The Bahama Banks are the submerged carbonate platforms that make up much of the Bahama Archipelago. The term is usually applied in referring to either the Great Bahama Bank around Andros Island, or the Little Bahama Bank of Grand Bahama Island and Great Abaco, which are the largest of the platforms, and the Cay Sal Bank north of Cuba. The islands of these banks are politically part of the Bahamas. Other banks are the three banks of the Turks and Caicos Islands, namely the Caicos Bank of the Caicos Islands, the bank of the Turks Islands, and wholly submerged Mouchoir Bank. Further southeast are the equally wholly submerged Silver Bank and Navidad Bank north of the Dominican Republic.
The waters of the Bahama Banks are very shallow; on the Great Bahama Bank they are generally no deeper than 25 meters. The slopes around them however, such as the border of the Tongue of the Ocean in the Great Bahama Bank, are very steep. The Banks were dry land during past ice ages, when sea level was as much as 120 meters lower than at present; the area of the Bahamas today thus represents only a small fraction of their prehistoric extent. When they were exposed to the atmosphere, their limestones were subjected to chemical weathering that created the caves and sinkholes common to karst terrain, resulting in structures like blue holes.