Bahamas | Wikipedia audio article

The Bahamas ( (listen)), known officially
as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago, in the West
Indies. The archipelagic state consists of more than
700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and Hispaniola
Island (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands,
southeast of the U.S. state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New
Providence. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes
The Bahamas’ territory as encompassing 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) of ocean space. The Bahamas were inhabited by the Lucayans,
a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taíno people, for many centuries. Columbus was the first European to see the
islands, making his first landfall in the ‘New World’ in 1492. Later, the Spanish shipped the native Lucayans
to slavery on Hispaniola, after which The Bahama islands were mostly deserted from 1513
until 1648, when English colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera. The Bahamas became a British crown colony
in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. After the American Revolutionary War, the
Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists to the Bahamas; they took their slaves with
them and established plantations on land grants. African slaves and their descendants constituted
the majority of the population from this period on. The slave trade was abolished by the British
in 1807; slavery in the Bahamas was abolished in 1834. Subsequently, the Bahamas became a haven for
freed African slaves. Africans liberated from illegal slave ships
were resettled on the islands by the Royal Navy, while some North American slaves and
Seminoles escaped to the Bahamas from Florida. Bahamians were even known to recognize the
freedom of slaves carried by the ships of other nations which reached the Bahamas. Today Afro-Bahamians make up 90% of the population
of 332,634.The Bahamas became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1973 with Elizabeth
II as its queen. In terms of gross domestic product per capita,
the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas (following the United States
and Canada), with an economy based on tourism and offshore finance.==Etymology==
The name Bahamas is most likely derived from either the Taíno ba ha ma (“big upper middle
land”), which was a term for the region used by the indigenous people, or possibly from
the Spanish baja mar (“shallow water or sea” or “low tide”) reflecting the shallow waters
of the area. Alternatively, it may originate from Guanahani,
a local name of unclear meaning.The word The constitutes an integral part of the short
form of the name and is, therefore, capitalized. So – in contrast to “the Congo” and “the
United Kingdom” – it is proper to write “The Bahamas”. The name The Bahamas is thus comparable with
certain non-English names that also use the definite article, such as Las Vegas or Los
Angeles. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of The
Bahamas, the country’s fundamental law, capitalizes the “T” in “The Bahamas”.==History=====
Pre-colonial era===The first inhabitants of the Bahamas were
the Taino people, who moved into the uninhabited southern islands from Hispaniola and Cuba
around the 800s–1000s AD, having migrated there from South America; they came to be
known as the Lucayan people. An estimated 30,000 Lucayans inhabited the
Bahamas at the time of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in 1492.===Arrival of the Spanish===Columbus’s first landfall in what was to Europeans
a ‘New World’ was on an island he named San Salvador (known to the Lucayans as Guanahani). Whilst there is a general consensus that this
island lay within the Bahamas, precisely which island Columbus landed on is a matter of scholarly
debate. Some researchers believe the site to be present-day
San Salvador Island (formerly known as Watling’s Island), situated in the southeastern Bahamas,
whilst an alternative theory holds that Columbus landed to the southeast on Samana Cay, according
to calculations made in 1986 by National Geographic writer and editor Joseph Judge, based on Columbus’s
log. On the landfall island, Columbus made first
contact with the Lucayans and exchanged goods with them, claiming the islands for Spain,
before proceeding to explore the larger isles of the Greater Antilles.The 1494 Treaty of
Tordesillas theoretically divided the new territories between Spain and Portugal, placing
the Bahamas in the Spanish sphere; however they did little to press their claim on the
ground. The Spanish did however make use of the native
Lucayan peoples, many of whom were enslaved and sent to Hispaniola for use as forced labour. The slaves suffered from harsh conditions
and most died from contracting diseases to which they had no immunity; half of the Taino
died from smallpox alone. As a result of these depredations the population
of the Bahamas was severely diminished.===Arrival of the English===
The English had expressed an interest in the Bahamas as early as 1629, however, it was
