If you’re traveling to or planning a vacation in the Bahamas you might be interested in knowing a little about the area.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an independent English-speaking nation in the West Indies. Where in the world are they? The Bahamas are located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida in the US, north of Cuba and the Caribbean, and west of the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Bahamas are a group of about 700 islands in the western Atlantic Ocean, of which only between 30 and 40 are inhabited. That may sound like a large place but on a comparison basis, the Bahamas are only slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.
The largest of the islands is Andros Island, located 120 miles south-east of Florida. The Bimini islands are to its northwest. To the North is the island of Grand Bahama, home to the second largest city in the country, Freeport, Bahamas.
The island of Great Abaco is to its east. In the very south is the island of Great Inagua, the second largest island in the country.
A few facts and figures: Nassau is the capital and largest city, located on New Providence. The islands have a subtropical climate, moderated by the Gulf Stream. Most people are ethnic Christians, and English is the official language.
The islands are surface projections of three oceanic banks, the Little Bahama Bank, the Great Bahama Bank and the westernmost Cay Sal Bank. The highest point is only 2480 inches (just less than half a mile) above sea level on Cat Island; the island of New Providence, where the capital city of Nassau is located, reaches a maximum elevation of only 1,457 inches.
The land on the Bahamas has a foundation of fossil coral, but much of the rock is oolitic limestone; the stone is derived from the disintegration of coral reefs and seashells. The land is primarily either rocky or mangrove swamp. Low scrub covers much of the surface area. Timber is found in abundance on four of the northern islands: Grand Bahama, Great Abaco, New Providence, and Andros. On some of the southern islands, low-growing tropical hardwood flourishes.
Although some soil is very fertile, it is also very thin. Only a few freshwater lakes and just one river, located on Andros Island, are found in the Bahamas.
The climate in the Bahamas is semitropical. They have only two seasons, summer and winter.
During the summer, which extends from May through November, the climate is dominated by warm, moist tropical air masses moving north through the Caribbean. Midsummer temperatures range from 70-¦ to 93-¦ F with a relative humidity of 60- 100%.
In winter months, extending from December through April, the climate is affected by the movement of cold polar masses from North America. Temperatures during the winter months range from 59-¦ to 75-¦ F.
Yearly rainfall averages 52 inches annually and is usually concentrated in the May-June and September-October periods. Rainfall often occurs in short-lived, fairly intense showers accompanied by strong gusty winds.
Winds are predominantly easterly throughout the year but tend to become northeasterly from October to April and southeasterly from May to September. These winds seldom exceed 15 mph per hour except during hurricane season.
Although the hurricane season officially lasts from June to November, most hurricanes in the Bahamas occur between July and October. The last hurricane to strike was Hurricane David in September 1979. Damage was estimated at US$1.8 million and mainly affected agricultural products. The most intense twentieth-century hurricane to strike the Bahamas was in 1929. Winds of up to 140 mph were recorded.
Don’t let the hurricanes and heat scare you. The Bahamas are a wonderful place for vacation, any time of the year. Pick up your sunglasses, find your swim suit and call your travel agent today!