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OFFICIAL NAME: Commonwealth of the Bahamas
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional parliamentary democracy
CAPITAL: Nassau    
MONEY: Bahamian dollar
AREA: 5,382 square miles (13,939 square kilometers)


Bahamian Flag

Kheng Guan Toh, Dreamstime



People in colorful costumes dance through the streets of Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas) to the sounds of horns, drums, and whistles. It’s December 26 and towns across the island nation are holding Junkanoo festivals. This celebration, which may have started as early as the 16th century, honors the country’s history with traditional music and dancing. It’s a time to have fun, Bahamas style.



Located in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas consists of 700 islands. Only about 30 of them are inhabited by people. New Providence—one of the largest islands and the location of the capital—is home to 70 percent of the country’s population.


Humans have lived on the islands of the Bahamas since around the fourth century. In the 1600s the area drew pirates such as Blackbeard and Calico Jack. These bold buccaneers looted cargo ships sailing along trading routes that circled the islands. The territory came under British rule in 1718 and would remain that way until 1973 when the Bahamas gained its independence. Today the spot is a popular destination for tourists—over five million people visit each year to check out the country’s wildlife and culture.




Turtles, parrots, iguanas, and the world’s largest colony of pink flamingos all thrive in the warm climate of the Bahamas. (The temperature here rarely drops below 60˚F!) The warm waters surrounding the islands boast colorful fish such as blue tang and stoplight parrotfish. And Andros Island features the 140-mile-long Andros Barrier Reef—one of the longest coral reefs in the world. No wonder this tropical country is such a hot spot!  


By Angela Modany, NGS Staff


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