Tourism generates about half of all jobs, but the number of visitors has dropped significantly since the beginning of the global economic downturn during the last quarter of 2008. Banking and international financial services also have contracted, and The Bahamas is one of 34 secrecy jurisdictions that would be subject to the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act introduced in the U.S. Congress.
The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state (represented by a Governor-General).
Legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament, which consists of a 41-member House of Assembly (the lower house), with members elected from single-member districts, and a 16-member Senate, with members appointed by the governor-general, including nine on the advice of the prime minister, four on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and three on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition. The House of Assembly carries out all major legislative functions. As under the Westminster system, the prime minister may dissolve parliament and call a general election at any time within a five-year term.
The Prime Minister is the head of government and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Assembly. Executive power is exercised by the cabinet, selected by the prime minister and drawn from his supporters in the House of Assembly. The current governor-general is Sir Arthur Foulkes and the current Prime Minister is Hubert Ingraham.
The Bahamas has a largely two-party system dominated by the centre-left Progressive Liberal Party and the centre-right Free National Movement. A handful of splinter parties have been unable to win election to parliament. These parties have included the Bahamas Democratic Movement, the Coalition for Democratic Reform and the Bahamian Nationalist Party.
Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. Although The Bahamas is not geographically located in the Caribbean, it is a member of the Caribbean Community. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English law.