13,939 sq km (5382 sq miles).
316,182 (July 2012 est.)
21.9 per sq km.
Nassau. Population: 212,432 (official estimate 2000).
The Bahamas consist of 700 low-lying islands, mostly islets (cays or keys) and rocks. The whole archipelago extends 970km (500 miles) southeastward from the coast of Florida, surrounded by clear, colorful waters. The soil is thin, but on the more developed islands, cultivation has produced exotic flowers. On other islands are large areas of pine forest, rocky and barren land, swamp and unspoilt beaches. The Bahamas are divided into two oceanic features, the Little Bahama Bank and the Great Bahama Bank.
Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence in 1973. Head of State: HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Sir Arthur Foulkes. Head of Government: Prime Minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham since 1992.
The official and national language is English.
The three main Christian denominations are Baptist, Anglican and Roman Catholic.
GMT – 5.
120 volts AC, 60Hz.
IDD is available. Country code: 1 242. New Providence and all islands have automatic telephone systems. The state telephone company, BaTelCo, offers both manual- and automatic-dial mobile radio telephones which allow callers to contact ships at sea. Phone cards can be purchased at discounted rates for international calls.
Handsets must be registered with BaTelCo (tel: 394 4000; fax: 394 3573; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Visitors will need to purchase a SIM card if their provider has no agreement with BaTelCo. Handsets can be hired locally.
There are a few Internet cafés on Grand Bahama Island and Nassau Island open seven days a week. Laptop connections are available, as are webcams and facilities for scanning and copying. The main ISP is BaTelNet (website: www.batelnet.bs).
Postal service to Europe takes up to ten days. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0830-1730 and Sat 0830-1230.