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Local government in the Bahamas

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Bahamas
Foreign relations

Local government in the Bahamas exists in two forms, namely second-schedule and third-schedule district councils. There are a total of 32 local government districts: 13 second-schedule districts, which are further sub-divided into town areas, and 19 third-schedule districts, which are all unitary authorities. The second and third schedules together make up the first schedule.[1] Local government policy is formulated and administered by the Department of Lands and Local Government through the Office of the Prime Minister. The day-to-day policy handling of the portfolio falls to the Minister of Local Government who also is empowered to create new local government areas from time to time based on demographics. The administrative and financial management is overseen by the ministry’s permanent secretary.[2]


  • History 1
  • Types of Councils 2
  • Elections 3
  • Major Islands 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Local government previously existed in the Bahamas in the form of appointed "Board of Works". Here towns and villages held their influence over these Board of Works, but almost all final decisions were made by the central government through that islands' Commissioner. The modern system of local government that is in use today was implemented on 8th March 1996. The Out Islands of the country could now enjoy a somewhat greater degree of autonomy, but New Providence Island, in which the capital city Nassau is located, was to be directly governed by the central government. The act that implemented local government had described all districts as either being Second-Schedule or Third-Schedule districts. [3]

Types of Councils

Every district in the Bahamas has a districts council.[4] A district council is a corporate body with perpetual succession; capable of entering into contracts, of suing and being sued, of acquiring, holdings, leasing and disposing of property of any description, and of doing all such things and entering into such transactions that are within the scope of the Local Government Act.[5] District Councillors are elected by the population of that district in accordance with Local Government Act.[6] As stated in The Bahamas Local Government Act 1996, Districts councillors shall within two weeks of their election, elect from among themselves a Chief Councillor.[7] The Chief Councillor shall be the representative of a Districts Council for all affairs. He or she is to preside over all meetings and also themselves co-ordinate these meetings.[8]

All districts councils are classed as first-schedule councils. The first-schedule is further sub-divided into two types of councils: two tier second-schedule district councils that have town committees within their jurisdiction, and unitary third-tier district councils.[9] Second-schedule districts have the following statutory boards and committees:

  • Road Traffic Licensing Authority
  • Port and Harbour Authority
  • Hotel Licensing Board
  • Liquor and Shop Licensing
  • Town Planning Committee

Town committees are sub-structures of the second-schedule district councils, but are also corporate bodies themselves. They share responsibility with second-schedule district councils for a number of the schedule local government functions. They also have statutory responsibility for local regulation and licensing within their jurisdiction.[10] Third-schedule districts councils are unique within the Bahamas because they combine the responsibilities of the second-schedule districts and of the town committees. It should be noted that both second- and third-schedule district councils carry out a building control function...[11]

Distribution of councils and population (2010 Census)
Island 2nd tier 3rd tier Town Population
New Providence 0 0 248,948
Abaco islands 3 3 16,692
Acklins 1 0 560
Andros island 1 3 7,386
Berry Islands 1 0 798
Bimini 1 0 2,008
Cat Island 0 1 1,503
Crooked Island 1 0 323
Grand Bahama 1 2 51,756
Harbour Island 1 0 1,702
Eleuthera 1 2 7,826
Exuma and Cays 1 1 7,314
Inagua 1 0 911
Long Island 0 1 3,024
Mayaguana 1 0 271
Ragged island 1 0 70
Rum Cay 1 0 99
San Salvador 1 0 930
Spanish Wells 1 0 1,537
TOTAL 18 13 353,658 13,940
Largest Council 31,478 6,014
Smallest Council 72 1,548


Local government elections take place once every three years in the Bahamas with the most recent elections taking place in June 2011 in which 391 positions were contested.[12] The voting system used in local government elections is the first-past-the-post system. Both councillors of third-schedule district councils and members of town committees are directly elected, while members of second-schedule councils are indirectly elected from town committees. Third schedule district councils have between five and nine members, whereas the size of councils in both second-schedule councils and town committees varies according to population size. Bye elections are held whenever the need arises. A councillor is deemed to have resigned if they are absent for three consecutive meetings.

For both types of district councils the Chief Councillors and their deputies are indirectly elected from amongst the elected officials. They serve for the lifetime of the council and the Minister of Local Government determines their stipend. Second-schedule district councils' statutory boards also elect chairpersons and their deputies from amongst their members.[13]

Major Islands

Reference map for the Islands of the Bahamas[14]
Islands of the Bahamas[15]
Crest Island's name Capital (or largest settlement) Population Area (km²)
Acklins Spring Point[16] 560 492
Abaco Marsh Harbour[17] 16,692 1,681
Andros Andros Town 7,386 5,957
the Berry Islands Nicholls Town 798 31
Bimini Alice Town[18] 2,008 23
Cat Island Arthur's Town[19] 1,503 23
Crooked Island Colonel Hill[20] 323 241
Eleuthera Governor's Harbour[21] 9,363 518
Grand Bahama Freeport City[22] 51,756 1,373
Inagua Matthew Town[23] 911 1,679
Long Island Clarence Town[24] 3,024 596
Mayaguana Abraham's Bay[25] 271 285
New Providence Nassau 248,948 207
Ragged Duncan Town[26] 70 36
Rum Cay Port Nelson 99 78
San Salvador Cockburn Town[27] 930 163
The Bahamas Nassau 353,658[28] 13,943

See also


  1. ^ "The Local Government System in the Bahamas". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
  2. ^ "The Local Government System in the Bahamas:Ministerial oversight:". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
  3. ^ "West Indies". The Hope Town District Council. 
  4. ^ Bahamas Local Government Act 1996, Part IV, Section 10:1 Retrieved-November-27
  5. ^ Bahamas Local Government Act 1996, Part IV, 10:2 Retrieved-November-27
  6. ^ Bahamas Local Government Act 1996, Part IV, 10:4 Retrieved-November-27
  7. ^ Bahamas Local Government Act 1996, Part IV, 11 Retrieved-November-27
  8. ^ Bahamas Local Government Act 1996, Part IV, 11:2 Retrieved-November-27
  9. ^ "The Local Government System in the Bahamas:Council Types". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
  10. ^ "The Local Government System in the Bahamas:Council Types:Second-schedule District Councils&Town Committees". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
  11. ^ "The Local Government System in the Bahamas:Council Types:Third-Schedule Districts". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
  12. ^ Gibbs, Gena (June 25, 2011). "Local Government holds national elections in Family Islands". Bahamas Information Services. 
  13. ^ "The Local Government System in the Bahamas:Elections". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
  14. ^ "Reference map for the Islands of the Bahamas". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "The Commonwealth of the Bahamas". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  16. ^ "Acklins / Crooked Island Activities and Attractions". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "DeBora's Dreamscape". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  18. ^ "What is the capital of Bimini island?". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  19. ^ "Majestic Holidays". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  20. ^ "Acklins Island and Crooked Island, Bahamas". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  21. ^ "Med Point". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  22. ^ "Grand Bahama - an impartial guide to the Island". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  23. ^ "The Inaguas". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  24. ^ "Bahamas Gateway Yellow Pages -- Hotels". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  25. ^ "What is the capital of mayaguana?". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  26. ^ "DeBora's Dreamscape". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  27. ^ "San Salvador Bahamas: Christopher Columbus First Landfall". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  28. ^ "Comparison between the 2000 and 2010 Population Censuses and Percentage Change". Retrieved 20 December 2010. 

External links

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