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Geography, climate and population
The Bahamas, officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, comprises about 700 islands and cays, in the North Atlantic Ocean, that extend from 80 km east of Florida (United States of America) southeasterly to 80 km northeast of Cuba and Haiti. The total area of the country is 13 880 km2.
The largest islands of the Bahamas are: North Andros (3 439 km2), Great Inagua (1 544 km2), South Andros (1 448 km2), Great Abaco (1 146 km2), Grand Bahama (1 096 km2), Long Island (596 km2), Eleuthera (518 km2), Acklins (497 km2), Cat Island (389 km2), Exuma (290 km2), Mayaguana (285 km2), Crooked Island (241 km2), New Providence (207 km2), San Salvador (163 km2) and Little Inagua (127 km2).
The country is politically divided into 31 districts. It can also be divided into three geographical areas: (i) New Providence Island, where the capital Nassau is located; (ii) Grand Bahama, where the second most populated town Freeport is located; (iii) Family Islands, which is the name given to all of the other islands and cays (USACE, 2004).
In 2012, the total physical cultivated area was estimated at 12 000 ha, of which 67 percent (8 000 ha) consisted of temporary crops and 33 percent (4 000 ha) of permanent crops. Permanent meadows and pasture cover 2 000 ha, which brings to total agricultural area to 14 000 ha (Table 1).
The country has a marine tropical climate dominated by Atlantic Southeast Trade Winds in the summer and cool and dry North American high-pressure systems in winter.
Average annual precipitation in the country is estimated at 1 290 mm, ranging more than 1 600 mm in the northwestern part of the archipelago to 600 mm in the dry southeastern islands. Inagua, the southernmost island, is practically a desert. Rainfall occurs mainly during the warm summer months from May to October. Limited rainfall is contributed in the cooler months from November to April, due to the passage of North American winter frontal systems. Tropical storms and hurricanes have a great influence on precipitation, even when their tracts of passage are several hundred kilometers away from the Bahamas. The hurricane season officially extends from June to November.
The Southeast Trade Winds dominate the weather for much of the year, providing a cooling effect. Maximum temperatures in the Bahamas range from 25ēC to 30ēC and minimum temperatures range from 17ēC to 24ēC from north to south (USACE, 2004).
In 2013, the total population was about 377 000 inhabitants, of which around 15 percent was rural (Table 1). Population density is 27 inhabitants/km2. The average annual population growth rate in the 2003-2013 period has been estimated at 2 percent.
Only about 30 of the islands are inhabited. New Providence Island accounts for 70 percent of the total population, mostly concentrated in the capital Nassau, follow by Grand Bahama Island which accounts for 15 percent of the total population, mostly located in Freeport. The Family Islands account for the remaining 15 percent (USACE, 2004).
In 2012, 98 percent of the total population had access to improved water sources (both urban and rural) and 92 percent of the total population had access to improved sanitation (also both urban and rural).