The Bahamas is the richest country in the West Indies and the third wealthiest country in the Americas. It is a stable, developing nation in the Lucayan archipelago with a population of 391,232 (2016) and an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences had led to solid GDP growth for many years, but the slowdown in the US economy and the attacks of September 11, 2001 held back growth in these sectors in 2001-03. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP. However, since December 2000, when the government enacted new regulations on the financial sector, many international businesses have left the Bahamas. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately 10% of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives for those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors. In addition to tourism and banking, the government supports the development of a "2nd-pillar", e-commerce.
|Economy of Bahamas|
|Currency||Bahamian dollar (BSD)|
|1 July - 30 June|
|GDP||$11.04 billion (2012 est. PPP)|
|GDP rank||140th (nominal) / 153rd (PPP)|
|2.5% (2012 est.)|
GDP per capita
|$31,300 (2012 est.)|
GDP by sector
|agriculture: 2.1%, industry: 7.1%, services: 90.8% (2012 est.)|
Population below poverty line
Labour force by occupation
|agriculture 5%, industry 5%, tourism 50%, other services 40% (2005 est.)|
|Unemployment||14.2% (2009 est.)|
|tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe|
|Exports||$1.316 billion (2017 est.)|
|mineral products and salt, animal products, rum, chemicals, fruit and vegetables|
Main export partners
| United States 41% |
Other 25% (2017 est.)
|Imports||$9.097 billion (2017 est.)|
|machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals|
Main import partners
| United States 29.9% |
South Korea 6.7%
Canada 4.2% (2013 est.)
|$342.6 million (2004 est.)|
|Revenues||$1.5 billion (2012)|
|Expenses||$1.8 billion (2012)|
|Economic aid||recipient: $5 million (2004)|
A- (T&C Assessment)
(Standard & Poor's)
The Bahamian economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism and financial services to generate foreign exchange earnings. The European Union lists the Bahamas as one of several Caribbean "uncooperative jurisdictions" because it fails to meet tax fairness and transparency benchmarks.
Tourism alone provides an estimated 51% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about half the Bahamian workforce. In 2016, over 3 million tourists visited the Bahamas, most of whom are from the United States and Canada. .
A major contribution to the recent growth in the overall Bahamian economy is Kerzner International's Atlantis Resort and Casino, which took over the former Paradise Island Resort and has provided a much needed boost to the economy. In addition, the opening of Breezes Super Club and Sandals Resort also aided this turnaround. The Bahamian Government also has adopted a proactive approach to courting foreign investors and has conducted major investment missions to the Far East, Europe, Latin America, and Canada. The primary purpose of the trips was to restore the reputation of The Bahamas in these markets.
Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for up to 17% of GDP, due to the country's status as an offshore financial center. As of December 1998, 418 banks and trust companies have been licensed in the Bahamas. The Bahamas promulgated the International Business Companies (IBC) Act in January 1990 to enhance the country's status as a leading financial center. The Act simplified and reduced the cost of incorporating offshore companies in the Bahamas. Within 9 years, more than 100,000 IBC-type companies had been established. In February 1991, the government also legalized the establishment of Asset Protection Trusts in the Bahamas. In December 2000, partly as a response to appearing the plenary FATF Blacklist, the government enacted a legislative package to better regulate the financial sector, including creation of a Financial Intelligence Unit and enforcement of "know-your-customer" rules. Other initiatives include the enactment of the Foundations Act in 2004 and the planned introduction of legislation to regulate Private Trust Companies.
Agriculture and fisheries industry together account for 5% of GDP. The Bahamas exports lobster and some fish but does not raise these items commercially. There is no large scale agriculture, and most agricultural products are consumed domestically. The Bahamas imports more than $250 million in foodstuffs per year, representing about 80% of its food consumption. The government aims to expand food production to reduce imports and generate foreign exchange. It actively seeks foreign investment aimed at increasing agricultural exports, particularly specialty food items. The government officially lists beef and pork production and processing, fruits and nuts, dairy production, winter vegetables, and mariculture (shrimp farming) as the areas in which it wishes to encourage foreign investment.
The Bahamian Government maintains the value of the Bahamian dollar on a par with the U.S. dollar. The Bahamas is a beneficiary of the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), Canada's CARIBCAN program, and the European Union's Lome IV Agreement. Although the Bahamas participates in the political aspects of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), it has not entered into joint economic initiatives with other Caribbean states.
The Bahamas has a few notable industrial firms: the Freeport pharmaceutical firm, PharmaChem Technologies (GrandBahama) Ltd. (formerly Syntex); the BORCO oil facility, also in Freeport, which transships oil in the region; the Commonwealth Brewery in Nassau, which produces Heineken, Guinness, and Kalik beers; and Bacardi Corp., which distills rum in Nassau for shipment to the U.S. and European markets. Other industries include sun-dried sea salt in Great Inagua, a wet dock facility in Freeport for repair of cruise ships, and mining of aragonite — a type of limestone with several industrial uses — from the sea floor at Ocean Cay. Other smaller but more nimble players in the banking industry include Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) Ltd. (FBB) and Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank & Trust Limited (RFMBT). FBB offers a wide range of innovative banking products including loan products with built-in savings plans. RFMBT is the only merchant bank in the Bahamas and is a joint venture with Royal Bank of Canada. It provides investment products and services and attracts the majority of the corporate business deals in the Bahamas, most recently acting as financial advisor and placement agent for the largest initial public offering (IPO) ever in the Bahamas with the IPO of Commonwealth Brewery, a Heineken subsidiary.
The Hawksbill Creek Agreement established a duty-free zone in Freeport, The Bahamas' second-largest city, with a nearby industrial park to encourage foreign industrial investment. The Hong Kong-based firm, Hutchison Whampoa, has opened a container port in Freeport. The Bahamian Parliament approved legislation in 1993 that extended most Freeport tax and duty exemptions through 2054.
The Bahamas has no income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, or wealth tax. Payroll taxes fund social insurance benefits and amount to 3.9% paid by the employee and 5.9% paid by the employer. In 2010, overall tax revenue was 17.2% of GDP. A value-added tax (VAT) of 7.5% has been levied 1 January 2015. It then increased from 7.5% to 12% effective from 1 July 2018.
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017.
|GDP in $
|2.51 Bln.||3.81 Bln.||4.99 Bln.||5.61 Bln.||7.79 Bln.||9.50 Bln.||10.03 Bln.||10.45 Bln.||10.41 Bln.||10.05 Bln.||10.33 Bln.||10.61 Bln.||11.14 Bln.||11.25 Bln.||11.31 Bln.||11.09 Bln.||11.25 Bln.||11.60 Bln.|
|GDP per capita in $
|7.1 %||4.1 %||1.1 %||4.4 %||5.0 %||3.4 %||2.5 %||1.4 %||−2.3 %||−4.2 %||1.5 %||0.6 %||3.1 %||−0.6 %||−1.2 %||−3.1 %||0.2 %||1.3 %|
|12.2 %||4.6 %||4.6 %||2.0 %||1.7 %||1.8 %||2.0 %||2.4 %||4.4 %||1.7 %||1.6 %||3.1 %||1.9 %||0.4 %||1.2 %||1.9 %||−0.3 %||1.4 %|
|...||...||12.0 %||10.9 %||7.0 %||10.2 %||7.6 %||7.9 %||8.7 %||14.2 %||15.1 %||15.9 %||14.4 %||15.8 %||14.6 %||13.4 %||12.2 %||10.1 %|
(Percentage of GDP)
|...||...||13 %||21, %||19 %||23 %||23 %||23 %||25 %||30 %||34 %||35 %||38 %||44 %||48 %||51 %||53 %||57 %|
The Bahamas has the 47th freest economy in the world according to The Heritage Foundation 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. The Bahamas is ranked 7th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its overall score is higher than the regional and world averages. Total government spending, including consumption and transfer payments, is relatively low. In the most recent year, government spending was 23.4% of GDP.
Agriculture in the Bahamas is the third largest pillar of the Bahamian economy, representing between 5% and 7% of its total GDP.Bahamas Customs Service
Bahamas Customs Service (BCS) is the agency of the Bahamian government responsible for collecting revenue and taxes. It was established on March 21, 1914, by an act of the Bahamian Legislature known as an Act to provide for the establishment of a Customs Department. About 55% to 60% of revenue collected in the Bahamas is collected by the agency. Its headquarters is located at Customs House on Thompson Boulevard in Nassau, the capital. BCS is housed under the portfolio of the Bahamas Finance ministry. The current Comptroller of Customs is Mr Charles Turner.Bahamas Securities Exchange
The Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) is a securities exchange in the Bahamas. It was founded in 1999 and is located in Nassau.Bahamian cuisine
Bahamian Cuisine is to the foods and beverages of The Bahamas. It includes seafood such as fish, shellfish, lobster, crab, and conch, as well as tropical fruits, rice, peas, pigeon peas, potatoes, and pork. Popular seasonings commonly used in dishes include chilies (hot pepper), lime, tomatoes, onions, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, rum, and coconut. Rum-based beverages are popular on the island. Since the Bahamas consist of a multitude of islands, notable culinary variations exist.
Bahamian cuisines are somewhat related to the American South. A large portion of Bahamian foodstuffs are imported (cf. economy of the Bahamas). International cuisine is offered, especially at hotels.Many specialty dishes are available at roadside stands, beach side, and in fine dining establishments. In contrast to the offerings in the city of Nassau and in the many hotels, "shack" type food stands/restaurants (including Goldies and Twin Brothers) are located at Arawak Cay on West Bay Street about 15 minutes from downtown Nassau and 25 minutes from Atlantis Paradise Island resort.This is a very organized and safe place to enjoy fresh seafood and all local Bahamian dishes. Travellers Rest Restaurant, in Nassau, is known for serving authentic "local" foods.Bahamian cuisine is showcased at many large festivals, including Independence Day (Bahamas) on July 10 (during which inhabitants prepare special dishes like guava duff), Fox Hill Day (second Tuesday in August), and Emancipation Day. Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the Pineapple Fest in Gregory Town, Eleuthera.
Bahamian traditions and food have been exported to other countries with emigrants. Coconut Grove, Florida celebrates the Goombay Festival in June, transforming the area's Grand Avenue into a Carnival (Caribbean Carnival) in celebration of Bahamian culture, Bahamian food and music (Junkanoo and 'Rake'N'Scrape'). Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida includes a two-day street party known as Goombay held in Key West's Bahama Village neighborhood. It is named after the goombay goatskin drums that generate the party's rhythms and held in celebration of the heritage of Key West's large Bahamian population with food, art, and dancing.Bahamian dollar
The dollar (sign: $; code: BSD) has been the currency of The Bahamas since 1966. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively B$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents.Bahamian pound
The Pound was the currency of the Bahamas until 1966. It was equivalent to the pound sterling and was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. Ordinary UK coinage circulated. Apart from an old Bahamas penny coin struck in 1806, there were no special sterling coin issues such as were found in Jamaica.Banknotes of the Bank of Nassau (Bahamas)
Banknotes were prepared for, but not generally issued by the Bank of Nassau between the 1870s and 1906. The notes are actually quite rare remainder banknotes.
The currency expressed is the Bahamian pound.Central Bank of The Bahamas
The Central Bank of the Bahamas is the reserve bank of the Bahamas based in the capital Nassau.
The bank was established in 1974 but traces its origins to the currency board established in 1919. The bank carries out the independent monetary policy and supervision of the financial sector of the Bahamas.Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of The Bahamas, lying 84 kilometres (52 mi) off Palm Beach, Florida. It is the fourth largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays. The island is roughly 530 square miles (1,400 km2) in area and approximately 153 kilometres (95 mi) long west to east and 24 kilometres (15 mi) at its widest point north to south. Administratively, the island consists of the Freeport Bonded Area and the districts of East Grand Bahama and West Grand Bahama.Index of Bahamas-related articles
The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.Outline of the Bahamas
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Bahamas:
Commonwealth of the Bahamas – sovereign island nation comprising an archipelago of seven hundred islands and two thousand cays. The Bahamas are located in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida and the United States, north of Cuba, the island of Hispaniola and the Caribbean, and northwest of the British overseas territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands.Revenue stamps of the Bahamas
Very few revenue stamps of the Bahamas have been issued, as most of the time dual-purpose postage and revenue stamps were used for fiscal purposes. They were used as such from around the 1860s to at least the 1950s. A couple of revenue-only impressed duty stamps embossed in vermilion ink are known used in the 1950s. Similar stamps but with colourless embossing might also exist.A set of National Insurance stamps were issued in around the 1970s or 1980s. Only a single $7.95 stamp depicting the islands' national bird, the flamingo, has been recorded, but contributions were based on six wage groups so at least five other stamps were also issued. The National Insurance was established in the Bahamas on 7 October 1974, and the use of stamps to pay contributions ended in 1984–86.In September 2013, a taxpaid stamp was issued to pay the excise tax on tobacco in accordance with the Excise Stamp (Tobacco Products) Control Act (No. 27 of 2013). The stamp depicts a flamingo and a bar code, and it must be affixed to the packaging of tobacco products such as cigarettes.
Economy of the Americas