Bahamas

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, in the West Indies is an archipelago of 700 islands and cays. The name is derived from the Spaniards, who called these Caribbean islands Baja Mar meaning Shallow Sea.

Bahamas Real Estate, Economy and Infrastructure
Bahama condo unitsThe Caribbean Island of the Bahamas is a developing nation with a stable economy, dependent primarily on the tourism and offshore banking industries. Tourism accounts for more than 75% of the GDP and employs almost half the work force, either directly or indirectly.

A steady upswing in tourism and a related boom in the Bahamas real estate sector including construction of hotels, resorts and residences, have led to a solid GDP growth in the past many years. Rated as one of the best offshore banking and Caribbean real estate centers in the world today, the Caribbean island of the Bahamas has a thriving financial services industry that is second only to tourism.

Manufacturing and agriculture contributes to approximately 10% of the GDP and there has been little growth in these sectors, in spite of government incentives. An urban renewal project has been launched recently, to help impoverished urban areas which were witnessing social decline. The aim is to try to minimize crime rates and prevent urban vicissitude. Today, the Caribbean Island of the Bahamas enjoys the Western Hemisphere’s third highest per capita income.

canal front home in the Bahama islandsSince 1966, the Bahamian dollar has been traded at the same rate as the U.S. dollar. These two currencies are used on par everywhere on the Bahamas.

A major incentive provided to Bahamas real estate investors is the freedom from all income and inheritance taxes, corporate, capital gain and sales tax. Foreign ownership of Bahamian property is encouraged and expedited consideration for Bahamian residency is possible with a minimum property investment of $500,000. This is for people who wish to reside here long-term or to retire on the islands. The Bahamas also offers a state-of-the-art communication system and its location in the Eastern Time zone facilitates business dealings with the American and Canadian Stock Exchanges. Needless to say, the Bahamas is the ideal place to pursue Caribbean real estate investment opportunities, whether you choose to buy or rent property on the island.

With a special government focus on Bahamas real estate investment incentives, international air and sea links, as well as modern telecommunications and medical facilities, the Bahamas offers a very good investment environment.

Bahamas Activities, Dining and Entertainment

Diving_BahThe Caribbean island of the Bahamas may seem secluded and peaceful, but there are a multitude of activities that keep the islands alive and rocking. The Bahamas serve as host to some world-famous competitions and activities while offering some of the best fishing, diving and boating in the world. The choice of different activities to suit your tastes, like bird watching, boating and sailing, as well as cricket, cycling, diving and eco-tours makes the Bahamas one of the most sought-after vacation and real estate investment destinations in the Caribbean. The emerald and turquoise waters, breathtaking beaches, seclusion, meandering miles of white and pink sand are big attractions. There is a rich history and culture attached to the Island, waiting to be discovered on the special inland treks and strolls through the towns. The islands are home to some of the most exotic birds in the world. Waterfowl and wading birds are the most common types, with a variety of egrets and herons, Caribbean coots, ruddy ducks and Bahama pintails, as well as ospreys and belted kingfishers. Migrating birds flock to the islands in the autumn and winter months. Its uninhabited cays, hidden coves, and annual regattas attract over 100,000 boaters from around the world every year. With some of the flattest landscapes, the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas offer easy cycling terrain and bicycles are readily available.

A great way to experience Bahamian culture is through Bahamian cuisine, which is available at roadside and beachside eateries, as well as in fine-dining establishments. Although every type of international cuisine can be had on the islands, remember to sample the local cuisine, which is absolutely delicious.

Bahamaian seafood platter saladSeafood is an inseparable part of the staple Bahamian diet. Fresh, uncooked conch is simply amazing. It can also be eaten deep fried, steamed, in soup, salad and stew or as conch chowder and fritters. Bahamian rock lobster is usually served broiled, minced or added to salads. Other delicacies include boiled or baked land crabs. Fresh fish is also a big part of local cuisine. Boiled fish served with grits is an excellent way of savoring the fresh catch. Stewed fish, with celery, onions, tomatoes and spices, is another local specialty. Most dishes are accompanied by a side dish of pigeon peas and rice cooked with spices, tomatoes and onions.

Bahamas Climate
 
Sunset_Fishing_BahThe climate of the islands is subtropical to tropical, making it pleasant all year round due to the Gulf Stream. In the summer and fall hurricanes will occasionally form in the vicinity of the islands.
 
