The Commonwealth of The Bahamas stretches over a large area south east of Florida and comprises 700 islands and about 1.000 cays of which only 30 are inhabited. The total area of the Bahamas is 13,940 km2 and its population of 306,000 people (2007) is essentially of African (85%) and European (12%) origin. More than three quarters of the total population are concentrated on only two islands: Grand Bahama and two thirds of the whole population on New Providence (with the capital Nassau). The other main islands, the so-called Outer or Family Islands have small populations, only basic infrastructure and a much lower standard of living; there is a strong migration movement from the Family Islands to New Providence and Grand Bahama. The annual growth rate of the population is 0.60%. Average life expectancy is 67.5 years. GDP per Capita is high: € 15,400.
Tourism is the dominant sector of the economy, which also depends on banking and finance - and, due mainly to the proximity of the North American market, has developed into a successful year-round industry. The contribution to the GDP of the sector is nearly 40%, followed by financial services (15) Banking secrecy rules are very carefully observed.
The Bahamas is generally commended for sound management of the economy by the multilateral agencies, and for transparency in governance.
The Bahamas concluded the negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at the end of 2007. Under the 10th EDF (European Development Fund 2008-2013), € 4.7 M is available, earmarked for the further development of the Family Islands.
The Family Islands were selected on the basis that there seemed to be nascent development potential, which, if supported at this stage, would help in the realisation of the objective of the Government to develop the disadvantaged regions and stem the exodus to Nassau, the capital, and to the island of New Providence, where it is located. The islands selected for the continuation of the consultation exercise were Andros, Eleuthera and San Salvador.