The islands of the Bahamas lie in the southwest Atlantic Ocean near Florida in the USA and stretching down to Cuba. They are known as the 700 islands although there are more than 4,000 islands, islets and cays. There are about fifteen main islands including Cat Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama and New Providence. A total of 40 islands are populated. Two-thirds of the Bahamas is made up of coral formations and hills. Around the islands is found approximately five per cent of the world's coral - coral reefs are important to the world's ecology because they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scrub and woodlands cover just under a third of the land. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is located on the island of New Providence, one of the smallest of the major islands at a total size of 80 square miles. The center of Nassau has some fine historic buildings and there are some good beaches, but most of the island is covered by sprawling suburbia, scrubby woodland or swamp. Paradise Island, just off the north coast of New Providence, is 826 acres in size. This all resort island, once known as Hog Island, was not developed until the 1950’s. The name was changed after a bridge was built to connect the island with Nassau and the first casino license was granted.
The official currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which is equivalent in value to the US dollar. US currency, including traveler’s checks, is accepted throughout the islands by shops, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Most shops and restaurants accept all major credit cards. You may want to notify your credit card company in advance to be sure you are set up to access your card outside of the country. ATM machines can be found in the casinos and at major banks in Nassau. Banks are open Monday through Thursday 9:30am to 3pm, and Friday from 9:30am to 5pm.
English is the official language.
All Americans traveling to the Bahamas from the United States are required to present a passport valid for at least 3 months after departure date of your trip. For more information visit Travel.State.Gov
The Islands of the Bahamas are on Eastern Standard Time and observe Daylight Savings Time.
Most taxis are large vans that can accommodate up to 12 people. The drivers typically do not use the meters so it is a good idea to negotiate the price of the trip before getting in. A full taxi costs an average of $5 per person, one-way. When returning to Paradise Island from Nassau, there is a $2 bridge toll which passengers are responsible for paying. For a convenient and inexpensive way to get around Nassau in the Bahamas, it’s hard to beat the local Jitney bus service. Jitneys cost a mere $1.25 each way, run frequently, and can take you all the way from one end of the island to the other.
The Bahamas Islands are blessed with a semi-tropical climate. Typical temperatures range between 70 and 80 degrees. While there are no guarantees regarding rain, rainfall is most unlikely from November through April.
Casual spring and summer weight clothing is the dress of the day, and night too, unless you decide otherwise. There are no restrictions other than a cover-up for swim wear when leaving the beach or pool areas.
No worries, your blow dryers and clothes irons will work without adapters.
Many places automatically add a 15% gratuity to all food and beverage charges; check your receipt. If you have been treated particularly well, your server will certainly appreciate something extra.
Roaming charges can be very expensive. Check with your cell provider before leaving on your vacation. Email or web app are the least expensive ways toad communicate back home. Wifi is readily available in local restaurants and hotels.
Keep all medication with you at all times. Do not put it in with your checked luggage and keep it in the prescription bottle.
Bay Street is the place to be for shopping! Imported perfumes, china, jewelry and crystal are all tax-free and can be purchased for as much as 40% below U.S. prices. Most stores are open from 9am to 5pm daily. The famous Straw Market is also located on Bay Street. This is the perfect place to pick up authentic souvenirs such as baskets, handbags, hats, mats, dolls and wood carvings.
The Bahamas became independent, within the Commonwealth, in July 1973. The new Constitution provided for a Governor General to represent the British monarch who is head of state, a nominated 16-member Senate and an elected 49-member, now 40-member House of Assembly, with a parliamentary life of a maximum of five years. The Free National Movement (FNM) holds 35 seats while the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) holds four. A new party, the Coalition for Democratic Reform, has one seat, held by a former PLP member who resigned from the party in 1999. Sir Orville Turnquest, former Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs, was appointed Governor General at the end of 1994.
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