The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, or simply the Bahamas, is an island country in the Atlantic Ocean consisting of 700+ islets, islands and cays. Lying north of Cuba and Haiti and southeast off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas retains Queen Elizabeth II as its governing monarch but has been an independent Commonwealth since 1973.
The Bahamas is the third wealthiest country in the Americas (behind the U.S and Canada), relying mostly on finance and tourism to fuel its economy. Its capital is Nassau, the largest Bahamian city (pop. 250,000), where many of the islands’ finance and banking centers are located. In addition to beaches, fishing, shopping and scuba diving, tourists frequently visit the Bahamas to gamble in several casinos scattered over the main islands.
Once heavily dependent on fishing and agriculture, the Bahamian economy now enjoys a diversified economy based on international shipping and the tourist industry.
The Bahamas have a tropical savannah climate maintained by a warm Gulf Stream and its low elevation in the Atlantic Ocean. With only a 10 degree difference separating the warmest and coolest months, the Bahamas has one of the most consistently sunny, balmy climates in the world. Summer is usually the wettest season, with late summer and early fall the time when hurricanes and tropical storms pose a danger to the Islands.
English is the official language of the Bahamas but many Bahamians speak English with a distinct Bahamian Dialect that is sometimes difficult to understand.
Students visiting the outer islands of the Bahamas will find shops full of handicrafts, palm frond baskets, plaited bags and hags and the always popular “voodoo” dolls which are sold as novelty items.
On New Year’s and Boxing Day, Nassau hosts the Junkanoo, a traditional street parade featuring Bahamian art, music and dance. Restaurants offer Bahamian cuisine that reflect an interesting mixture of African, European and Caribbean influences.
Cost of living
Imported goods (non-seafood consumables, clothes and cars) are typically more expensive then locally produced goods but dental and medical care costs less for those uninsured than it does in Europe and the U.S. Students with limited budgets need to avoid “tourist” traps where the price of items are almost always double what they would normally cost when sold in another venue.
Study in Bahamas
The College of the Bahamas, the University of the West Indies, the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and the Bahamas Hotel Training College are the primary higher education institutions located in the Bahamas. The majority of international students attend the COB (College of the Bahamas), a public college offering associate, bachelor and master degrees for over 60 majors. Law, pharmaceutical and other professional degree programs may be taken in partnership with U.S. and Caribbean universities.
Students can also earn degrees in business, liberal arts, communication, chemistry, nursing, mathematics and education at the COB. Higher education practices in the Bahamas closely follow other Caribbean degree programs, with bachelor degrees taking three to four years and master degrees taking another one to two years. Colleges in the Bahamas currently do not offer doctorate programs.
Financial aid is available in the form of private or government grants, awards and scholarships only to full-time Bahamian students. . Funding is limited so no student is allowed to receive more than one financial aid award per semester.
The Bahamian healthcare system is both private and public, consisting of government-funded healthcare for qualified residents and private or employment health insurance coverage. The Ministry of Health is responsible for delivering primary preventative healthcare in the Bahamas at government-owned health centers and clinics.
Students can either use the public healthcare system or purchase their own health insurance for the duration of their studies. In addition, students should know that the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. recommend getting a hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine before traveling to the Bahamas. Both diseases have been found in contaminated food and water on the Islands.
Residents of 120 countries can stay in the Bahamas for three months without needing a visa. Students from Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Greece, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, the U.K and the U.S. can remain in the Bahamas for eight months before they must obtain a visa.
Why Study in the Bahamas?
Students earning a degree in finance, business or tourism can find employment fairly easy in the larger cities of Nassau or Freeport. In fact, the tourist industry generates 50 percent of all jobs available in the Bahamas. However, with the unemployment rate in the Bahamas holding steady at 13 percent, students obtaining another type of degree are advised to seek employment outside the Bahamas.
Cost of Living
Below you can see some basic cost-of-living indicators in Bahamas, The. Actual cost of living will vary depending on your choices and lifestyle.
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