumont|
|Prime Minister||Perry Christie|
- % water
| Ranked 155th |
| Ranked 168th|
| From the United Kingdom|
July 10, 1973
|Time zone||UTC -5|
|National anthem||March On, Bahamaland|
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an independent English-speaking nation in the West Indies. An archipelago of 700 islands and cays (which are small islands), the Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida in the United States, north of Cuba and the Caribbean, and west of the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Main article: History of the Bahamas
Christopher Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492 is believed to have been on the island of San Salvador (also called Watling's Island), located in the southern Bahamas. He encountered friendly Arawak (also known as Lucayan) Amerindians and exchanged gifts with them. The subsequent ethnic cleansing of the Arawak peoples is believed to have been greatly facilitated by this and other European expeditions in the region.
From the late 1400s until the 1600s, Spain controlled the Bahamas. In the 18th century, British Loyalists who had left New England due to increasing anti-British sentiments moved to the islands. Due to the large number of British settlers across the islands, custody of the chain was transferred from Spain to Britain, and the Bahama Islands were named a British colony in 1783.
In 1973, Bahamians voted for and received independence from Britain while remaining a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since attaining independence, the Bahamas has prospered through tourism, international banking, and investment management.
Main article: Politics of the Bahamas
Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state and the Queen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, which has remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. She is represented in the Bahamas by a Governor-General of the Bahamas, appointed by the monarch herself. Head of government is the prime minister, usually the leader of the winning party of the elections for the parliament. The Bahamian parliament consists of two chambers, the Senate (with 16 members) and the House of Assembly (40). Elections are held every 5 years.
Main article: Districts of the Bahamas
Main article: Economy of the Bahamas
The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs almost half of the archipelago's labour force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences have led to solid GDP growth in recent years.
Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the United States, the source of the majority of tourist visitors.
Main article: Demographics of the Bahamas
Most of the Bahamian population is black (85%); about 12% is white. The official language is English, spoken by virtually all inhabitants, though many speak a "patois" form of it. A small number of immigrants also speak Creole.
A heavily religious country, there are more places of worship per person in the Bahamas than any other nation in the world. Christianity is the main religion on the islands, with Baptists forming the largest denomination (about one third), followed by the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
A few people, especially in the southern and eastern islands, practice obeah, a spiritistic religion similar to voodoo. While well-known throughout the Bahamas, obeah is shunned by many people. Voodoo is practiced, but almost exclusively by immigrants from Haiti.
Main article: Culture of the Bahamas
See also: Music of the Bahamas
The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew hit the northern islands in 1992, and Hurricane Floyd hit most of the islands in 1999. Hurricane Frances of 2004 was expected to be the worst ever for the islands. Also in 2004, the northern Bahamas were hit by a less potent Hurricane Jeanne.
- Communications in the Bahamas
- Transportation in the Bahamas
- Military of the Bahamas
- Foreign relations of the Bahamas
- Bahamas Government Official Website (http://www.bahamas.gov.bs/)
- Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (http://www.bahamas.com/)
- The Bahamas Constitution (http://www.constitution.org/cons/bahamas.htm)
- Photo-Gallery (http://www.strausbach.de/bahamas_photo.php) (mit Diashow) (in German)
- Photographs of the Bahamas (http://www.lodgephoto.com/galleries/bahamas-abacos/): Abaco islands, including Junkanoo festival
|Countries in West Indies|
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago
Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Navassa Island | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands