Bahamas country profile

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An archipelago of 700 islands and islets, the Bahamas attracts millions of tourists each year.

The visitors come to enjoy its mild climate, fine beaches and beautiful forests.

A former British colony and now a Commonwealth member, the country is a major centre for offshore finance and has one of the world's largest open-registry shipping fleets. The Bahamas enjoys a high per capita income.

The huge growth in the services sector of the economy has prompted people to leave fishing and farming villages for the commercial centres in New Providence Island, Grand Bahama and Great Abaco.

As with other Caribbean countries, The Bahamas faces the challenge of tackling drugs trafficking and illegal immigration.

It has taken steps to clean up its offshore banking system.

FACTS

Commonwealth of the Bahamas

Capital: Nassau

  • Population 391,000

  • Area 13,939 sq km (5,382 sq miles)

  • Major language English

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 72 years (men), 78 years (women)

  • Currency Bahamian dollar

Getty Images

LEADERS

Prime minister: Hubert Minnis

image copyrightHUBERT MINNIS/FACEBOOK

Dr Hubert Minnis was elected prime minister on 10 May 2017, when his Free National Movement (FNM) soundly defeated the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).

He assumed leadership of the FNM in 2012. In December 2016, he was ousted as leader of the opposition in parliament by seven of his party's MPs. A medical doctor trained in the US, UK and Caribbean, he was elected in 2007 to the House of Assembly and served as minister of health for five years.

MEDIA

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionTourism generates employment for nearly half the labour force in Bahamas

The government operates radio networks and the islands' only TV station. There is a handful of private radio stations. Multichannel cable TV is widely available.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in the history of the Bahamas:

1492 - Christopher Columbus makes his first landing in Western Hemisphere in the Bahamas.

1647 - English and Bermudan religious refugees, the Eleutheran Adventurers, establish the first European settlement on the Bahamas.

1717 - Bahamas become a British crown colony.

1834 - Emancipation of slaves.

1964 - Bahamas granted internal autonomy.

1973 - The Bahamas become independent.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe island economy relies on tourism, offshore finance and shipping

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