not until 1648 that the first English settlers arrived on the islands. Known as the Eleutherian Adventurers and led
by William Sayle, they migrated to Bermuda seeking greater religious freedom. These English Puritans established the first
permanent European settlement on an island which they named ‘Eleuthera’, Greek for ‘freedom’. They later settled New Providence, naming
it Sayle’s Island. Life proved harder than envisaged however,
and many – including Sayle – chose to return to Bermuda. To survive, the remaining settlers salvaged
goods from wrecks. In 1670, King Charles II granted the islands
to the Lords Proprietors of the Carolinas in North America. They rented the islands from the king with
rights of trading, tax, appointing governors, and administering the country from their base
on New Providence. Piracy and attacks from hostile foreign powers
were a constant threat. In 1684, Spanish corsair Juan de Alcon raided
the capital Charles Town (later renamed Nassau), and in 1703, a joint Franco-Spanish expedition
briefly occupied Nassau during the War of the Spanish Succession.===18th century===During proprietary rule, the Bahamas became
a haven for pirates, including Blackbeard (circa 1680–1718). To put an end to the ‘Pirates’ republic’ and
restore orderly government, Great Britain made the Bahamas a crown colony in 1718 under
the royal governorship of Woodes Rogers. After a difficult struggle, he succeeded in
suppressing piracy. In 1720, Rogers led local militia to drive
off a Spanish attack during the War of the Quadruple Alliance. In 1729, a local assembly was established
giving a degree of self-governance for the English settlers. The reforms had been planned by the previous
Governor George Phenney and authorised in July 1728.During the American War of Independence
in the late 18th century, the islands became a target for US naval forces under the command
of Commodore Esek Hopkins; US Marines occupied Nassau for a brief period in 1776. In 1782, following the British defeat at Yorktown,
a Spanish fleet appeared off the coast of Nassau. The city surrendered without a fight. Spain returned possession of the Bahamas to
Great Britain the following year, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Before the news was received however, the
islands were recaptured by a small British force led by Andrew Deveaux.After US independence,
the British resettled some 7,300 Loyalists with their African slaves in the Bahamas,
including 2,000 from New York and at least 1,033 whites, 2,214 blacks and a few Native
American Creeks from East Florida. Most of the refugees resettled from New York
had fled from other colonies, including West Florida, which the Spanish captured during
the war. The government granted land to the planters
to help compensate for losses on the continent. These Loyalists, who included Deveaux and
also Lord Dunmore, established plantations on several islands and became a political
force in the capital. European Americans were outnumbered by the
African-American slaves they brought with them, and ethnic Europeans remained a minority
in the territory.===19th century===
In 1807, the British abolished the slave trade. During the following decades, the Royal Navy
intercepted the trade; they resettled in The Bahamas thousands of Africans liberated from
slave ships. In the 1820s during the period of the Seminole
Wars in Florida, hundreds of North American slaves and African Seminoles escaped from
Cape Florida to the Bahamas. They settled mostly on northwest Andros Island,
where they developed the village of Red Bays. From eyewitness accounts, 300 escaped in a
mass flight in 1823, aided by Bahamians in 27 sloops, with others using canoes for the
journey. This was commemorated in 2004 by a large sign
at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Some of their descendants in Red Bays continue
African Seminole traditions in basket making and grave marking.In 1818, the Home Office
in London had ruled that “any slave brought to the Bahamas from outside the British West
Indies would be manumitted.” This led to a total of nearly 300 slaves owned
by US nationals being freed from 1830 to 1835. The American slave ships Comet and Encomium
used in the United States domestic coastwise slave trade, were wrecked off Abaco Island
in December 1830 and February 1834, respectively. When wreckers took the masters, passengers
and slaves into Nassau, customs officers seized the slaves and British colonial officials
freed them, over the protests of the Americans. There were 165 slaves on the Comet and 48
on the Encomium. The United Kingdom finally paid an indemnity
to the United States in those two cases in 1855, under the Treaty of Claims of 1853,
which settled several compensation cases between the two countries. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire
on 1 August 1834. After that British colonial officials freed
78 North American slaves from the Enterprise, which went into Bermuda in 1835; and 38 from
the Hermosa, which wrecked off Abaco Island in 1840. The most notable case was that of the Creole
in 1841: as a result of a slave revolt on board, the leaders ordered the US brig to
Nassau. It was carrying 135 slaves from Virginia destined
