The Bahamas is an island country located in the Atlantic Ocean. The population totals at just over 400,000 people. The total GDP stands at $11.6 billion, and the country has a market economy. The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americans today and their economy is finance and tourism based. These top 10 facts about living conditions in the Bahamas presented below will illustrate the way of life on the islands.
Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Bahamas
- The capital of Nassau is home to almost 70 percent of the total population. Second and third largest cities are Lucaya and Freeport. More than 300,000 people live in these three cities. The majority of the economy is located here, and like any major cities, they contain elite suburbs and impoverished slums.
- The majority of revenue coming into this tropical country is through tourism as 60 percent of total GDP comes from this industry. In 2007, tourism provided over two million jobs to Bahamian citizens. Just under 50 percent of the working population is directly employed in tourism and another 20 percent are employed indirectly.
- The U.S. provides the country with the majority of its tourism and international trade. Economic state in the Bahamas relies heavily on the economic state of the neighboring country. The financial crisis of 2008 negatively affected the country. The GDP decreased by 2.3 percent.
- The cost of living in the Bahamas is 31.75 percent higher than the cost of living in the U.S. This includes the prices of groceries, rent and restaurants. When comparing the gross national income (GNI) per capita of less than $22,000 with the one of the U.S. at $58,207, the poverty level seems much more extreme. The U.S. is encouraging the Bahamas to diversify its market, specifically with agricultural exports to increase their GNI.
- The national poverty rate of the Bahamas sits at a little more than 9 percent. The highest rate is around 20 percent in the Other Family Islands, home to 6 percent of the population. The Other Family Islands sit well outside the reach of jobs created by tourism, hospitals and education while the main islands of Nassau and Lucaya, Freeport contain a plethora of resources.
- Education has seen considerable growth in the Bahamas in the past 60 years. Almost $5 billion was invested to implement computer labs in public schools and teachers were provided with extensive training in technology. Education is compulsory from the ages of 5 to 16. The government allocates 20 percent of the budget to the public school system. The gross enrollment rate for primary school was over 95 percent in 2016 and the gross enrollment rate of secondary school was a little over 90 percent. These positive changes have contributed to the country’s 96 percent literacy rate.
- The infant mortality rate has decreased from over 11 deaths per 1,000 births in 2007 to just over five deaths per 1,000 births in 2017. The government has established the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative to reduce deaths due to lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer. Even though health care is improving, there is still work to be done in the prevention of spreadable diseases. In 2013, close to 500 individuals died from AIDS. This unfortunate number demonstrates the high infection rate of HIV/AIDS within the country. Since 2013, the government has increased education as well as immunization for adults to reduce the spread of diseases such as hepatitis B, yellow fever and influenza. All children enrolled in school are required to be vaccinated and these vaccinations start after the first 28 days of life. They include hepatitis B, meningitis, polio and influenza.
- Natural disasters contribute heavily to economic hardship and living conditions in the Bahamas due to poor infrastructure. The Bahamas sustained $3 billion worth of storm damage from the years 1950 to 2014. Hurricane Frances that wreaked havoc on the Grand Bahamas island in 2004 caused a 14 percent drop in the country’s GDP. The last hurricane to hit the island country was hurricane Irma that tore through the Caribbean killing 24 people in 2017. It was reported that Irma matched the financial blow of hurricane Matthew that cost the country $600 million in damages.
- Most endangered categories are children, single mothers, the elderly and the homeless. The Great Commissions Ministry is working to address the homeless and hunger within the Bahamas. They offer services such as daily food packages, job assistance, housing assistance, a drug abuse program and emergency housing for those who lack the basic necessities needed to survive. Hand for Hunger is also working hard to end hunger in the Bahamas by striving towards their goal of making sure every individual in the Bahamas has three nutritious meal every day. They do this by collecting donated food that would initially go to waste from grocery stores and restaurants and putting in front of those who need it most.
- There is little to no fresh water resources in the Bahamas since there are no freshwater rivers or streams available. The primary source of drinking water comes from groundwater which must be desalinated. The Carribean Development Bank and Government of the Commonwealth have launched a project to improve the water supply. The project aims to improve the infrastructure of potable water to 3,400 households.
These top 10 facts about living conditions in the Bahamas show the development of this island nation that has become one of the richest countries in the Americans, mainly due to its location and tourism. They also indicate fields where improvement is needed, such as prevention of spreadable diseases and freshwater resources.
– Natasha Eckelbarger