Facts at a glance:
Capital: Nassau (New Providence island)
Form of Government: Parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth.
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II represented by Governor-General, Dame Ivy Dumont.
Head of Government: Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Alexander Ingraham
Location: An archipelago of 700 islands and more than 2,000 cays extending in a 1200 km (750 mi.) arc from 27EN, 50 miles off the southeastern coast of Florida to the northern edge of the Caribbean, at 21EN.
Area: 13,942 sq.km. (5,383 sq.mi.)
Population: 300,529 (2002 est.)
Ethnic Make-Up: About 86% of African descent, 6% European and 8%mixed.
Adult Literacy: 98%
Currency: Bahamian Dollar (B$)
Exchange rate: B$1.00 = US$ 1.00
Time Zone: EST; GMT-5
Phone Code: (242) plus local 7-digit number
History: Prior to 1492, when Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World, allegedly in these islands, the Bahamas Islands were occupied by aboriginal peoples known as Lucayans (Arawaks, Caribs). The islands were variously occupied by the English, French settlers, Dutch boaters and Spanish sea merchants.
From 1670 to 1838, the British fortified the island of New Providence, using Lord Proprietors and Royal Governors to administer and regulate all activity. The islands became a British colony in 1717. Following the U.S. Revolutionary War of 1776-83, about 6,000 loyalists and their slaves settled in the Bahamas.
The Bahamas became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth on July 10, 1973.
UWI Connections: The Bahamas is a contributing country. Although not the site for a full-fledged UWI campus, the Centre for Hotel & Tourism Management is located in Nassau and the first year of the Law degree is administered at the College of the Bahamas in Nassau. Total students on campus: 2002 (2004/2005).