for sale in New Orleans. The Bahamian officials freed the 128 slaves
who chose to stay in the islands. The Creole case has been described as the
“most successful slave revolt in U.S. history”.These incidents, in which a total of 447 slaves
belonging to US nationals were freed from 1830 to 1842, increased tension between the
United States and the United Kingdom. They had been co-operating in patrols to suppress
the international slave trade. However, worried about the stability of its
large domestic slave trade and its value, the United States argued that the United Kingdom
should not treat its domestic ships that came to its colonial ports under duress as part
of the international trade. The United States worried that the success
of the Creole slaves in gaining freedom would encourage more slave revolts on merchant ships. During the American Civil War of the 1860s,
the islands briefly prospered as a focus for blockade runners aiding the Confederate States.===Early 20th century===
The early decades of the 20th century were ones of hardship for many Bahamians, characterised
by a stagnant economy and widespread poverty. Many eked out a living via subsistence agriculture
or fishing. In August 1940, the Duke of Windsor was appointed
governor of the Bahamas. He arrived in the colony with his wife. Although disheartened at the condition of
Government House, they “tried to make the best of a bad situation”. He did not enjoy the position, and referred
to the islands as “a third-class British colony”. He opened the small local parliament on 29
October 1940. The couple visited the “Out Islands” that
November, on Axel Wenner-Gren’s yacht, which caused controversy; the British Foreign Office
strenuously objected because they had been advised by United States intelligence that
Wenner-Gren was a close friend of the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring of Nazi Germany.The
Duke was praised at the time for his efforts to combat poverty on the islands. A 1991 biography by Philip Ziegler, however,
described him as contemptuous of the Bahamians and other non-European peoples of the Empire. He was praised for his resolution of civil
unrest over low wages in Nassau in June 1942, when there was a “full-scale riot”. Ziegler said that the Duke blamed the trouble
on “mischief makers – communists” and “men of Central European Jewish descent, who had
secured jobs as a pretext for obtaining a deferment of draft”. The Duke resigned from the post on 16 March
1945.===Post-Second World War===Modern political development began after the
Second World War. The first political parties were formed in
the 1950s, split broadly along ethnic lines – the United Bahamian Party (UBP) representing
the English-descended Bahamians (known informally as the ‘Bay Street Boys’), and the Progressive
Liberal Party (PLP) representing the Afro-Bahamian majority.A new constitution granting the Bahamas
internal autonomy went into effect on 7 January 1964, with Chief Minister Sir Roland Symonette
of the UBP becoming the first Premier. In 1967, Lynden Pindling of the PLP became
the first black Premier of the Bahamian colony; in 1968, the title of the position was changed
to Prime Minister. In 1968, Pindling announced that the Bahamas
would seek full independence. A new constitution giving the Bahamas increased
control over its own affairs was adopted in 1968. In 1971, the UBP merged with a disaffected
faction of the PLP to form a new party, the Free National Movement (FNM), a de-racialised,
centre-right party which aimed to counter the growing power of Pindling’s PLP.The British
House of Lords voted to give the Bahamas its independence on 22 June 1973. Prince Charles delivered the official documents
to Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, officially declaring the Bahamas a fully independent
nation on 10 July 1973. It joined the Commonwealth of Nations on the
same day. Sir Milo Butler was appointed the first governor-general
of the Bahamas (the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II) shortly after independence.===Post-independence===
Shortly after independence, the Bahamas joined the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank on 22 August 1973, and later the United Nations on 18 September 1973.Politically,
the first two decades were dominated by Pindling’s PLP, who went on to win a string of electoral
victories. Allegations of corruption, links with drug
cartels and financial malfeasance within the Bahamian government failed to dent Pindling’s
popularity. Meanwhile, the economy underwent a dramatic
growth period fuelled by the twin pillars of tourism and offshore finance, significantly
raising the standard of living on the islands. The Bahamas’ booming economy led to it becoming
a beacon for immigrants, most notably from Haiti.In 1992, Pindling was unseated by Hubert
Ingraham of the FNM. Ingraham went on to win the 1997 Bahamian
general election, before being defeated in 2002, when the PLP returned to power under
Perry Christie. Ingraham returned to power from 2007-2012,
followed by Christie again from 2012-17. With economic growth faltering, Bahamians
