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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Bahamian(s).
Population (2000): 304,913.
Annual growth rate (2000): 1.7%.
Ethnic groups: African 85%, European 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%.
Religions: Baptist predominant (32%), Roman Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical Protestants, Methodist, Church of God.
Language: English; some Creole among Haitian groups.
Education: Years compulsory--through age 16. Attendance--95%. Literacy--93%.
Health (2000): Infant mortality rate--17.0/1,000. Life expectancy--73.9 years.
Work force (2000): 157,640; majority employed in the tourism, government, and financial services sectors.
Eighty-five percent of the Bahamian population is of African heritage. About two-thirds of the population reside on New Providence Island (the location of Nassau). Many ancestors arrived in the Bahama Islands when they served as a staging area for the slave trade in the early 1800s. Others accompanied thousands of British loyalists who fled the American colonies during the Revolutionary War.
School attendance is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. The government fully operates 158 of the 210 primary and secondary schools in The Bahamas. The other 52 schools are privately operated. Enrollment for state and private primary and secondary schools amounts to more than 66,000 students. The College of The Bahamas, established in Nassau in 1974, provides programs leading to bachelors and associates degrees. The college is now converting from a 2- to a 4-year institution. Several non-Bahamian colleges also offer higher education programs in The Bahamas.