An archipelago of 700 islands and islets, the Bahamas attracts millions of tourists each year.
The visitors come to enjoy its mild climate, fine beaches and beautiful forests.
A former British colony and now a Commonwealth member, the country is a major centre for offshore finance and has one of the world's largest open-registry shipping fleets.
At a glance
- Politics: Perry Christie from the Progressive Liberal Party became prime minister for a second time in 2012
- Economy: The Bahamas is one of the region's most prosperous countries. Tourism and offshore finance are important industries
Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
The Bahamas enjoys a high per capita income.
The huge growth in the services sector of the economy has prompted people to leave fishing and farming villages for the commercial centres in New Providence Island, Grand Bahama and Great Abaco.
This trend has compounded the islands' dependence on tourism and banking.
As with other Caribbean countries, The Bahamas faces the challenge of tackling drugs trafficking and illegal immigration.
It has taken steps to clean-up its offshore banking system.
The Bahamas is a destination for migrants from its strife-torn Caribbean neighbour, Haiti. Tens of thousands of Haitians are thought to be living illegally in the country.
Bahamian culture is expressed most colourfully in "Junkanoo" street celebrations, which feature rhythmic music, dance and elaborate costumes and masks.