The Commonwealth of the Bahamas has been an independent nation since 1973. It consists of about 700 islands (only 22 of them inhabited) and numerous small cays, spread over a 1200 km stretch of ocean.
Topographic survey was initiated by the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) (now Ordnance Survey International), who began publishing a 1:25,000 series (DOS 358) from 1962. These map sheets were issued as multi-sheet sets for each island group, and the DOS completed mapping of Cat Island, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, Abaco and New Providence. The five-color maps were all on a Transverse Mercator projection (Clarke 1866 ellipsoid) with UTM grid and, where there was sufficient relief, contours at 25 ft intervals. DOS also published, in 1961-63, 11 sheets of contoured urban mapping at 1:2,500 scale covering Nassau (DOS 158).
Since 1972, topographic survey has been the responsibility of the Department of Lands and Surveys (BLS), Nassau, and mapping of all the remaining island groups was completed in the 1970s with new BLS series designations. Maps were compiled and drawn by Fairey (later Clyde) Surveys from 1967 air survey cover. The maps differ somewhat in specification from the DOS maps, and have 20 m interval contours. The maps are all at 1:25,000 scale with the exception of the Bimini Island Group, for which 1:10,000 scale maps were published. A total of 182 sheets at 1:25,000 scale and 10 at 1:10,000 are needed to give complete coverage of The Bahamas. BLS has also issued 1:10,000 scale maps of most islands. Nassau and other built-up areas have been published at 1:2,500 scale.
The BLS maps are listed in the island group series by which they were published. The most recent official mapping appears to be a large general map of the islands at 1:1,000,000 produced for BLS in 1988 by Clyde Surveys, together with a companion hydrographic chart at a slightly smaller scale. Both are on the Mercator projection.
Soviet military topographic mapping is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published 1963-1966); 1:500,000 (10 sheets, complete coverage, published 1979-1983) and 1:200,000 (43 sheets, mostly complete coverage, published 1976-1983). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
A number of resource surveys were carried out for the Bahamas Government in the 1970s by the UK Overseas Development Administration. These included an island-by-island survey of vegetation, land use/land capability and land ownership with associated maps at 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 scales, and summarized as Land resources of the Bahamas: a summary (LRS 27) published in 1976 with several 1:1,000,000 scale maps of the island group.
In 1971, the UK Directorate of Military Surveys, conducted gravity and magnetic surveys for the Bahamas Government, and these were published at 1:250,000 scale.
For up-to-date maps of the Bahamas, a number of good quality tourist maps are available. These include a 1:1,100,000 map by International Travel Maps (ITM) which includes more detailed maps of the main islands on the reverse, a Bartholomew holiday map from HarperCollins, a map by Nelles and a two-sheet map by Berndtson and Berndtson (B&B). Island Maps of Bermuda has a 1:31,680 scale map of Nassau and New Providence Island. A small road map with inset maps of major settlements is produced by Cartographers Ltd.