The Bahamas are an ideal place to invest in Caribbean real estate, due to the fact that the islands experience both, mild winters and warm summers. The cool trade winds pleasantly pass through the Islands in summer and the moderate, warm Gulf Stream maintains the water temperatures in winter. The Islands have a temperate climate range, varying from 80-90°F, with high humidity in summer and cooler temperatures of 70-80°F in the winter. Night temperatures can decline up to 5-7°, while winter temperatures on the northern islands are an average 5° lower than those on the southern islands.
 
The best time to visit the islands is between September and May, when you get to experience the most refreshing, moderate temperatures between 70-75°F. Water temperatures are always comfortable, at an average of 80°F throughout the year.
 
 Bahamas Location and Travel
 
Palm_Tree_Water_BahThe Bahamas is a chain of 700 islands and 2,500 small cays that are strung across its spectacular sea like many jewels. Beginning from about 40 miles east of Florida, the archipelago stretches in a southeasterly direction for nearly 500 miles. Though often categorized as a Caribbean island, the Bahamas is actually located in the Atlantic Ocean and not the Caribbean Sea. It lies east of Florida USA, north from Cuba and the Caribbean and northwest from the British Dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
 
For authentic Bahamian hospitality, look for the Bahamahost sticker on local taxicabs and jitneys. The Bahamahost program was introduced in 1978, by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism to train Bahamians in the hospitality industry. It is managed by the National Bahamahost Association and promotes a standard of professionalism and education to ensure that tourist visitors and Bahamas real estate purchasers receive a proper welcome.
 
The dress code in the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas is fairly relaxed. Casual summer wear during the day is fine at any time of the year. It is advisable to carry along a jacket or sweater for the much cooler evenings, especially between December and February. Most hotels, restaurants and casinos make jackets mandatory in the evening, especially in more cosmopolitan areas like Nassau, Freeport and Lucaya. Beach clothing is considered inappropriate on the streets, in churches, restaurants and casinos. In the more remote areas, the dress code is much more flexible.
 
British driving rules apply here; driving in the Bahamas is on the left hand side of the road. Visitors can either use their UK licenses for up to three months or may apply for international driving licenses. The minimum age in the Bahamas for driving a hired car is 25 years.

Bahamas Culture & History
Taino Indians from Hispaniola and Cuba settled in the southern Bahamas in the 7th century AD and were then known as the Lucayans. Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World on San Salvador, an island in the south Bahamas. The Bahamian islands remained almost unoccupied until the English settlers arrived in 1647 from the Caribbean Island of Bermuda. The Bahamas was subsequently made a British crown colony in 1718.

island view surrounded by caribbean seaThe Emancipation Act of the United Kingdom in 1834 ended slavery in the Bahamas islands, causing fugitive slaves from the U.S.A to cross the Atlantic to try to reach the island. During this time period, immigration to the Bahamas increased with arrivals from New York, Florida and the Carolinas. The islands became internally self-governed in 1964 and by 1973 the Bahamas became an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations.   The population of the Bahamas has mixed ancestry. A significant proportion of the black population are descendents of the Haitians while caucasian Bahamians have descended largely from the loyalists of the southern United States. Irish, Canadian, British and Greek ancestry are also significant contributors to the demographic.   The official language is English with the other principal language being Haitian Creole. The Bahamian culture is a hybrid of its African and European influences, the most famous expression of which is its rhythmic form of music called junkanoo. Other indigenous forms of music are rake and scrape, calypso and their unique hymnal forms. Marching bands are an important ingredient of Bahamian life and play at funerals, weddings and ceremonial events.   Crafts in the less developed outer islands include palm frond basketry, along with hat and bag making that are popular with tourists. Regattas are important social events, featuring one or more days of sailing old-fashioned workboats accompanied by an onshore festival

Facts & Maps:

  • Government Monarch HM Queen Elizabeth IIbeach view
  • Governor General Arthur Dion Hanna Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham 
  • Parliamentary Democracy Constitutional Monarchy
  • Independence from the United Kingdom
  • Self Governing 1964 Full Independence July 10, 1973  
  • Area 13,878 km² 5,358 sq mi  Water 28%
  • Population 2003 Estimate: 323,000 (177th)
  • Density 23.27 /km² (181st) 60 /sq mi 
  • GDP (PPP) 2005 Estimate Total: $6.524 billion (145th)   Per Capita $17,843 (38th)  
  • Currency Dollar (BSD) 
  • Time Zone EST (UTC-5) Summer DST EDT (UTC -4) 
  • Internet TLD .bs
  • Calling Code 1-242