re-elected the FNM in 2017, with Hubert Minnis becoming the fourth prime minister.In September
2019, Hurricane Dorian struck the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama at Category 5 intensity,
devastating the northwestern Bahamas. The storm inflicted at least US$7 billion
in damages and killed more than 50 people, with 1,300 people still missing.==Geography==The Bahamas consists of a chain of islands
spread out over some 500 miles in the Atlantic Ocean, located to the east of Florida in the
United States, north of Cuba and Hispaniola and west of the British Overseas Territory
of the Turks and Caicos Islands (with which it forms the Lucayan archipelago). It lies between latitudes 20° and 28°N,
and longitudes 72° and 80°W and straddles the Tropic of Cancer. There are some 700 islands and cays in total
(of which 30 are inhabited) with a total land area of 10,010 km2 (3,860 sq mi).Nassau, capital
city of the Bahamas, lies on the island of New Providence; the other main inhabited islands
are Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Rum Cay, Long Island, San Salvador Island, Ragged
Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma, Berry Islands, Mayaguana, the Bimini islands, Great
Abaco and Great Inagua. The largest island is Andros.All the islands
are low and flat, with ridges that usually rise no more than 15 to 20 m (49 to 66 ft). The highest point in the country is Mount
Alvernia (formerly Como Hill) on Cat Island at 64m.===Climate===The climate of the Bahamas is mostly tropical
savannah climate or Aw according to Köppen climate classification. The low latitude, warm tropical Gulf Stream,
and low elevation give the Bahamas a warm and winterless climate. The Bahamas have been free of snowfall, with
the exception of snow mixed with rain reported in Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama
on 19 January 1977. Although every few decades low temperatures
can fall below 10 °C (50 °F) for a few hours when a severe cold outbreak comes off the
North American mainland, there is only a 7 °C difference between the warmest month and
coolest month in most of the Bahama islands. As with most tropical climates, seasonal rainfall
follows the sun, and summer is the wettest season. The Bahamas are often sunny and dry for long
periods of time, and average more than 3,000 hours or 340 days of sunlight annually. Tropical storms and hurricanes can on occasion
impact the Bahamas. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew passed over the
northern portions of the islands, and Hurricane Floyd passed near the eastern portions of
the islands in 1999. Hurricane Dorian of 2019 passed over the archipelago
at destructive Category 5 strength with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 km/h) and wind gusts
up to 220 mph (354 km/h), becoming the strongest tropical cyclone on record to impact the northwestern
islands of Grand Bahama and Great Abaco.==Geology==The Bahamas is part of the Lucayan Archipelago,
which continues into the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Mouchoir Bank, the Silver Bank,
and the Navidad Bank.The Bahamas Platform, which includes the Bahamas, Southern Florida,
Northern Cuba, the Turks and Caicos, and the Blake Plateau, formed about 150 Ma, not long
after the formation of the North Atlantic. The 6.4 km (4.0 mi) thick limestones, which
predominate in the Bahamas, date back to the Cretaceous. These limestones would have been deposited
in shallow seas, assumed to be a stretched and thinned portion of the North American
continental crust. Sediments were forming at about the same rate
as the crust below was sinking due to the added weight. Thus, the entire area consisted of a large
marine plain with some islands. Then, at about 80 Ma, the area became flooded
by the Gulf Stream. This resulted in the drowning of the Blake
Plateau, the separation of the Bahamas from Cuba and Florida, the separation of the southeastern
Bahamas into separate banks, the creation of the Cay Sal Bank, plus the Little and Great
Bahama Banks. Sedimentation from the “carbonate factory”
of each bank, or atoll, continues today at the rate of about 2 cm per kyr. Coral reefs form the “retaining walls” of
these atolls, within which oolites and pellets form.Coral growth was greater through the
Tertiary, until the start of the Ice Ages, and hence those deposits are more abundant
below a depth of 36 m. In fact, an ancient extinct reef exists half
a km seaward of the present one, 30 m below sea level. Oolites form when oceanic water penetrate
the shallow banks, increasing the temperature about 3 °C and the salinity by 0.5 per cent. Cemented ooids are referred to as grapestone. Additionally, giant stromatolites are found
off the Exuma Cays.Sea level changes resulted in a drop in sea level, causing wind blown
oolite to form sand dunes with distinct cross-bedding. Overlapping dunes form oolitic ridges, which
become rapidly lithified through the action of rainwater, called eolianite. Most islands have ridges ranging from 30 to
45 m, though Cat Island has a ridge 60 m in height. The land between ridges is conducive to the
formation of lakes and swamps.Solution weathering of the limestone results in a “Bahamian Karst”
