As the classic Bahamian calypso song says, “Once is not enough. Even twice, you don’t see all of we stuff!” The exotic beauty and diversity of the Islands of The Bahamas are awe inspiring. The more you explore these islands the more you will see why The Bahamas is the ideal location for real estate investments.
Although The Bahamas is a premier vacation destination, it is also much more. Rated as one of the top banking centers in the world, the country’s financial services industry is second only to tourism.
Our nation has enjoyed a stable parliamentary democracy for more than 276 years. It is the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere! A former British colony, The Bahamas achieved independence on July 10th, 1973.
Now a fully self-governing member of the Commonwealth of Nations, The Bahamas recognizes Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. The Governor General is Her Majesty's representative and our Prime Minister heads the executive branch.
Since 1966, the Bahamian dollar has been pegged at the same rate as the U.S. dollar. The two are used at par throughout the country.
A major incentive for investors is the freedom from income and inheritance taxes, corporate, capital gains and sales tax.
Foreign ownership of property is encouraged by recent law. Should you wish to reside for a few months or retire here, accelerated consideration for Bahamian residency can be obtained with a minimum property investment of $500,000.
The Bahamas offers a state of the art communication system, backed by satellite. As The Bahamas is in the Eastern Time zone, it is easy for you to do business with both American and Canadian Stock Exchanges.
With investment incentives, international air and sea links, modern telecommunications and extensive medical facilities, The Bahamas offers the ultimate investment environment.
Main exports are pharmaceuticals, cement, rum, crawfish (spiny lobster) and refined petroleum products. Tourism generates 50% of the total GDP and directly/indirectly employs half of the total workforce.
The Bahamas reflects a mixture of influences. We drive on the left-hand side of the road as in Britain, while most of our cars were designed for the U.S. and are left-hand drive.
Come, relax and stay with us awhile. The longer you stay, the more you realize how diverse is our island nation. Themselves from many nations, our people are waiting to welcome you. For more information visit www.bahamas.gov.bs.
“The isles of perpetual June.” That’s how George Washington so accurately described The Bahamas following a visit in the 1760’s. Our climate is tropical maritime and the sun shines an average of 320 days a year!
Gentle trade winds cool us in summer and the Gulf Stream moderates temperatures in the winter. Daily summer temperatures rarely rise above 90°F / 32°C (June to August) or drop below 70°F / 21°C in winter (December to February).
Sea surface temperatures are always warm compared to most of the world, averaging about 80°F year-round.
The northern islands receive much more rain than their southerly neighbours. The rainy season runs from May to November, usually bringing only short, heavy showers followed by more sunshine.
Summertime sometimes brings squalls and hurricanes. The latter are well forecasted, rare and tend to veer south of The Bahamas or north into the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane season runs June 1st to November 30th with peak activity in August and September.
Paradise Island and Nassau are particularly sheltered by neighbouring islands which provide good protection from storms. This fact, along with the large harbour created by Paradise Island, are two reasons New Providence was chosen as the capital city location.
For centuries, the Bahama Islands have attracted visitors to their sand-fringed shores. Some have stayed. Some have simply passed through, but all have marveled at the beauty and climate of these “Isles of June”.
Over 5,400 square miles of land mass with approximately 2,200 miles of coastline! In this nation of islands you are never far from the waterfront!
Strung like jewels across a spectacular sea, The Bahamas is a chain of 700 islands and nearly 2,500 small islets or cays. Beginning 40 miles (64 km) east of Florida, the 100,000 square mile archipelago (259,000 square kilometers) stretches southeast for 500 miles.
The Spaniards called the islands “Baja Mar” which means “Shallow Sea”. The waters throughout The Bahamas are among the clearest and most breathtaking in the world. The dramatic hues result from a sandy sea floor, dramatic depth variations and lack of pollution and silt. Visibility can be over 200 feet (61 meters)!
The Tongue of the Ocean has some of the deepest water in the world—over a mile deep! Named for its appearance from the air, it resembles a dark blue tongue lolling between the islands of Andros and New Providence (Nassau). It is the site for the Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), the world’s largest of its kind. This unusual underwater canyon is thought by some to have a connection to the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon.
Our 170 mile long Androsian Barrier Reef is the third largest in the world and flanks the Tongue of the Ocean. The Gulf Stream, commonly referred to as the "Great Ocean River", borders The Bahamas on the west.
Though categorized as a Caribbean nation, The Bahamas is actually in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.
This archipelago has the world's highest concentration of "blue holes," mysterious water-filled entrances to enormous underground labyrinths linking land and sea.
Most Bahamian islands are situated along the eastern edge of large, shallow water platforms, separated by deep ocean channels. The largest platforms are the Great Bahama Bank, containing the islands of Andros, The Exumas, New Providence, Paradise Island, Eleuthera, Long Island and Cat Island; while the Little Bahama Bank cradles Grand Bahama and The Abacos.
