The Economy of the Bahamas

The Bahamian economy is based primarily on tourism, which is concentrated mainly in Nassau and Grand Bahama. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, tourism and construction are largely responsible for a real GDP growth of about 4 percent annually since 1996. Another important economic sector is financial services, which places the Bahamas among the world’s leading financial centers. After the impact from Hurricane Floyd, this sector was back to full strength in less than three working days and made a tremendous contribution to disaster relief efforts, both individually and through financial organizations.

Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs almost half of the archipelago’s labor force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences have led to solid GDP growth in recent years. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors.

Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the US, the source of the majority of tourist visitors.

The Economy of the Bahamas: By the Numbers

purchasing power parity – $5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP – real growth rate
3.5% (2001)
GDP – per capita
purchasing power parity – $16,800 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector
agriculture: 3%
industry: 7%
services: 90% (1999 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
1.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force
156,000 (1999)
Labor force – by occupation
tourism 40%, other services 50%, industry 5%, agriculture 5% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate
6.9% (2001 est.)
revenues: $918.5 million
expenditures: $956.5 million, including capital expenditures of $106.7 million (FY99/00)
tourism, banking, cement, oil refining and transshipment, salt, rum, aragonite, pharmaceuticals, spiral-welded steel pipe
Industrial production growth rate
Electricity production
1.54 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity production by source
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
solar: < 0.01%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity  consumption
1.432 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture  products
citrus, vegetables; poultry
$535.8 million (2000)
Exports  commodities
fish and crawfish; rum, salt, chemicals; fruit and vegetables (1999)
Exports – partners
US 28.2%, France 16.5%, Germany 14.1%, UK 12.4% (2000)
$1.88 billion (2000)
Imports  commodities
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and live animals (1999)
Imports – partners
US 31.6%, South Korea 18.2%, Italy 17.4%, Japan 5.8% (2000)
Debt – external
$381.9 million (2000)
Economic aid  recipient
$9.8 million (1995)
Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Exchange rates
Bahamian dollars per US dollar – 1.000 (fixed rate pegged to the dollar)