Geography of the Bahamas

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The Bahamas from space. NASA Aqua satellite image, 2009.
This short video shows the cloudy island of Cuba and The Bahamas as the ISS flies from the Caribbean Sea north-east to the Atlantic Ocean. In the video, you can see Cuba is mostly covered by clouds, but the reefs in the Bahamas stand out quite nicely.

The Bahamas are a group of about 700 islands and cays in the western Atlantic Ocean, of which only between 30 and 40 are inhabited. The largest of the islands is Andros Island, located north of Cuba and 200 kilometres (120 miles) southeast of Florida. The Bimini islands are to its northwest. To the North is the island of Grand Bahama, home to the second-largest city in the country, Freeport. The island of Great Abaco is to its east. In the far south is the island of Great Inagua, the second-largest island in the country. Other notable islands include Eleuthera, Cat Island, San Salvador Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, and Mayaguana. Nassau is the capital and largest city, located on New Providence. The islands have a tropical climate, moderated by the Gulf Stream.

The islands are surface projections of the three oceanic Bahama Banks - the Little Bahama Bank, the Great Bahama Bank, and the westernmost Cay Sal Bank. The highest point is only 63 metres (207 feet) above sea level on Cat Island; the island of New Providence, where the capital city of Nassau is located, reaches a maximum elevation of only thirty-seven meters. The land on the Bahamas has a foundation of fossil coral, but much of the rock is oolitic limestone; the stone is derived from the disintegration of coral reefs and seashells. The land is primarily either rocky or mangrove swamp. Low scrub covers much of the surface area. Pineyards are found on four of the northern islands: Grand Bahama, Great Abaco, New Providence, and Andros. On some of the southern islands, low-growing tropical hardwood flourishes. Although some soil is very fertile, it is also very thin. Only a few freshwater lakes and just one river, located on Andros Island, are found in the Bahamas.


Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in the Bahamas
Highest-known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref.
Rank mm in
1 747.5 29.43 Noel 2007 Long Island [1]
2 500.3 19.70 Matthew 2016 Matthew Town, Inagua [2]
3 436.6 17.19 Flora 1963 Duncan Town [3]
4 390.1 15.36 Inez 1966 Nassau Airport [3]
5 337.1 13.27 Fox 1952 New Providence [3]
6 321.1 12.64 Michelle 2001 Nassau [4]
7 309.4 12.18 Erin 1995 Church Grove [5]
8 260.0 9.88 Fay 2008 Freeport [6]
9 236.7 9.32 Floyd 1999 Little Harbor Abacos [7]
10 216.4 8.52 Cleo 1964 West End [3]

The climate of the archipelago is tropical and has two seasons, a wet summer (wet season) and dry winter (dry season). During the wet season, which extends from May through November, the climate is dominated by warm, moist tropical air masses as the Bermuda High brings a southeasterly flow from the deep tropics. Midsummer temperatures range from 25 to 31 °C (77.0 to 87.8 °F) with a dew point temperatures in the 75 - 77 F range, creating the typical hot and sultry island weather. In dry season, extending from December through April, the subtropical high retreats, and a mix of drier northeast trade winds and occasional westerlies coming from the North American mainland impact the Bahamas. Temperatures during the dry season range from 18 to 25 °C (64.4 to 77.0 °F).

Annual rainfall averages 1,400 millimetres (55 in) and is usually concentrated in the August–October periods. Rainfall often occurs in short-lived, fairly intense, but brief thundershowers accompanied by strong gusty winds, followed by a return the intense sunshine and breezy conditions.

Winds are predominantly easterly throughout the year but tend to become northeasterly from October to April and southeasterly from May to September. These winds seldom exceed twenty-four kilometres per hour except during hurricane season. Although the hurricane season officially lasts from June to November, most hurricanes in the Bahamas occur between July and October. Before a long lull in activity which ended in the 1990s, the last one to strike was Hurricane David in September 1979. Damage was estimated at US$1.8 million and mainly affected agricultural products. The most intense twentieth-century hurricane to strike the Bahamas was the 1929 Bahamas hurricane; winds of up to 230 kilometres per hour (140 mph) were recorded. Many lives were lost, and there was extensive damage to buildings, homes, and boats.

Climate data for Nassau Airport, Bahamas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C 25.2 25.3 26.5 27.7 29.2 30.7 31.7 31.8 31.3 29.7 27.7 25.9 28.56
Average low °C 16.7 16.9 17.7 19.0 21.0 22.9 23.7 23.8 23.6 22.2 20.0 17.7 20.43
Average precipitation mm 47.2 40.3 39.8 53.8 116.3 232.9 157.7 215.9 171.4 175.5 56.6 51.8 1,359.2
Average high °F 77.4 77.5 79.7 81.9 84.6 87.3 89.1 89.2 88.3 85.5 81.9 78.6 83.4
Average low °F 62.1 62.4 63.9 66.2 69.8 73.2 74.7 74.8 74.5 72 68 63.9 68.8
Average precipitation inches 1.9 1.7 1.6 2.2 4.8 9.5 6.5 8.9 7 7.2 2.3 2.1 55.7
Average relative humidity (%) 78 78 76 74 77 79 77 79 81 80 78 78 77.92
Source: World Climate [8]



Map of the Bahamas

Atlantic Ocean, chain islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba and northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Geographic coordinates (capital city Nassau): 25°4′N 77°20′W


  • total: 13,880 km²
county comparison to the world: 161
  • land: 3865 square miles; 10,010 km²
  • water: 3,870 km²

Area comparative[edit]


Natural resources[edit]

Land use[edit]

  • arable land: 0.8%
  • permanent crops: 0.04%
  • other: 98.8% (2012)


  • 3,542 kilometres (2,201 mi)


  • The terrain consists of long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills.

Extreme points[edit]

Irrigated land[edit]

  • 10 km2 (2003)

Total renewable water resources[edit]

  • 0.02 km3 (2011)


Natural hazards[edit]

  • Hurricanes and other tropical storms that cause extensive flood and wind damage.

Environment - Current issues[edit]

  • Coral reef decay
  • Solid waste disposal

Environment - International agreements[edit]

Party to these agreements:

  • Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetl

Geography - note[edit]

  • The Bahamas are strategically located adjacent to the United States and Cuba.
  • The Bahamas are an extensive island chain of which 30 islands are inhabited.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Daniel P (December 17, 2007). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Noel (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. p. 4. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  2. ^ Stewart, Stacy R (April 3, 2017). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Matthew (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Roth, David M. (October 18, 2017). "Tropical Cyclone Point Maxima". Tropical Cyclone Rainfall Data. United States Weather Prediction Center. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  4. ^ Beven III, John L (January 23, 2002). Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Michelle (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  5. ^ Rappaport, Edward N (November 26, 1995). Preliminary Report: Hurricane Erin (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  6. ^ Beven III, John L; Stewart, Stacey R (February 8, 2009). Tropical Cyclone Report: Tropical Storm Fay 2008 (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  7. ^ Pasch, Richard J; Kimberlain, Todd B; Stewart, Stacey R (November 18, 1999). Preliminary Report: Hurricane Floyd (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  8. ^ "World Climate". Retrieved November 8, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chenoweth, Michael (1998). "The Early 19th Century Climate of the Bahamas and a Comparison with 20th Century Averages". Climatic Change. 40 (3&ndash, 4): 577&ndash, 603. doi:10.1023/A:1005371320672.
  • Carew, James L.; Mylroie, John E. (1997). Geology of the Bahamas (PDF). Retrieved 9 February 2017.