The Bahamas is a country located within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bahamas is well-known for being one of the world’s top draws for both sun-seeking vacationers and adventurous explorers. The country is blessed with beautiful white sandy beaches, copious sunshine, gorgeous turquoise seas, and provides ample opportunities for boating, snorkeling, and fishing. Here are some interesting facts about The Bahamas.
Facts about The Bahamas
1. The nation of The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands.
The Bahamas is an archipelagic state and consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets spread out over some 800 kilometers (500 mi), straddling the Tropic of Cancer. Only 30 of the islands are inhabited, with the biggest ones being New Providence (with the capital Nassau), Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Rum Cay, and Long Island.
2. It is not clear how the country’s name came to be The Bahamas.
There are several theories surrounding the etymology of the name The Bahamas. Some speculate it stems from the now-extinct Taíno language, in which “ba ha ma” meant “big upper middle land”. It may also come from Spanish, in which “baja mar” means “shallow water or sea” or “low tide”.
3. The highest point in The Bahamas only reaches 64 m (210 ft).
Located on Cat Island, the tallest peak in The Bahamas, Mount Alvernia, only reaches a height of 64 m (210 ft).
4. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of The Bahamas.
The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations which means that its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. The head of the government, however, is the country’s prime minister.
5. The flag of The Bahamas is very recognizable.
Adopted in 1973, the flag of The Bahamas as we know it today is perhaps one of the most recognizable flags in the world. It consists of a black triangle and 3 bands. The gold band represents the sunshine, while the aquamarine bands represent the country’s crystal clear waters. The black triangle alludes to the strength and vigor of the Bahamian people.
6. The Yellow Elder is the national flower of The Bahamas.
Endemic to the islands, the Yellow Elder has been named as the national flower of The Bahamas. The ornamental plant is also known as Yellow trumpetbush.
7. The national bird of The Bahamas is the flamingo.
More than 50,000 specimens of flamingos call The Bahamas their home, more precisely Inagua Island.
8. The national fish of The Bahamas is the blue marlin.
One of the biggest fish in the world, the blue marlin, is the national fish of The Bahamas. It features notably in the novel “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, a frequent visitor to The Bahamas.
9. The tree of life is the national tree of The Bahamas.
Lignum vitae, otherwise known as the tree of life, is the national tree of The Bahamas. It derives its name primarily from its medicinal uses. It is also the hardest traded wood and is used for items such as cricket bails.
10. The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas.
Ranked by GDP per capita, the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas and considered the richest countries in the Caribbean community. With a GDP per capita of about 30,000 USD, it ranks second only to the USA in the Americas.
11. The Bahamas is a tax haven.
An important contributor to the GDP of The Bahamas is its financial sector. Indeed, The Bahamas is the jurisdiction with the most offshore entities or companies in the world. The country is commonly described as a tax haven as there is no income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, or wealth tax.
12. Afro-Bahamians are the largest ethnic group in The Bahamas.
About 91% of the population of The Bahamas identifies as black. Those who identify as white are mostly descendants of English Puritans and American Loyalists. Interestingly, there is also a small community of Greek Bahamians.
13. The main religion in The Bahamas is Christianity.
About 96% of Bahamians identify as Christian. Obeah is also practiced in the country although it is technically illegal.
14. The Bahamas celebrates Boxing Day with Junkanoo.
Junkanoo can best be described as a type of Bahamian carnival, traditionally taking place on Boxing Day, 26 December, and New Year’s Day. It features a street parade paired with music, dance, and costumes. It pays homage to the former slaves of the region. The biggest parade takes place on Bay Street in Nassau.
15. Cricket is the national sport of The Bahamas.
Cricket has been played in The Bahamas since 1846, making it the oldest sport being played in the country today. Unlike most other Caribbean nations, Bahamians play in the Bahamian national team, not the West Indies team.
16. The closest neighbor of The Bahamas is Cuba.
As an island nation, The Bahamas does not share land borders with any countries. The closest neighbor, Cuba, lies at a distance of about 500 km from Nassau.
17. The currency of The Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar (BSD).
The Bahamian dollar has been the currency of The Bahamas since 1966 when it replaced the pound. It is pegged to the US dollar at par (which means one BSD equals one USD), making it one of the strongest currencies in the Americas.
18. The Bahamas is the first country with a legal digital currency.
In 2020, The Bahamas officially introduces the so-called Sand Dollar which is a digital version of the Bahamian Dollar. It has the same value as Bahamian fiat but aims to advance access to financial services for all residents of The Bahamas. Locals can easily manage it through their mobile phones.
19. The Bahamas has no UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Despite its rich history, The Bahamas has no officially recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two items, however, are on the tentative list: the Historic Lighthouses of The Bahamas and Inagua National Park.
20. The Bahamas is home to Pink Sands Beach.
The Bahamas is home to one of the world’s popular pink beaches, namely Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island. Its color stems from the crushed shells of microscopic coral insects, known as Foraminifera.
