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About The Bahamas

General Information:
The Bahamas extends in a 1,225 km arc from 78 km east of Palm Beach, Florida, to just north of Haiti. The Bahamas consists of an archipelago of nearly 700 islands and 2,000 cays scattered over 250,000 sq. km of the brilliant blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. New Providence Island, site of the capital city of Nassau, has an area of 215 sq km. The second largest city, Freeport, is on Grand Bahama Island, which has an area of 1,370 sq. km. It is less than 60 km from Miami. The three largest islands in the chain are Andros, 6,000 sq. km; Abaco, 1,685 sq. km and Inaguas, 1,554 sq. km. 

Population 
The population of the Bahamas is approximately 340,000 the majority of whom are black and inhabit 20 of The Islands of The Bahamas. Most of the population live on the Island of New Providence and Grand Bahama Island. Many of the Islands are uninhabited due to the lack of fresh water.

Political Structure 
The Bahamas was initially settled in around 1640 by the Eleutherian Adventurers, a group of Englishmen who sailed from Bermuda. The Bahamas has had a representative form of Government since the 17th century. In July 1973, the Bahamas achieved its goal of becoming an independent country within the British Commonwealth. A Governor General appointed by the British Government is responsible for defence, external affairs and internal security. 

However, the real head of the Government is an elected Prime Minister who consults with a Cabinet of sixteen, twelve Cabinet Ministers and four Ministers of State chosen from the Legislature. There are four political parties, the dominant Progressive Liberal Party, Free National Movement Party, and Labour Party. The bicameral legislature has a 49 member House of Assembly and a 16 member Senate.

Infrastructure and Economy 
The Bahamas has excellent communications. Twelve airlines including Bahamas Air (the national carrier), Air Canada, Delta Airlines and US Air fly to the Bahamas. They offer daily flight schedules to New York and Miami, weekly flights to Toronto also charter flights between European cities and Nassau. Miami is only 30 minutes away by jet aircraft and New York is less than three hours away. British Airways has regular flights from the United Kingdom to the Bahamas via Miami. In addition to Nassau International on New Providence, an airport with a runway for jets serves Freeport, the Nationís second city and there are 41 other commercial airports and landing strips. 

Excellent overseas telephone service includes direct dialling. A new telex system has been installed and cable transmission has been improved by an underground cable line extending to West Palm Beach, Florida. There are also excellent postal and courier services.

Language 
The official and spoken language is English. 

Currency 
Bahamas Dollar is on a par with the US Dollar. 

Exchange Control 
Residents are subject to Exchange Control, but International Business Companies are exempted. 

Type of Law 
Statute Law and Common Law based on English Common Law.

Banking hours
In Nassau, Paradise Island and Freeport/Lucaya, banks are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday. Hours vary throughout the other islands.

Driving
Drive on the left. Visitors may use their home license for up to three months and can also apply for an international driver's license. 

Electricity
120 volts AC, 60 cycles. American appliances are compatible. A transformer is needed to use European appliances. 

Passport/Visa Requirements
US visitors staying for eight months or fewer need only a valid passport or an original or certified copy of birth certificate along with pictured identification as evidence of citizenship. Canadian visitors staying three weeks or fewer need the same. All others need a valid passport. Other visitors may also require a visa.

Public Holidays
01 Jan   New Years Day 
21 Apr   Good Friday 
24 Apr   Easter Monday 
Seven weeks after Easter Whit Monday 
First Friday in June Labor Day 
10 Jul    Independence Day 
First Monday of August Emancipation Day 
12 Oct   Discovery Day 
25 Dec Christmas Day 
26 Dec Boxing Day

 

 

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