The terrain is mostly long coral formations with some rounded hills and spectacular miles of pink and white sand beaches. The highest point is Mount Alvernia on Cat Island at 206 ft (63 meters) above sea level.
There are 14 main inhabited islands, with the capital city of Nassau centrally located on the island of New Providence.
Apart from the islands that host our 2 cities, Nassau and Freeport, the rest of The Bahamas is fondly referred to as the Family Islands or Out Islands.
Visit a Family Island and you’ve stepped back in time… miles of deserted beaches, crystalline water teeming with marine life and native orchids at the roadsides. Each island provides endless discovery and adventure.
The Exumas are known for the most spectacular extremes of colour in the sea; San Salvador for Columbus’ first landfall in the New World; Andros for bonefishing and diving; The Abacos for island hopping and quaint settlements; The Biminis as Ernest Hemingway’s sport-fishing grounds which inspired “Islands In The Stream” and “Old Man and the Sea”; Inagua for flamingos, and Harbour Island for endless pink sand beaches!
The friendly residents of these islands and cays often have unique dialects and cultural traditions created by years of isolation. Now easily accessible by air and sea, new luxury resorts and residential communities are enjoying high demand.
The Government of The Bahamas is encouraging development of these islands with the anticipation of infrastructure, jobs and business opportunities benefiting Bahamians. Special consideration is said to be given for protecting national resources and the environment. For more information visit www.bahamas.com.
Bahamians are best described as an easy-going, friendly and hospitable people. The racial composition in The Bahamas is approximately 85% of African origin and the remaining 15% of European and other origins.
The adult literacy rate is over 90% with a rapidly growing professional class and university educated workforce.
Data obtained from the 2000 Census.
The "Lukku-cairi" or island people, as they called themselves, were the first settlers in The Bahamas. Originally from South America, they arrived in The Bahamas around the Ninth Century AD.
It was on an island in The Bahamas upon which Columbus and his crew first set foot in the New World. The native people called this island Guanahani and Columbus called it San Salvador. In 1925 Watling Island, was officially re-named San Salvador. A fascinating debate on the true location of Guanahani continues. For more information visit www.answers.com/topic/guanahani.
Known today as the Arawaks, the first inhabitants of The Bahamas were also called "Lucayans" and "Indians"- a label given by Columbus, who still mistakenly thought he had found the East Indies.
These islands were completely depopulated by 1513 when Ponce de Leon came in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth. He died on this quest with merely the discovery of North America (Florida) to his credit. The Arawaks either were the victims of European diseases or were deported to the Greater Antilles as slaves.
For over 100 years, The Bahamas remained unpopulated by humans. The Spanish by-passed the islands for more lucrative locations in their quest for gold and fertile lands.
The British slowly took possession of this region, initially because of its strategic position on the perimeter of the Spanish colonies. They finally declared it a crown possession in 1629.
In 1648 William Sayle and his Eleutherian Adventurers arrived from Bermuda to avoid religious persecution. The Puritans established the first British permanent settlement in The Bahamas at Governor's Harbour on the island of Eleuthera, which means “Freedom”.
The group was factious and soon split, with the remaining Adventurers scattered and near starvation. Their descendants still live in Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Spanish Wells and The Abacos. Government sponsored settlers continued to arrive, enticed by Crown land grants. In 1670 control of the islands was parceled out to six Lord Proprietors of the Carolinas.
Island geography, treacherous waters and lack of attention from a government at war in Europe created a 100 year haven in The Bahamas for the real pirates of the Caribbean, privateers and wreckers. Slow-moving ships, weighed down with riches, were easy prey for legendary pirates like Blackbeard, Henry Morgan and Anne Bonny. Rumors still exist today of wrecked Spanish galleons and hidden treasure throughout the Islands of The Bahamas.
Britain recognized the islands as a colony in 1718, taking control back from the Proprietors. The first Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers, was given a mandate to clean up Nassau. He offered pirates the choice of surrender with amnesty or hanging upon capture. He was largely successful although wrecking (using false lighthouses to lure ships onto rocks and salvage their cargo) continued well into the 1800’s.
After the Revolutionary War, many American colonists loyal to Britain migrated to The Bahamas. Between 1783 and 1785 more than 8,000 Loyalists and their slaves arrived, tripling the population. They built plantation estates, but enjoyed short-lived success due to drought, insects and poor soil conditions. The Loyalists also brought their Colonial building skills and shipbuilding expertise.
At the start of the 1800’s the Bahamian population was near 12,000. 75% were slaves and the rest white and black freemen. In 1807 the British Government made it illegal to purchase slaves directly from Africa. The Royal Navy began patrols, liberating slaves and settling them throughout the West Indies as freed men or bound apprentices. The "Loyalist Period" ended in 1834, when the Crown completely abolished slavery.
