Emerging Markets / April 12, 2017

Tourism, Agriculture, and Land Distribution in the Bahamas

The Bahamas is a small archipelago nation in the Atlantic Ocean, north of Cuba and east of Florida. With a multitude of cays and islands, only 30 of which are inhabited, the Bahamas has a total territory of almost 14.000 square kilometers (or 1.4 million hectares), which is somewhat smaller than Connecticut. The Bahamas is biologically diverse within its more than 3.800 square kilometers of maritime territory, while, geographically, its coral and land formations tend to be low and flat with limited hills. Similarly, the Bahamas has a total population of less than 330.000 citizens, of which almost 270.000 live in the capital city of Nassau. Currently, the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) is of approximately US$9 billion. Furthermore, the country has a large and well-developed tourism industry accounting for half of the national GDP. However, the Bahamas are prone to natural disasters, particularly hurricanes and high tides. The Bahamian national economy is divided into 2% agriculture, 8% manufacturing, and 90% services. Likewise, the agriculture industry utilizes about 2% of the national territory, while another 51% is forested. The agricultural industry in the Bahamas employs 3% of the national labor force, while manufacturing employs about 11% and services employ another 86% (of which tourism accounts for almost 50%).

In terms of natural resources, the Bahamas has salt, aragonite, timber, and arable land. Within the manufacturing industry, the Bahamas focuses on banking, oil bunkering, transshipment, salt processing, rum distilling, and pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, the archipelago nation’s agricultural industry has as main products citrus, vegetables, and poultry. Similarly, alongside fifteen other mainly English-speaking nations in the Caribbean, such as Jamaica, Belize, and Barbados, the Bahamas is a full member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The official currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar (USD) on a one to one ratio (1:1). In terms of trade, the Bahamas’ main partners are the United States, Poland, the Ivory Coast, China, and the Dominican Republic, amongst others. This article explores land distribution and cereals production in the Bahamas.

Tourism, Agriculture, and Land Distribution in the Bahamas

The total land area in the Bahamas equates to 1 million hectares and its distribution has evolved throughout the last half century. In 1961, permanent pastures and meadows in the country covered approximately 1.000 hectares, while arable land totaled 7.000 hectares, and permanent crops accounted for some 2.000 hectares. By 2014, permanent pastures and meadows in the Bahamas had increased to account for 2.000 hectares, while arable land represented some 8.000 hectares, and permanent crops accounted for about 4.000 hectares. Likewise, the domestic cereals market in the Bahamas has transformed substantially throughout the last several decades. In 1961, the country devoted approximately 150 hectares of land to the production of cereals and produced about 100 metric tons annually. Meanwhile, in 2014, the Bahamas devoted 55 hectares of land to cereals production and yielded almost 450 metric tons. Lastly, forested areas cover over 500.000 hectares within the country.

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