Bahamas, The, officially Commonwealth of the Bahamas, independent country, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, in the West Indies. The Bahamas comprise an archipelago of about 700 islands and islets and nearly 2,400 cays (pronounced “keys”) and rocks, extending for about 800 km (about 500 mi) from a point southeast of Palm Beach, Florida, to a point off the eastern tip of Cuba. The Biminis, the westernmost of the group, are about 97 km (about 60 mi) east of Miami, Florida. About 30 of the islands are inhabited. New Providence is economically the most important of the group and contains more than half of the Bahamas' total population. The other chief islands, all of which are low-lying, include Acklins, Andros, Cat, Crooked, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Great Inagua, Harbour, Long, Mayaguana, and San Salvador (Watling). The area of the country is 13,939 sq km (5,382 sq mi).
The population of The Bahamas (2002 estimate) is 300,529; about 85 percent of the population is black. The country's capital is Nassau (population, 1997, 172,000), on New Providence. The only other large town is Freeport (26,574), on Grand Bahama.
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