Skip to main content

Bahamas Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

In December 2019, the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was unsuccessful in its attempts to pass a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, leader of the ruling Free National Movement (FNM), over the leasing of a mall. The FNM holds a majority in the House of Assembly with 35 out of 39 seats.As part of the measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus in the country, the government on 18 March declared a state of emergency that was extended until 29 June, including night-time curfews and a total lockdown on weekends and holidays. In May 2020, the Bahamas Development Bank approved over USD2 million in loans and grants to assist SMEs affected by the pandemic, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved emergency financial assistance of USD250 million to help the country meet its balance-of-payments needs. Following the passage of Hurricane Dorian from August to September 2019, the Pacific Disaster Center estimated the country’s capital exposure at USD8.1 billion. Ongoing hurricane-related costs have continued to pressure government finances and are only likely to increase as a result of the expected negative economic impact of the COVID-19-virus outbreak. The Bahamas’ economy is largely dependent on the tourism sector, which is being negatively affected by the COVID-19-virus crisis, with IHS Markit forecasting an economic contraction of 11.2% of GDP in 2020.The European Union announced in May 2020 that it would include the Bahamas in its blacklist of states over money-laundering and terrorism-financing concerns. The move somewhat increases scrutiny of financial transactions. The Minnis government is likely to attempt to continue to improve domestic regulations to address these concerns.

Operational Outlook

The passage of hurricanes Dorian and Humberto in September 2019 caused severe destruction in the country, especially in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, affecting infrastructure and utilities with an estimated USD3.4 billion in damage. The government’s continued management of post-hurricane reconstruction and an increased unemployment rate over the next year due to the effects of the COVID-19-virus will affect civil unrest risks. Environmental protests have become more likely since the approval of oil exploration laws in 2016. The government is likely to encourage foreign investment following the September 2019 hurricanes and the effects of the pandemic.

Terrorism

The risk of terrorist attacks is low. There are no domestic terrorist groups with the intention or capability to conduct terrorist attacks in the Bahamas. In 2018, the Bahamas passed a new Anti-Terrorism Act, increasing the authorities’ capacity to counter terrorist threats and updating legislation originally passed in 2004. In January 2017, former prime minister Perry Christie denied the accusation that the Bahamas held terrorism links with the Islamic State.

Crime

Homicides fell steadily by 26% from 123 in 2014 to 91 in 2018, with over half related to organised crime and drug sales. However, the number of homicides increased by 5.5% in 2019 compared with 2018, rising to 96 incidents. Although crime levels do not pose a serious risk to foreigners, visitors are advised to take security precautions when in urban areas, especially in the Sand Trap area in Nassau. Organised crime in the Bahamas primarily revolves around drug trafficking and money laundering. Illegal drug gangs continue to use the Bahamas as a transhipment route and, as a result, the country remains on the US list of major drug transit countries.

War Risks

The risk of civil or interstate war in Bahamas is low. There is no known group inside the country with intention to use force to change the government. Drug traffickers present a limited challenge to the state, but these criminal gangs do not have political aspirations. Disputes over migration issues with Haiti and the countries’ historical maritime boundaries with the United States and Cuba are unlikely to lead to war.

Social Stability

The risk of large-scale violent protests is generally low, however an increased unemployment rate over the next year as a result of the expected negative economic impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak will increase the likelihood of peaceful economically motivated demonstrations in the next 12 months. In November 2018, hundreds protested in Nassau over an increase in electricity prices. Labour union strikes are relatively short-lived and predominantly non-violent, with a National Tripartite Council helping to mediate disputes and limit any escalation of industrial unrest. Sporadic environmental protests are likely to target the Bahamas Petroleum Company developing an exploratory well southwest of Andros.

Health Risk

Vaccines Required to Enter the Country

Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in the Bahamas. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.

Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Natural Risks

The Bahamas is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes during the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30. Two of the most destructive storms to hit the archipelago in recent memory have been Hurricane Joaquin (October 2015) and Hurricane Matthew (October 2016), which together caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, though no deaths. The country's southern islands were also struck by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, causing significant damage in some places (e.g. Ragged Island and Acklins Island), though sparing the capital and the areas most popular with visitors. Information regarding current or forecast storms is available on the US National Hurricane Center's website

Transportation

Low

Traffic accidents are relatively common, in part due to reckless driving habits and a general non-enforcement of traffic laws, including blood-alcohol limits.

Flooding is relatively common and can render roads impassable.

Cars drive on the left side of the road in this British Commonwealth.

Practical Information

Climate

The climate in the Bahamas is temperate throughout the year due to trade winds that blow across the archipelago all year long. Temperatures range from 32°C in the summer to 16°C in the winter. The country also enjoys 320 sunny days per year.

The rainy season lasts from May until November during which time brief rain showers generally occur at night.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +1 242
Police: 919
Fire Dept.: 919
Ambulance: 919

Electricity

Voltage: 120 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal