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Bahamas Country Profile
An archipelago of 700 islands and islets, the Bahamas attracts millions of tourists each year.
The visitors come to enjoy its mild climate, fine beaches and beautiful forests.
A former British colony and now a Commonwealth member, the country is a major centre for offshore finance and has one of the world's largest open-registry shipping fleets.
The huge growth in the services sector of the economy has prompted people to leave fishing and farming villages for the commercial centres in New Providence Island, Grand Bahama and Great Abaco.
This trend has compounded the islands' dependence on tourism and banking.
As with other Caribbean countries, The Bahamas faces the challenge of tackling drugs trafficking and illegal immigration. It has taken steps to clean-up its offshore banking system.
The Bahamas is a destination for migrants from its strife-torn Caribbean neighbour, Haiti. Tens of thousands of Haitians are thought to be living illegally in the country.
Bahamian culture is expressed most colourfully in "Junkanoo" street celebrations, which feature rhythmic music, dance and elaborate costumes and masks.
Full name: Commonwealth of the Bahamas
Population: 345,700 (UN, 2010)
Capital and largest city: Nassau
Area: 13,939 sq km (5,382 sq miles)
Major language: English
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 72 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Bahamian dollar = 100 cents
Main exports: Pharmaceuticals, cement, rum, crawfish, refined petroleum products
GNI per capita: US$21,390 (World Bank, 2010)
Internet domain: .bs
International dialling code: +1242
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor
Prime minister: Hubert Ingraham
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