In addition to the islands, about 20 of which are inhabited, there are about 2,400 smaller reefs or inserts. Most of the islands are only a few meters high, and the largest, Andros, reaches 22 meters above sea level. On several of them, there are rows of sand hills along the northeast side, created by wave transport and pass winds, which brought the sand higher up. Particularly extensive are such cemented cushions on Long Island and Eleuthera. The highest point, 63 m above sea level, is found on Cat Island.
According to COUNTRYAAH, most famous is the Bahamas for its pleasant subtropical climate. The average temperature during the colder season is 21 °C, during the summer 27 °C. The rainfall averages 1,400 mm per year, but the high evaporation gives a dry environment in parts of the island world. Persistent winds have a cooling effect, while tropical hurricanes often cause great havoc.
Extensive forests of Caribbean pine are spreading on the larger islands in the northwest. Otherwise, the vegetation consists mostly of shrubs and low trees. Wildlife is dominated by frogs, lizards and snakes. In the caves there are bats, and among larger animals there is a species of aguties and a species of raccoons. All these animal species have been greatly reduced in number. In the sea around the islands there are plenty of fish and other edible animals.
The Bahamas’ twelve national parks are designated primarily to protect nesting sites for the island’s national bird flamingo and to preserve marine environments, including. coral reef.
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The Bahamas are an archipelago of 700 islands in the Caribbean Sea, independent of the United Kingdom since 1973. The institutional architecture includes an upper and lower house and a cabinet of at least eight ministers appointed by the premier. The office of head of state is held by Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor general who takes her place (currently Marguerite Pindling, widow of former premier Lynden Pindling).
At the time of independence, the political leadership of the country was in the hands of Lynden Pindling, leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) which still enjoys widespread support today, in a multi-party but de facto bipolar system. In the last elections of May 2012, the PLP won 29 seats out of 38 seats, while only the remaining 9 went to the Free National Movement (Fnm), led by Hubert Ingraham, the outgoing premier. The leader of the PLP, Perry Christie, former premier between 2002 and 2007, has returned to his post as prime minister. The Bahamas have achieved good economic relations with the USA, Canada and the European Union, through the signing of the partnership agreementcommercial, the Treatment of tariffs for the Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth and the Cotonou Agreement. The country is not part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and, at the regional level, does not participate in common commercial activities, despite being a member of the Caribbean Community which includes 13 countries of the Caribbean Commonwealth.
The Bahamas are facing an important flow of illegal immigration from Haiti and, to a lesser extent, from Cuba, so much so that its control is a pressing priority on the government agenda. According to the International Organization for Migration, the island is home to 20,000 to 50,000 Haitian illegal immigrants, between 5 and 14% of the total population of the Bahamas. The high percentage justifies the concerns of the government, which recently asked for US support to solve the problem of illegal landings and has begun the forced repatriation of irregular immigrants.
Another long-standing problem in the country is the international drug trafficking. It is estimated that 20 tons of cocaine pass through the corridor between Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas every year. Compared to the 1980s, however, the amount of marijuana and cocaine traded in the region has significantly decreased, thanks also to the international agreements for the strategic control of drug trafficking signed between the Defense Force of the Bahamas and the US Coast Guard, and between the services of local security and the British authorities of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Among the Caribbean countries, the Bahamian economy is the most prosperous. The economic driving force is constituted by financial services – internal and off-shore – and by tourism, which alone produces about one third of the GDP. If the government manages to defeat the problems linked to organized crime and local drug trafficking, improving the security conditions for foreigners (80% of whom come from the US), the revenues from tourism could further increase. The unemployment rate, which has grown significantly in recent years to reach 15.5% in 2014, remains a problem for growth.