377,000 (2013); 67 per cent lives in New Providence, 83 per cent in urban areas; growth 1.7 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 15 per 1,000 people (31 in 1970); life expectancy 75 years (66 in 1970).
Bahamians are largely of African (85 per cent), Afro-European and European origin, as the indigenous Arawaks were wiped out.
English is the official and first language; a French-based Creole is spoken by Haitian immigrants
Mainly Christians (Baptists 35 per cent, Anglicans 14 per cent, Roman Catholics 12 per cent, Pentecostals nine per cent, Methodists four per cent, Church of God two per cent, 2010 census).
Public spending on health was three per cent of GDP in 2012. New Providence has the Princess Margaret Hospital, Sandilands psychiatric hospital and rehabilitation unit, as well as a geriatric hospital, a private hospital with an emergency facility, and a private clinic which undertakes plastic surgery. Grand Bahama has a general hospital and the Out Islands cottage hospitals. In addition there are medical centres and clinics, and a flying doctor and dentist service covers the islands. Some 98 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source (2012). Infant mortality was ten per 1,000 live births in 2013 (51 in 1960). In 2013, 3.2 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.
There are 12 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises six years and secondary six. Some 89 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2009). The school year starts in September.
The College of The Bahamas, the country’s leading higher education institution, provides a diverse curriculum with courses leading to bachelor’s degree level. The Eugene Dupuch Law School opened in September 1998, as a part of the University of the West Indies. It offers the same curriculum as the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica and the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago. The University of the West Indies has an extra-mural department in Nassau and main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Other government-assisted higher technical and professional schools and private colleges provide clerical, secretarial, accounting and computer training.
Daily newspapers are The Freeport News, The Nassau Guardian and The Tribune; The Punch is published twice weekly, and there are several weeklies.
The Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas provides public radio and TV services, comprising one TV channel and several radio stations; there are several private radio stations. Cable TV is widely available.
There are 123 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).
Country code 1 242; internet domain ‘.bs’. Coin- and card-operated phone booths on all the islands; phonecards can be purchased at shops and post offices. Mobile phone coverage is mainly good; it is patchy in some of the more remote islands.
For every 1,000 people there are 360 landlines, 761 mobile phone subscriptions and 720 internet users (2013).
New Year’s Day, Labour Day (first Friday in June), Independence Day (10 July), Emancipation Day (first Monday in August), Discovery Day (12 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday.