The Bahamas is an archipelagic state situated in the Lucayan archipelago. The state has over seven hundred islets, cays, and islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bahamas is situated to the southwestern side of the US state of Florida, and north of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba. The Bahamas is the eighteenth most populous country in North America with over 422,678 residents.
Relationship Between the Bahamas and the US
Even though the Bahamas is part of the Americas, it has never been part of the United States. The Bahamas is a commonwealth state that gained its independence from the British in 1973. The Bahamas became part of the British Empire in 1783 after Spain returned the region to the British under the terms of the Paris Treaty. Before Christopher Columbus arrived in the islands, the Bahamas belonged to the Lucayan people.
The United States and the Bahamas have a strong bilateral relationship represented by their ambassador in Washington. US citizens traveling to the Bahamas are only required to produce their passports, but people from most other countries must have a visa and passport. Despite their strong cultural, social and economic ties, the Bahamas is not a U.S. state or territory.
Geography of the Bahamas
The Bahamas has numerous islands. Bimini Island, also referred to as the gateways to the Bahamas, is the closest to the US. Inagua is the easternmost island while Andros is the biggest. Some of the inhabited islands include New Providence, Mayaguana, Ragged Islands, Berry Islands, Crooked Island, Acklins, San Salvador Island, Eleuthera, Rum Cay, Long Island, and Cat Island. All the islands are flat with numerous ridges which are between 49ft and 66ft tall. The tallest mountain in the country is Mount Alvernia. Mount Alvernia is approximately 207ft, and it is situated in the Cat Island.
Government of the Bahamas
As a Commonwealth state, the Bahamas retained the Queen as the head of state, and she is represented by a Governor-General. The Bahamas has a bicameral government which is made up of a sixteen-member Senate and a thirty-eight member house of Assembly. The Governor General appoints the Senators while the people elect the members of the House of Assembly. Their legal and political system adheres to the traditions of the British and the Westminster system. The Prime Minister has the power to dissolve the House of Assembly and call for a general election before the five-year term is over.
Economy of the Bahamas
The Bahamas is the third richest nation in the Americas in terms of GDP per capita. Some of the main sectors which account for a huge percentage of their GDP include tourism and financial services. Other than accounting for approximately 60% of the country’s GDP, the tourism industry has employed over 50% of the Bahamian workforce. The offshore international financial services and banking sector account for over 15% of the Bahamian GDP. The third largest sector in the Bahamas, which contributes up to 7% of their GDP, is the agricultural industry. Some of the principal crops grown in the Bahamas include sweet potatoes, limes, lemons, sugar canes, cucumbers, grapefruits, tomatoes, oranges, and onions.