The Bahamas is a 5,358 square mile island nation that is situated within the Atlantic Ocean. Statistics from the World Bank indicate that in 2017 the nominal gross domestic product of Bahamas was estimated to be $12.16 billion which at the time was the 128th highest in the world. In 2017, the per capita gross domestic product of the Bahamas was approximately $30,762 which was the 42nd highest in the world. Due to the size of its economy, the Bahamas is considered one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean region. Several financial organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund consider the Bahamas to be a developing nation. The economic success of the Bahamas can be attributed to some factors such as the proper utilization of the country's natural resources and the economic policies implemented by the government. Several of the most critical natural resources in the Bahamas include the beautiful scenery and the arable land.
Natural Resources of the Bahamas
Data published by the World Bank indicated that in 2014, arable land accounted for approximately 0.8% of the country's total land area. The low amount of land in the Bahamas dedicated to agriculture can be attributed to some factors such as the policies implemented by one of its main trading partners, the United States (US). During the early 20th century, the US government implemented protectionist trade policies that made it more expensive for farmers from the Bahamas to sell their products to the US. Some of the products that were significantly affected by the policies included tomatoes and citrus fruits. In the present day, some of the most important crops grown within the Bahamas include okra, tomatoes, and oranges. One of the main areas where agriculture is practiced in the Bahamas is the Abaco Islands. The government of the Bahamas has put in place some measures to increase the country's agricultural production such as setting aside 703 square miles of land for agriculture. The Bahamian government also encouraged residents to study various fields related to agriculture to increase their knowledge of the sector. The Bahamian government is also encouraging investors from other nations to invest in the country's agriculture sector.
The fruits grown in the Bahamas are some of the most important natural resources in the country. The climate of the Bahamas supports a wide variety of fruits such as avocados and oranges. Fruit growing is particularly prevalent on the Abaco Islands which are situated on the northern edge of the Bahamas. Statistics indicate that fruits are among the most important exports from the Abaco Islands.
Due to its location in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas has a wide variety of fish. Fishing in the Bahamas is carried out for a variety of reasons such as a source of food for some families, for commercial use, or just recreation. Due to the limited agricultural resources in the Bahamas, fish is a popular dish in the Bahamas. Most of the subsistence fishing in the country is carried out in the Family Islands. Recreational fishing is an extremely vital economic activity in the Bahamas. The Bahamas is popular with sports fishers since its territorial waters are home to a variety of fish such as sailfish, marlin, and tuna. Some of the islands popular with recreational fishers include Andros Island and Long Island. Commercial fishing is also an essential component of the Bahamian economy with estimates indicating that millions of fish are caught each year in the country's waters. Commercial fishing in the Bahamas is considered lucrative due to several factors particularly the presence of deep waters used by some fish species in their migration. The Bahamian government passed laws that ensured only Bahamian nationals could utilize the country's fish resources for economic purposes.
According to information obtained by the World Bank, in 2015 forests covered approximately 51.5% of the Bahamas' total land area. The Bahamian government established the Forestry Unit in 2010 to manage the country's forest resources. Most of the forests in the country are classified as dry forests and are primarily located on the northern edge of the nation. Several kinds of trees thrive in the Bahamas with the most common being the haulback tree, the autograph tree, and the West Indian mahogany. Forests in the Bahamas have been exploited for a long period that dates back to the 18th century. During this period, Bahamian hardwoods were cut down for export which greatly reduced the country's forest cover. During the 1970s, the government rescinded all the licenses for forest exploitation, and the focus shifted from exploiting the forests on a large scale. As part of the shift in focus, the Bahamian government partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to create a forest management system.
Recently research has indicated that the Bahamas has vast deposits of oil within its waters. In 2017, the government of the Bahamas publicly announced that it would be inviting companies from all over the world to explore oil in its waters. One of the companies that applied for a permit to drill for oil within Bahamian territorial waters was the Bahamas Petroleum Company. Estimates from an independent audit indicated that the company could obtain at least 1.6 billion barrels of oil from the region.
The Bahamas has been blessed with numerous breathtaking sites that attract huge numbers of tourists to the nation. Tourism is the most vital economic activity in the Bahamas as it contributes close to 60% of the country's gross domestic product. Estimates from the Bahamas Department of Labor indicate that close to 50% of the country's active labor force is either actively or passively involved in the tourism sector. Some of the most beautiful spots in the state include The Grand Bahama Island, the Bimini Islands, and Andros Island.
Challenges Facing the Bahamian Economy
The economy of the Bahamas faces some problems with the most significant one being the overreliance on tourism. Another challenge that the Bahamian economy faced was the uneven development which caused a large number of people to move from one section of the country to another. The mass migration caused a reduction in the available labor in several areas such as the Family Islands.