topography. This includes potholes, blue holes such as
Dean’s Blue Hole, sinkholes, beachrock such as the Bimini Road (“pavements of Atlantis”),
limestone crust, caves due to the lack of rivers, and sea caves. Several blue holes are aligned along the South
Andros Fault line. Tidal flats and tidal creeks are common, but
the more impressive drainage patterns are formed by troughs and canyons such as Great
Bahama Canyon with the evidence of turbidity currents and turbidite deposition.The stratigraphy
of the islands consists of the Middle Pleistocene Owl’s Hole Formation, overlain by the Late
Pleistocene Grotto Beach Formation, and then the Holocene Rice Bay Formation. However, these units are not necessarily stacked
on top of each other but can be located laterally. The oldest formation, Owl’s Hole, is capped
by a terra rosa paleosoil, as is the Grotto Beach, unless eroded. The Grotto Beach Formation is the most widespread.==Government and politics==The Bahamas is a parliamentary constitutional
monarchy, with the queen of the Bahamas (Elizabeth II) as head of state represented locally by
a governor-general. Political and legal traditions closely follow
those of the United Kingdom and the Westminster system. The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth
of Nations and shares its head of state with other Commonwealth realms. The prime minister is the head of government
and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Assembly. Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet,
selected by the prime minister and drawn from his supporters in the House of Assembly. The current governor-general is The Honourable
Cornelius A. Smith, and the current prime minister is The Rt. Hon. Hubert Minnis MP.Legislative power is vested
In a bicameral parliament, which consists of a 38-member House of Assembly (the lower
house), with members elected from single-member districts, and a 16-member Senate, with members
appointed by the governor-general, including nine on the advice of the Prime Minister,
four on the advice of the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and three on the advice
of the prime minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. As under the Westminster system, the prime
minister may dissolve Parliament and call a general election at any time within a five-year
term.Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement and association. The Judiciary of the Bahamas is independent
of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English law.===Political culture===The Bahamas has a two-party system dominated
by the centre-left Progressive Liberal Party and the centre-right Free National Movement. A handful of other political parties have
been unable to win election to parliament; these have included the Bahamas Democratic
Movement, the Coalition for Democratic Reform, Bahamian Nationalist Party and the Democratic
National Alliance.===Foreign relations===The Bahamas has strong bilateral relationships
with the United States and the United Kingdom, represented by an ambassador in Washington
and High Commissioner in London. The Bahamas also associates closely with other
nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).===Armed forces===The Bahamanian military is the Royal Bahamas
Defence Force (RBDF), the navy of the Bahamas which includes a land unit called Commando
Squadron (Regiment) and an Air Wing (Air Force). Under the Defence Act, the RBDF has been mandated,
in the name of the queen, to defend the Bahamas, protect its territorial integrity, patrol
its waters, provide assistance and relief in times of disaster, maintain order in conjunction
with the law enforcement agencies of the Bahamas, and carry out any such duties as determined
by the National Security Council. The Defence Force is also a member of the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s Regional Security Task Force. The RBDF came into existence on 31 March 1980. Its duties include defending the Bahamas,
stopping drug smuggling, illegal immigration and poaching, and providing assistance to
mariners. The Defence Force has a fleet of 26 coastal
and inshore patrol craft along with 3 aircraft and over 1,100 personnel including 65 officers
and 74 women.===Administrative divisions===The districts of the Bahamas provide a system
of local government everywhere except New Providence (which holds 70% of the national
population), whose affairs are handled directly by the central government. In 1996, the Bahamian Parliament passed the
“Local Government Act” to facilitate the establishment of family island administrators, local government
districts, local district councillors and local town committees for the various island
communities. The overall goal of this act is to allow the
various elected leaders to govern and oversee the affairs of their respective districts
without the interference of the central government. In total, there are 32 districts, with elections
being held every five years. There are 110 councillors and 281 town committee
members elected to represent the various districts.Each councillor or town committee member is responsible
