Bahamas Geography and Geology

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a group of some 700 Islands and nearly 2,500 small islets or cays. Approximately 30 of these Islands are inhabited. The two major population centers are the capital, Nassau which is located on New Providence Island and Freeport, located on Grand Bahama Island. The other populated Islands and cays are called Family Islands.

The Bahamas stretches Southeast off the Florida coast, the closest Family Island to the U.S. mainland being Bimini, about 50 miles off the coast of South Florida. The other islands stretch across roughly 100,000 square miles of ocean, beginning at their northernmost point about 175 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida and winding nearly 750 miles to the southeast where they are within 50 miles of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic).

Geographically considered part of the Caribbean, the archipelago that encompasses the the Bahamas lies in the Atlantic Ocean, extending more than 650 miles from the eastern coast of Florida to the southeastern tip of Cuba. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the Great Bahama Bank and through the Island of Great Exuma.

The Bahama Islands are the result of coral reefs which become dry land when the sea level dropped hundreds of centuries ago. The islands are mostly flat with miles of white and pink sandy beaches. The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia on Cat Island which is 206 feet about sea level.

There are no rivers in the Bahamas in part because the Islands of the Bahamas are made entirely of calcium carbonate, which is mainly produced or precipitated by the organisms of coral reefs — this also contributes to the Bahamas having the clearest waters in the world with visibility of over 200 feet (61 meters). In fact, 5% of the world’s coral can be found in the waters of The Bahamas and the Bahamas has the world’s third longest barrier reef

Geography in the Bahamas By The Numbers

Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida; strategic location adjacent to US
Geographic coordinates:
24 15 N, 76 00 W
total: 13,940 sq km;
water: 3,870 sq km
land: 10,070 sq km
Area – comparative:
land area is slightly smaller than Connecticut
total area is slightly larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.
Land boundaries:
0 km
3,542 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
semi-tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream
long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Alvernia, on Cat Island 63 m
Natural resources:
salt, aragonite, timber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: <1%
other: 99%
Natural hazards:
hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage
Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements