Useful country information
Land area: 3,888 sq mi (10,070 sq km); total area: 5,382 sq mi 13,940 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 321,834 (growth rate: 0.87%); birth rate: 15.65/1000; infant mortality rate: 12.5/1000; life expectancy: 71.93
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Nassau, 254,000
Monetary unit: Bahamian dollar
Languages: English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
Ethnicity/race: black 90.6%, white 4.7%, black and white 2.1%, other 1.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2010 est.)
Religions: Protestant 69.9% (includes Baptist 34.9%, Anglican 13.7%, Pentecostal 8.9% Seventh Day Adventist 4.4%, Methodist 3.6%, Church of God 1.9%, Brethren 1.6%), Roman Catholic 12%, other Christian 13% (includes Jehovah's Witness 1.1%), other 0.6%, none 1.9%, unspecified 2.6% (2010 est.)
National Holiday: Independence Day, July 10
Literacy rate: 95.6% (2011 est.)
The Bahamas stretches for 760 miles from the coast of Florida in the northwest to almost Haiti in the southeast. The archipelago consists of about 2,400 Cays (coral reefs) and 700 islands, 30 of which are inhabited.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 on the island of San Salvador, the Caribbean islands were inhabited by Lucayans, a subgroup of Arawak Indians. Slavery, disease, and other hardships wiped out the entire tribe within 25 years of Columbus' arrival.
A British settlement in The Bahamas was established in 1647 by a group of English Puritans, known as the Company of Eleutheran Adventurers.
They took over an island the Arawaks called Cigatoo and named it Eleuthera, the Greek word for freedom.
In 1717 and again in 1783, the islands became a British colony.
The real Pirates of the Caribbean. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, piracy flourished in the islands because of their proximity to important shipping lanes. The pirates, based at Nassau, attacked French and Spanish ships, while the French and Spanish forces burned Nassau several more times.
Today The Bahamas has become one of the world's foremost vacation resorts. Nassau is the political capital and the commercial hub of The Bahamas.
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