for the proper use of public funds for the maintenance and development of their constituency. The districts other than New Providence are:===National flag===The Bahamian flag was adopted in 1973. Its colours symbolise the strength of the
Bahamian people; its design reflects aspects of the natural environment (sun and sea) and
economic and social development. The flag is a black equilateral triangle against
the mast, superimposed on a horizontal background made up of three equal stripes of aquamarine,
gold and aquamarine.===Coat of arms===The coat of arms of the Bahamas contains a
shield with the national symbols as its focal point. The shield is supported by a marlin and a
flamingo, which are the national animals of the Bahamas. The flamingo is located on the land, and the
marlin on the sea, indicating the geography of the islands. On top of the shield is a conch shell, which
represents the varied marine life of the island chain. The conch shell rests on a helmet. Below this is the actual shield, the main
symbol of which is a ship representing the Santa María of Christopher Columbus, shown
sailing beneath the sun. Along the bottom, below the shield appears
a banner upon which is the national motto: “Forward, Upward, Onward Together.”===
National flower===The yellow elder was chosen as the national
flower of the Bahamas because it is native to the Bahama islands, and it blooms throughout
the year. Selection of the yellow elder over many other
flowers was made through the combined popular vote of members of all four of New Providence’s
garden clubs of the 1970s—the Nassau Garden Club, the Carver Garden Club, the International
Garden Club and the YWCA Garden Club. They reasoned that other flowers grown there—such
as the bougainvillea, hibiscus and poinciana—had already been chosen as the national flowers
of other countries. The yellow elder, on the other hand, was unclaimed
by other countries (although it is now also the national flower of the United States Virgin
Islands) and also the yellow elder is native to the family islands.==Economy==By the terms of GDP per capita, the Bahamas
is one of the richest countries in the Americas. Its currency (the Bahamian dollar) is kept
at a 1-to-1 peg with the US dollar. It was revealed in the Panama Papers that
the Bahamas is the jurisdiction with the most offshore entities or companies.===Tourism===The
Bahamas relies heavily on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for
about 50% of the Bahamian GDP, but also provides jobs for about half of the country’s workforce. The Bahamas attracted 5.8 million visitors
in 2012, more than 70% of whom were cruise visitors.===Financial services===
After tourism, the next most important economic sector is banking and offshore 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 government plans to merge the regulatory
functions of key financial institutions, including the Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBB) and
the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Central Bank administers restrictions
and controls on capital and money market instruments. The Bahamas International Securities Exchange
consists of 19 listed public companies. Reflecting the relative soundness of the banking
system (mostly populated by Canadian banks), the impact of the global financial crisis
on the financial sector was limited. The economy has a very competitive tax regime
(classified by some as a tax haven). The government derives its revenue from import
tariffs, VAT, licence fees, property and stamp taxes, but there is no income tax, corporate
tax, capital gains tax, or wealth tax. Payroll taxes fund social insurance benefits
and amount to 3.9% paid by the employee and 5.9% paid by the employer. In 2010, overall tax revenue as a percentage
of GDP was 17.2%.===Agriculture and manufacturing===Agriculture and manufacturing form the third
largest sector of the Bahamian economy, representing 5–7% of total GDP. An estimated 80% of the Bahamian food supply
is imported. Major crops include onions, okra, tomatoes,
oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers, sugar cane, lemons, limes, and sweet potatoes.===Logistics===
Supporting new break bulk operations in Freeport would help facilitate the emergence of high-value
light assembly manufacturing in the port region. Reforms that promote customs transparency
and efficiencies are a key first step.==Demographics==The Bahamas has an estimated population of
391,232, of which 25.9% are 14 or under, 67.2% 15 to 64 and 6.9% over 65. It has a population growth rate of 0.925%
(2010), with a birth rate of 17.81/1,000 population, death rate of 9.35/1,000, and net migration
rate of −2.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population. The infant mortality rate is 23.21 deaths/1,000
live births. Residents have a life expectancy at birth
of 69.87 years: 73.49 years for females, 66.32 years for males. The total fertility rate is 2.0 children born/woman
(2010).The most populous islands are New Providence, where Nassau, the capital and largest city,
is located; and Grand Bahama, home to the second largest city of Freeport.===Racial and ethnic groups===