Until the American Civil War (1861-65) most residents of The Bahamas suffered extreme poverty. Failed plantations, dwindling supplies of sponges and high fruit tariffs effectively eliminated existing industries. Even profitable wrecking suffered from new maps and lighthouses.
Almost overnight the American Civil War created the lucrative and adventurous industry of blockade running. Shipments to and from the Confederacy were re-routed though The Bahamas. The shipbuilding industry also received a major boost. The resulting first Bahama “boom time” ran from 1859-1866. On Bay Street in Nassau, the nightclubs, cafes and new Royal Victoria Hotel were packed. Although fictional, perhaps the most famous blockade runner and Nassau visitor of this era is Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. After the war, the Bahamian economy slipped into reverse.
Britain’s hardships during World War I kept the Bahamian economy in a downturn until 1920 and the era of U.S. prohibition of alcohol. Bahamian smugglers, with their vast boatbuilding and navigation skills, immediately profited as rum-runners. From 1920–1933 The Bahamas rode another high in our boom-or-bust cycle. The hotels were crowded with tourists and gangsters until the end of prohibition and the Great Depression.
In the 1930’s Sir Harry Oakes was one of the first to envision The Bahamas as a tax haven and winter retreat. The Canadian multi-millionaire bought up enormous portions of New Providence and the Family Islands. He initiated construction projects that helped assuage the effects of the Great Depression in The Bahamas.
World War II brought the Allies to the islands in force. In the 1940’s five naval bases were established here for anti-submarine operations in the south Atlantic. Two airbases were built and the economy began a more gradual and sustained climb.
The rise of Fidel Castro in 1959 and the resulting closure of Cuba to U.S. tourists created an opportunity that was not missed by Bahamian businessman Sir Stafford Sands. Remembered as the “Father of Tourism” in The Bahamas, he was instrumental within the Bahamas Development Board and efforts to attract more tourists. He even envisioned and created Bahamian currency as a lucrative souvenir.
The government established Swiss-style banking and tax laws which attracted increased investor money. One air base was converted into the Nassau International Airport, the harbour was dredged for cruise ships and Hogg Island was transformed into luxurious Paradise Island. Resorts began to spring up throughout the islands.
In the meantime, the civil rights movement in the U.S. and anti-colonial struggles elsewhere began to reflect in the growing black middle class. The call for a representative government and even distribution of economic opportunity was led by Sir Lynden Pindling, founder of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s the struggle for power continued relatively peacefully. A national strike in 1963 pushed the British parliament to draw up a new constitution for The Bahamas, adopted in 1964. The colonial-style government was replaced with an elected government headed by a Prime Minister. National elections were held in 1964 and won by the mostly white United Bahamian Party (UBP). Only landowners could vote and this minimized the black voice.
The PLP adopted a strategy of non-co-operation which resulted in new elections in 1967. They won and Pindling became the Prime Minister. Now the movement focused on gaining independence from Britain, which was achieved after an overwhelming PLP victory in the 1972 elections. A peaceful turnover of power occurred at midnight on July 10th, 1973, amidst joyful celebrations.
The Bahamas remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and still recognizes Her Majesty the Queen as our Head of State. The years since independence have brought mostly prosperity and The Bahamas enjoys the most stable government and economy in the Caribbean.
Though known best for spectacular marine life, The Bahamas boasts a variety of exotic animals and plants.
From the endangered Abaco Barbs (wild horses) and Bahama Parrot, both found in The Abacos to the north, to the world’s largest breeding colony of West Indian Flamingos on Great Inagua in the south, the beauty and diversity of our islands will keep you in awe of nature.
Many native species are beginning to struggle, are already endangered or are fighting back from near extinction. Some protective measures, seasonal restrictions and nature preserves are in place. The Bahamas National Trust and similar organizations are pushing for further protection. www.bahamasnationaltrust.com
The world's first land-and-sea park was established in the Exuma Cays in 1958. Many others have followed.
Invasive imported plant species such as Casuarina (Australian Pine) threaten the delicate balance of our island ecology.
Visit www.bahamaswildlife.fsnet.co.uk to view a collection of in-depth articles and photos describing the wildlife, plants and other features of The Bahamas.
The Bahamas has 13 native land mammal species and all but one are bats. All are endangered! The most common is the leaf-nosed bat.
The only native terrestrial mammal is the endangered Hutia, a large brown rodent similar to a guinea pig.
The mysterious wild horses of Abaco were once a herd of over 200. Whether by shipwreck or abandonment, they arrived shortly after Columbus. Officially registered as the Abaco Barbs, they are a rare strain of the critically endangered Spanish Barbs. The remaining 12 horses live on a preserve and the fight to save them continues. www.arkwild.org
Wild boars roam the backcountry on some of the larger islands and were once the sole inhabitants of Paradise Island—then ironically named Hogg Island.
