Bahamas, The: Background & Geography

Introduction Bahamas, The
Background:
Arawak Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World on San Salvador in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. Because of its geography, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US.
Geography Bahamas, The
Location:
Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba
Geographic coordinates:
24 15 N, 76 00 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
Area:
total: 13,940 sq km
water: 3,870 sq km
land: 10,070 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
3,542 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate:
tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream
Terrain:
long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Alvernia, on Cat Island 63 m
Natural resources:
salt, aragonite, timber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 0.6%
permanent crops: 0.4%
other: 99% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage
Environment - current issues:
coral reef decay; solid waste disposal
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain of which 30 are inhabited

See Also: