What Is the Bahamian Dollar (BSD)?

The Bahamian dollar (BSD) is the national currency of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The Bahamian dollar is made up of 100 cents and is often denoted by the symbol B$ to distinguish it from other currencies denominated in dollars. The value of the BSD is pegged on a 1-to-1 basis to the U.S. dollar (USD), with businesses in the Bahamas generally accepting either BSD or USD as legal tender.

The BSD is managed by the Central Bank of The Bahamas. Banknotes are available in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars, while coins are available in denominations ranging from 1 cent to 1 dollar. Despite being managed by the Bahamas’ central bank, the BSD is also used in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bahamian dollar (BSD) is the national currency of the Bahamas.
  • It is pegged to the USD at a rate of 1 USD per BSD.
  • The economy of the Bahamas is based largely on tourism, financial services, and specialty exports such as oceangoing vehicles.

Understanding the BSD

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a group of 700 islands of varying size in the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Cuba. Due to their location along the rich trade routes of the 18th century, the area saw frequent use by pirates. Today, the Bahamian economy relies mainly on tourism, with that sector accounting for over 60% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the country, and half of all the jobs on the island chain.

The BSD has been the official currency of the Bahamas since 1966, when it replaced the British pound (GBP) at a rate of 7 shillings per BSD. The GBP was previously used in the Bahamas because the nation had been a British colony between 1718 and 1973. Although they only formally achieved independence in 1973, the Bahamas began operating as a self-governing nation within the British Commonwealth in 1964.

The BSD’s paper banknotes depict prominent figures and scenes from the history and culture of the Bahamas. These include politicians such as the independence leader Sir Lynden O. Pindling, as well as important places such as Nassau Harbour and the headquarters of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

Real-World Example of the BSD

Although the value of the BSD is pegged to the USD, the long-term value of the BSD is ultimately reliant on the economic strength of the Bahamas. The economy of the Bahamas is known for its large tourism sector as well as its export of specialty products such as oceangoing vehicles. Financial services are also a major industry for the Bahamas, with the country serving as a major offshore banking center.

In 2016, the Bahamas became the subject of international discussion following the publication of the so-called Panama Papers. This leak of roughly 11.5 million documents showed the extent of international tax avoidance and evasion by wealthy individuals and organizations throughout the world. A similar leak took place shortly thereafter, dealing specifically with shell companies and other entities that were established through the Bahamas between 1990 and 2016. This leaked data comprised over 1.3 million files and has become known as the “Bahamas Leaks."