13,939 sq km (5,382 sq miles).
23.1 per sq km.
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Dame Marguerite Pindling since 2014.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Perry Christie since 2012.
120 volts AC, 60Hz. North American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without a round grounding pin) are standard.
The quiet coves and crowd-free beaches of the Bahamas offer visitors the intimacy of a secluded retreat within a paradisiacal expanse of some 700 palm-fringed isles.
Christened baja mar (meaning ‘shallow sea’) by Christopher Columbus, these islands, with their astonishing hues of sand and sea spanning the colour spectrum from twinkling turquoise to rose pink, are the personification of paradise.
Crystalline waters secrete ancient shipwrecks and a rainbow of coral reefs, while pastel-coloured seashells and vibrant clapboard houses perch atop a tropical landscape that resonates with exotic birdsong.
There’s the over-riding feeling that the Bahamas has got tourism just right: a range of resorts cater for holidaymakers, including a growing range of eco-hotels, yet their impact on the islands’ natural beauty remains, by in large, minimal.
The full gauntlet of watersports beckon for the active holidaymaker: from scuba diving and snorkelling to parasailing and sailing, there’s more than enough to get the pulse racing here. Then there are the glitzy golf courses, designed by the game’s best, whose vistas are enough to compensate for a bad day on the fairways.
Pack your hiking shoes and explore the clutch of nature reserves that are scattered across the archipelago. Pack your binoculars too and look out for the myriad of bird species that call the Bahamas home: from bright pink flamingos to multicolored parrots, you can’t miss some of the more flamboyant species.
Come sundown, Bahamian bars and clubs pulsate with island rhythms; discover riotous dance festivals that mix African slave-trade rituals with Bahamian tempo and American hip-hop twists, or head to one of the archipelago’s bustling straw markets to haggle over spices, and ceramics.
If it all gets too much, recharge your batteries at one of the wonderful seafood restaurants or with an infamous rum cocktail. Whatever you do, the vividness of the Bahamas never ceases to assault your senses.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the British High Commission has increased. There are police patrols in the main tourist areas.
Be vigilant at all times and don’t walk alone away from the main hotels, tourist areas, beaches and downtown Nassau, particularly after dark. Take care if travelling on local bus services after dusk on routes away from the main tourist areas. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Robbers may be armed. Don’t resist in the event of an attempted robbery. If you need the police in an emergency, call 911 or 919.
The outlying islands of the Bahamas (known as the Family or Out Islands) have lower crime rates.
Excursions and activities
Before booking any excursion or activity make sure that health and safety precautions are evident and that the operator has adequate insurance cover.
The water sports industry in The Bahamas is poorly regulated. Every year people are killed or seriously injured using jet skis and other watercraft carelessly, or by the reckless behaviour of others. Do not rent jet-skis or other water sports equipment unless you are an experienced user.
You can drive in The Bahamas on a UK licence or an International Driving Permit. Although traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road most vehicles are imported from the United States and are left hand drive.
There is no British High Commission in the Bahamas. Please address queries to the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica. In the event of a genuine consular emergency in The Bahamas, telephone +1 242 225 6033 or +1 876 936 0700. This number should not be used for passport or visa queries.