According to the 99% response rate obtained from the race question on the 2010 Census
questionnaire, 90.6% of the population identified themselves as being Black, 4.7% White and
2.1% of a mixed race (African and European). Three centuries prior, in 1722 when the first
official census of the Bahamas was taken, 74% of the population was native European
and 26% native African. Since the colonial era of plantations, Africans
or Afro-Bahamians have been the largest ethnic group in the Bahamas, whose primary ancestry
was based in West Africa. The first Africans to arrive to the Bahamas
were freed slaves from Bermuda; they arrived with the Eleutheran Adventurers looking for
new lives. The Haitian community in the Bahamas is also
largely of African descent and numbers about 80,000. Due to an extremely high immigration of Haitians
to the Bahamas, the Bahamian government started deporting illegal Haitian immigrants to their
homeland in late 2014. The white Bahamian population are mainly the
descendants of the English Puritans and American Loyalists escaping the American Revolution
who arrived in 1649 and 1783, respectively. Many Southern Loyalists went to the Abaco
Islands, half of whose population was of European descent as of 1985. The term white is usually used to identify
Bahamians with Anglo ancestry, as well as “light-skinned” Afro-Bahamians. Sometimes Bahamians use the term Conchy Joe
to describe people of Anglo descent.A small portion of the Euro-Bahamian population are
Greek Bahamians, descended from Greek labourers who came to help develop the sponging industry
in the 1900s. They make up less than 2% of the nation’s
population, but have still preserved their distinct Greek Bahamian culture.Bahamians
typically identify themselves simply as either black or white.===Religion===The islands’ population is predominantly Christian. Protestant denominations collectively account
for more than 70% of the population, with Baptists representing 35% of the population,
Anglicans 15%, Pentecostals 8%, Church of God 5%, Seventh-day Adventists 5% and Methodists
4%. There is also a significant Roman Catholic
community accounting for about 14%. There are also smaller communities of Jews,
Muslims, Baha’is, Hindus, Rastafarians and practitioners of traditional African religions
such as Obeah.===Languages===
The official language of the Bahamas is English. Many people speak an English-based creole
language called Bahamian dialect (known simply as “dialect”) or “Bahamianese”. Laurente Gibbs, a Bahamian writer and actor,
was the first to coin the latter name in a poem and has since promoted its usage. Both are used as autoglossonyms. Haitian Creole, a French-based creole language
is spoken by Haitians and their descendants, who make up of about 25% of the total population. It is known simply as Creole to differentiate
it from Bahamian English.==Culture==The culture of the islands is a mixture of
African (Afro-Bahamians being the largest ethnicity), British (as the former colonial
power) and American (as the dominant country in the region and source of most tourists).A
form of African-based folk magic (obeah) is practised by some Bahamians, mainly in the
Family Islands (out-islands) of the Bahamas. The practice of obeah is illegal in the Bahamas
and punishable by law.In the less developed outer islands (or Family Islands), handicrafts
include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called “straw”, is
plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items. Another use is for so-called “Voodoo dolls”,
even though such dolls are the result of foreign influences and not based in historic fact.Junkanoo
is a traditional Afro-Bahamian street parade of ‘rushing’, music, dance and art held in
Nassau (and a few other settlements) every Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Junkanoo is also used to celebrate other holidays
and events such as Emancipation Day.Regattas are important social events in many family
island settlements. They usually feature one or more days of sailing
by old-fashioned work boats, as well as an onshore festival. Many dishes are associated with Bahamian cuisine,
which reflects Caribbean, African and European influences. Some settlements have festivals associated
with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the “Pineapple Fest” in Gregory
Town, Eleuthera or the “Crab Fest” on Andros. Other significant traditions include story
telling. Bahamians have created a rich literature of
poetry, short stories, plays and short fictional works. Common themes in these works are (1) an awareness
of change, (2) a striving for sophistication, (3) a search for identity, (4) nostalgia for
the old ways and (5) an appreciation of beauty. Some major writers are Susan Wallace, Percival
Miller, Robert Johnson, Raymond Brown, O.M. Smith, William Johnson, Eddie Minnis and Winston
Saunders.Bahamas culture is rich with beliefs, traditions, folklore and legend. The best-known folklore and legends in the
Bahamas include the lusca and chickcharney creatures of Andros, Pretty Molly on Exuma
Bahamas and the Lost City of Atlantis on Bimini Bahamas.===Sport===