The Bahamas has over 90 species of butterflies. More than 230 species of birds either migrate to or live here and 109 species of bird breed within our islands.
The endemic and endangered Bahama Parrot is now found only in The Abacos and Inagua. The Abaco population is the only ground nesting parrot in the New World and is the only fire adapted parrot in the entire world. The Abaco National Park encompasses 20,500 acres of the endangered parrot’s habitat.
Though rarely seen, a few slithery things can be found in these islands. Happily we have no poisonous snakes, but we do have 41 species of reptiles. Some 60% of these species are endemic or found nowhere else.
The Bahamas Boa (Epicrates Striatus) is known locally as the Chicken Snake. These can grow to 8 feet and are helpful in controlling various pest species!
The cute Curly-tailed Lizard is found throughout many of the islands (especially in The Abacos) and is easily spotted for its curlicue tail.
Stop at Allan’s Cay in The Exumas and you can feed endangered Bahamas Rock Iguanas. They crowd the beach like a scene from Jurassic Park and happily gobble up grapes thrown by tourists!
There are over 900 square miles of reefs in The Bahamas and 5% of the world's coral.
The waters of The Bahamas are teeming with thousands of species of marine life. Snorkelers and scuba divers enjoy colorful sealife of all sizes: eels, rays, shellfish, reef fish, crustaceans, sharks, and even an occasional endangered sea turtle. (You can see many of these up-close at Atlantis on Paradise Island.)
Atlantic Bottle-Nosed Dolphins frequent these waters, as do the less often seen Spotted Dolphins. Boaters delight in the playful mammals as they leap through boat wakes or race at the bow. Majestic Humpback and Blue Whales may be sighted in the waters east of the islands.
Some of the most popular local marine species for seafood are the Nassau Grouper, Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab, Yellow-Fin Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Shrimp, and Conch (pronounced “konk”). You may dine on fresh seafood at most restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
There are over 1,370 species of trees and plants found throughout these islands, including the Bahamian Mahogany and 120 other natives. The Bahamas has over 56 species of native orchid! Fragrant vines like Jasmine and Honeysuckle send clouds of fragrance through the evening air.
When Columbus set foot in the New World, the Lucayans brought gifts including Sea Island Cotton, a native hibiscus relative. The vegetation he encountered was similar to what may still be seen in remote areas of the Family Islands where large hardwood trees are covered in local orchids and bromeliads.
Flowers abound every month of the year and many are associated with trees. Royal Poinciana, a favorite of local artists, lines the streets of Nassau with its large orange canopy. Another beauty is the Blue Mahoe, an endemic form of hibiscus that blazes from yellow to red.
Fruit trees seem to be everywhere in The Bahamas. Neighbourhood children tend to keep close track of their seasonal progress. Exotic and delicious fruit include mango, tamarind, papaya, sapodilla, bananas, passion fruit, citrus, soursop, avocado pear, custard apple, guava, gunip, hog plum, Barbados cherry, sugar apple, coco plum and many more.
Our native pineapple (Ananas comosus) is the sweetest in the world and primarily grown on Eleuthera. Locals call it “Sugar Loaf” and enjoy slices dipped in salty sea water. The Eleuthera pineapple stock was used at the Dole plantations in Hawaii.
Large scale farming of cotton, pineapple, sisal and sugar cane have all been tried and then abandoned. Most farming today tends to be subsistence farming, although new methods are being used successfully. For an example of this, visit www.goodfellowfarms.com.
Bush medicine is widely practiced throughout The Bahamas and involves brewing herbal potions or teas from local plants. The practice evolved over many generations out of necessity, with few doctors or resources available on remote islands. Many bush medicine remedies have received official international recognition.
Pine forests rule the northern and western islands. The Caribbean pines (Pinus caribaea) exist in The Bahamas only on Grand Bahama, Andros, The Abacos and New Providence Islands. The pine forests of Abaco provide shelter to rare descendants of endangered Spanish Barb horses, the endangered Bahama Parrot, scores of migrating birds and numerous native orchids and bromeliads.
Many of the leeward (western) shores are fringed by mangroves, the only tree able to survive with its roots in saltwater. The most extensive Mangrove swamps are found on the western side of Andros. Mangroves provide a breeding ground and nursery environment for reef fish and sharks. Debris from the Mangroves form an important base in the marine food chain.
Indigenous plants have adapted to the harsh growing conditions of the Bahama Islands. They require little attention to thrive and indigenous birds and other animals rely on them for food. Destruction of habitat and replacement of the native plants with imported non-natives are major threats to our island wildlife. For tips on gardening with native plants check with local garden clubs, nurseries and visit www.friendsoftheenvironment.org.