21. The world’s second deepest blue hole is found in The Bahamas.
A blue hole is a type of marine sinkhole and is characterized by its deep blue color in comparison to the lighter color of surrounding shallow waters. The second-deepest blue hole in the world, Dean’s Blue Hole, can be found in The Bahamas, off the shores of Long Island. It is 202 m (663 ft) deep.
22. The Bahamas is one of only 2 countries with “The” in their official name.
The name of the country is commonly misspelled. The country’s constitution capitalizes the “T” in “The Bahamas” which means that this is the only correct way of writing. The only other country in the world that should be referred to with “The” in its name is The Gambia.
23. There are swimming pigs in The Bahamas.
If The Bahamas is known for one thing among tourists, it’s probably its famous pig beach in the Exumas. About 20 pigs live on the otherwise uninhabited Big Major Cay island. How the pigs ended up there is unclear, but they sure seem to have made themselves comfortable. A visit to Pig Beach is a popular day excursion among visitors.
24. Conch is the national food of The Bahamas.
As an island nation, it cannot be surprising that one of the country’s most popular foods is seafood. Conch, a type of sea snail, is the national food of The Bahamas. It can be prepared in several different ways and popular dishes include conch salad, conch fritters, cracked conch, and cracked conch sandwiches.
25. Bahamians marry very late.
According to a 1996 census, 86% of grooms and 74% of brides in The Bahamas were over the age of 30 at their time of marriage.
26. Iguana Island is part of The Bahamas.
Have you ever wanted to see a dragon? Bitter Guana Cay in the Bahamas, also known as Iguana Island, is probably one of the best places in the world to do so. The island is home to an endangered species of Bahamian Rock Iguanas which is known for its distinctive thick-ringed tail. About 5,000 specimens live on the island today.
27. In The Bahamas, there once was a Republic of Pirates.
Piracy in the Caribbean was fairly common from 1500 onwards. In 1706, the Republic of Pirates was founded in Nassau and served as a stronghold for pirates for about a decade. The “republic” was run according to pirate code until the British could reinstate power in 1718.
28. James Bond is a frequent visitor to The Bahamas.
The Bahamas is a popular destination for moviemakers, especially in the James Bond franchise. Among the most famous movies set at least partially in The Bahamas are Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), and Casino Royale (2006).
29. It once snowed in The Bahamas.
Although The Bahamas is most commonly thought of as a tropical paradise, it did actually see snow once! In 1977 a strong cold front ravaged the US-state of Florida. It was so harsh, snow flurries were even reported off its shores on Grand Bahama, making it the one and only time it actually snowed in The Bahamas.
30. The Bahamas is technically not in the Caribbean.
Geographically, The Bahamas lies in the south Atlantic, not the Caribbean. For all intents and purposes, however, The Bahamas is treated like a Caribbean nation.
31. The Bahamas is home to the world’s third-largest wine cellar.
With a collection of more than 250,000 bottles of wine, Graycliff Hotel in Nassau is the third-biggest wine cellar in the world. The cellar holds more than 20 million USD worth of wine.
32. The Bahamas features one of the largest coral reefs in the Caribbean.
Coral reefs cover 1,987 km² (767 sq mi) of the Great Bahama Bank and 324 km² (125 sq mi) of the Little Bahama Bank, making it one of the biggest coral reefs in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the corals have suffered drastically in the last decades due to human factors. Today, The Bahamas is working hard on restoring its original size and strength.
33. The Bahamas has its very own Loch Ness monster.
You may have heard of Scotland’s Loch ness monster, but did you know that the Caribbean has its very own version? According to Bahamian folklore, a monster called Lusca lives off the country’s shores. It is rumored to be a kind of giant squid. Most supposed sightings take place off Andros island, close to the blue holes.
34. The Bahamas has its own cocktail.
This is perhaps not a surprising fact about The Bahamas, but the cocktail Bahama Mama was indeed invented here. Variations of the drink had most likely been around for a while when Bahamian bartender Oswald “Slade” Greenslade claimed the invention of the most common recipe. The drink itself is as tropical as its origin, consisting of rum, coffee liqueur, crème de coconut, lemon juice, and pineapple juice.
35. Artificial sponges were first grown in The Bahamas.
While The Bahamas has long relied on tourism, sponge production was particularly important during the winter months up until the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, disease and unsustainable harvesting practices affected the local sponge population and consequently its related industry strongly.
In 1927, H. C. Christie registered a patent to grow “artificial” sponges. His technique allowed the growth of dozens of sponges from a single one by cutting the sponge into pieces and attaching them to a simple disc. The sponges were, in fact, still natural, but because they were now growing on a man-made medium, they had to be considered artificial.
36. The first European to land in The Bahamas was Christopher Columbus.
Christopher Columbus wasn’t only the first European to discover the islands, he also made them his first landfall in the “New World” in 1492.