Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation

Quick Facts - EOM Electoral Observation Mission in The Bahamas - May 7, 2012

In the upcoming General Election, scheduled for May 7th 2012, The Bahamas will vote for 38 constituencies among 133 candidates running for the National Assembly. There are 172, 130 registered voters.

Voters must be aged 18 or over, hold Bahamian citizenship, not be subject to any legal incapacity and have lived for a minimum of three months in the constituency. There is an exception for students who indented to “resume actual residence within six months of the completion of such course of study”, according to the Parliamentary Elections Act (1992). Voting is not compulsory in The Bahamas.

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a constitutional parliamentary democracy that operates on the Westminster model system. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the nominal head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom who is represented in The Bahamas by the Governor General. The Bahamas instituted universal suffrage in 1967 and attained formal independence from the United Kingdom in 1973.

  • Executive Branch 

The head of government is the Prime Minister. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is appointed Prime Minister.

  • Legislative Branch 

The Bahamas operates with a bicameral Parliament. The Lower House or House of Assembly carries out major legislative functions.  The House of Assembly has 38 members each of whom is directly elected in a single-member constituency. Members are elected by a simple majority vote (single-member plurality system, first past the post).  Members serve terms not to exceed five years. 

The Upper House, or Senate, consists of 16 members, who are technically appointed by the Governor General.  In practice, the Prime Minister designates nine senators, while the leader of the opposition names four. The Governor-General appoints the remaining three on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consultation with the opposition leader.

  • Judicial Branch

The basis of the Bahamian Law and legal system is the English Common Law tradition. Justices of the Supreme Court, Registrars and Magistrates are appointed by The Governor-General acting on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission. The Judicial and Legal Service Commission comprises five persons with the Chief Justice as Chairman. The Chief Justice and the Justices of the Court of Appeal, including the President, are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

Territorial Division
The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands and 2,400 cays with an area of 5,358 sq. miles (13,878 sq. km.). Thirty of the islands are inhabited. The country lies between latitudes 20° and 28°N, and longitudes 72° and 80°W and extends 760 miles from the coast of Florida on the north-west almost to Haiti on the south-east.

The principal islands include: Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, Inagua, Long Island, Mayaguana, New Providence (where the capital, Nassau, is located), Ragged Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador and Spanish Wells.  

As of the 2010 census the population of The Bahamas totaled 353,658 of which approximately 84% live in urban areas.  Almost 90% of the Bahamian population is clustered on of the three major islands: New Providence accounts for 69.9 percent of the population, while Grand Bahama and Abaco account for 15.5 percent between them. The rest of the population is scattered on the remaining islands and cays.  The huge growth in the services sector of the economy in recent years has prompted people to leave fishing and farming villages for the commercial centers in New Providence Island, Grand Bahama and Great Abaco. 

Ethnically, The Bahamas is predominantly Black (85%); 12% of the population is white and the remaining 3% is made up of Asians and Hispanic.  The predominant religion in The Bahamas is Christianity: 67.6% of the population is some form of Protestant, 13.5% Roman Catholic, and 15.2% other Christian.


English is the official language of The Bahamas, although Creole is spoken among some people (especially Haitian immigrants).


The Bahamas has become one of the world's foremost vacation resorts. Tourism accounts for just over 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy and, when combined with business services, account for about 36% of GDP. The vast majority of them are branches, subsidiaries or affiliates of major banking institutions in North and South America and Western Europe.


  • The Government of The Bahamas
  • Department of Statistics of The Bahamas