Sport is a significant part of Bahamian culture. The national sport is cricket. Cricket has been played in the Bahamas from
1846, the oldest sport being played in the country today. The Bahamas Cricket Association was formed
in 1936, and from the 1940s to the 1970s, cricket was played amongst many Bahamians. Bahamas is not a part of the West Indies Cricket
Board, so players are not eligible to play for the West Indies cricket team. The late 1970s saw the game begin to decline
in the country as teachers, who had previously come from the United Kingdom with a passion
for cricket, were replaced by teachers who had been trained in the United States. The Bahamian physical education teachers had
no knowledge of the game and instead taught track and field, basketball, baseball, softball,
volleyball and Association football where primary and high schools compete against each
other. Today cricket is still enjoyed by a few locals
and immigrants in the country, usually from Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Barbados. Cricket is played on Saturdays and Sundays
at Windsor Park and Haynes Oval. The only other sporting event that began before
cricket was horse racing, which started in 1796. The most popular spectator sports are those
imported from the United States, such as basketball, American football, and baseball, rather than
from the British Isles, due to the country’s close proximity to the United States, unlike
their other Caribbean counterparts, where cricket, rugby, and netball have proven to
be more popular. Dexter Cambridge, Rick Fox, Ian Lockhart,
Magnum Rolle, Buddy Hield and Deandre Ayton are a few Bahamians who joined Bahamian Mychal
Thompson of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA ranks. Over the years American football has become
much more popular than soccer, though not implemented in the high school system yet. Leagues for teens and adults have been developed
by the Bahamas American Football Federation. However soccer, as it is commonly known in
the country, is still a very popular sport amongst high school pupils. Leagues are governed by the Bahamas Football
Association. Recently, the Bahamian government has been
working closely with Tottenham Hotspur of London to promote the sport in the country
as well as promoting the Bahamas in the European market. In 2013, ‘Spurs’ became the first Premier
League club to play an exhibition match in the Bahamas, facing the Jamaican national
team. Joe Lewis, the owner of the club, is based
in the Bahamas.Other popular sports are swimming, tennis and boxing, where Bahamians have enjoyed
some degree of success at the international level. Other sports such as golf, rugby league, rugby
union, beach soccer, and netball are considered growing sports. Athletics, commonly known as ‘track and field’
in the country, is the most successful sport by far amongst Bahamians. Bahamians have a strong tradition in the sprints
and jumps. Track and field is probably the most popular
spectator sport in the country next to basketball due to their success over the years. Triathlons are gaining popularity in Nassau
and the Family Islands. Bahamians have gone on to win numerous track
and field medals at the Olympic Games, IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Commonwealth
Games and Pan American Games. Frank Rutherford is the first athletics olympic
medallist for the country. He won a bronze medal for triple jump during
the 1992 Summer Olympics. Pauline Davis-Thompson, Debbie Ferguson, Chandra
Sturrup, Savatheda Fynes and Eldece Clarke-Lewis teamed up for the first athletics Olympic
Gold medal for the country when they won the 4 × 100 m relay at the 2000 Summer Olympics. They are affectionately known as the “Golden
Girls”. Tonique Williams-Darling became the first
athletics individual Olympic gold medallist when she won the 400m sprint in 2004 Summer
Olympics. In 2007, with the disqualification of Marion
Jones, Pauline Davis-Thompson was advanced to the gold medal position in the 200 metres
at the 2000 Olympics, predating William-Darling. The Bahamas were hosts of the first men’s
senior FIFA tournament to be staged in the Caribbean, the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World
Cup. The Bahamas also hosted the first 3 editions
of the IAAF World Relays.==Education==According to 1995 estimates, 98.2% of the
Bahamian adult population are literate.The University of the Bahamas (UB) is the national
higher education/tertiary system. Offering baccalaureate, masters and associate
degrees, UB has three campuses, and teaching and research centres throughout the Bahamas. The University of the Bahamas was chartered
on 10 November 2016.==Transport==The Bahamas contains about 1,620 km (1,010
mi) of paved roads. Inter-island transport is conducted primarily
via ship and air. The country has 61 airports, the chief of
which are Lynden Pindling International Airport on New Providence, Grand Bahama International
Airport on Grand Bahama Island and Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (formerly
Marsh Harbour Airport) on Abaco Island.==See also==Outline of the Bahamas
Index of Bahamas-related articles Bahamas – Wikipedia book

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