About the Bahamas

The Bahamas is a group of some 700 islands located off the southeast coast of the US state of Florida. Formerly a British Crown colony, the Bahamas became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1973, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch. The Bahamas has one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the western hemisphere and a political and legal system that closely follows the UK system with English Common Law applying. The official language of the Bahamas is English.

The population is approximately 380,000 centred principally on the capital city of Nassau on the island of New Providence. In terms of gross domestic product per capita, the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas (following the US and Canada). Its economy is based on tourism and financial services. The Bahamas attracted 5.8 million visitors in 2012 and tourism generates about half of all jobs. Banking and international financial services are the second largest economic sector, accounting for about 15% of GDP.

The Bahamas boasts excellent communications with a state of the art telephone system and convenient flight links. Flight time to Miami is 30 minutes and Nassau has US immigration pre-clearance. Panama is increasingly a hub to South America and Nassau has regular direct flights to Panama City with a flight time of two and a half hours.

The Bahamas has a wide range of international banks with approximately 220 banks holding licences under the Banks and Trust Companies Regulations Act, 2000. Confidentiality is assured with the English Common Law duty of confidentiality being preserved and expanded upon by statutes imposing penalties on banks, attorneys, auditors and government officials who disclose private information.

The Bahamas is a zero-tax jurisdiction with no personal or corporate taxes, no capital gains, transfer or inheritance taxes. There is no exchange control for non-Bahamian residents. The repatriation of foreign investment funds, foreign assets and dividends or profits arising from foreign investment is allowed and facilitated. The dollar (BSD) has been the currency of The Bahamas since 1966. The Bahamian dollar is pegged to the US dollar on a one-to-one basis.

The Bahamas encourages the growth of its financial sector through adherence to internationally accepted regulatory principles, and efficiency in their administration. The Central Bank of The Bahamas supervises all bank and trust companies, and maintains a regulatory environment that is conducive to investment opportunities while at the same time ensuring the highest standards of operations and conduct. The securities sector is a dynamic and growing part of the financial services industry. The Securities Commission of The Bahamas is an independent body, charged with the responsibility for providing regulatory oversight for developing capital markets, including investment funds.

The Bahamas is a progressive financial centre with innovative financial products including “SMART” Investment Funds, Bahamas Executive Entities and, most recently, the introduction of the “ICON” Fund.

Useful Links

Bahamas Government – www.bahamas.gov.bs

Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) – http://http://www.bahamas.gov.bs

Securities Commission of The Bahamas – www.scb.gov.bs

Central Bank of The Bahamas – www.centralbankbahamas.com

Bahamas Financial Services Board – www.bfsb-bahamas.com

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