The Bahamas reached another historic milestone in September 2004 when the country marked its 275th year of Parliamentary Democracy. The longstanding democratic principles upon which the country is based, have been instrumental in The Bahamas, the third oldest democracy in the Western hemisphere, becoming a destination of choice for both business and pleasure.

The Bahamas’ peaceful transition to majority rule in 1967 and independence in 1973 have provided significant comfort to those who choose to live and work in the country. Adherence to democratic principles and proven political stability form the foundations for The Bahamas’ growing strength in finance, tourism, business and lifestyle options. There are several other important factors behind the country’s continuing development:

**Fiscal Stability** With an “A-3’ Investment grade rating from Moody’s Investor Services on sovereign debt and “A-”long-term and “A-2” short-term sovereign credit ratings from Standard & Poor’s, The Bahamas offers an inviting, sound environment for direct investment.

**Tax Neutrality** The country remains committed to its long-established tax neutral platform in which there are no income, capital gains, inheritance or payroll taxes. There is no distinction between Bahamians and non-Bahamians which means that international persons who choose to do business or to live in The Bahamas receive the same benefits that Bahamians do.

**An Independent Judiciary** The legal system of The Bahamas is modeled on the British system with complete independence from the political process. The multi-tiered Judicial System includes the Magistrates court, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The final appellate court is Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.

**Personal Privacy** Respect for personal privacy is a fundamental democratic principle in The Bahamas. While criminal activity will never be welcomed, The Bahamas, like other members of the United Nations, places the highest possible value on the legitimate defense of the personal privacy of individuals.

**Foreign Relations** The Bahamas retains excellent foreign relations with the international community. It is a member of the British Commonwealth, Organisation of American States and the United Nations. It also has observer status in the World Trade Organisation.

**Pro Business Government** The Government’s National Investment Policy supports an investment friendly climate based on a free market economy. The Bahamas Investment Authority which is part of the Ministry of Financial Services & Investments serves as a “one-stop-shop” for investors.