The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an independent English-speaking nation in the West Indies. An archipelago of 700 islands and cays (which are small islands), the Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida in the United States, north of Cuba and the Caribbean, and northwest of the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
2 Geography and climate
3 Government and politics
7 Sports and culture
8 Other prominent Bahamian-born people
9 See also
10.1 General history
10.2 Economic history
10.3 Social history
11 External links
Main article: History of the Bahamas
Christopher Columbus's first landfall in the New World in 1492 is believed to have been on the island of San Salvador (also called Watling's Island), in the southeastern Bahamas. He encountered Taino (also known as Lucayan) Amerindians and exchanged gifts with them.
Taino Indians from both northwestern Hispaniola and northeastern Cuba moved into the southern Bahamas about the 7th century AD and became the Lucayans. They appear to have settled the entire archipelago by the 12th century AD. There may have been as many as 40,000 Lucayans living in the Bahamas when Columbus arrived.
The Bahamian Lucayans were deported to Hispaniola as slaves, and within two decades Taino societies ceased to exist as a separate population due to forced labour, warfare, disease, emigration and outmarriage.
After the Lucayans were destroyed, the Bahamian islands were deserted until the arrival of English settlers from Bermuda in 1650. Known as the Eleutherian Adventurers, these people established settlements on the island now called Eleuthera (from the Greek word for freedom).
The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718 but remained sparsely settled until the newly independent United States expelled thousands of American Tories and their slaves. Many of these British Loyalists were given compensatory land grants in Canada and the Bahamas. Some 8,000 loyalists and their slaves moved to the Bahamas in the late 1700s from New York, Florida and the Carolinas.
The British granted the islands internal self-government in 1964 and, in 1973, Bahamians achieved full independence while remaining a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since the 1950s, the Bahamian economy has prospered based on the twin pillars of tourism and financial services. Despite this however the country still faces significant challenges in areas such education, healthcare, correctional facilites and violent crime and illegal immigration. The urban renewal project has been launched in recent years to help impoverished urban areas in social decline in the main islands. Today, the country enjoys the third highest per capita income in the western hemisphere.
Some say the name 'Bahamas' derives from the Spanish for "shallow sea", baja mar. Others trace it to the Lucayan word for Grand Bahama Island, ba-ha-ma ("large upper middle land").
Geography and climate
Main article: Geography of the Bahamas
The Bahamas is an archipelago of some 700 islands and cays covering over 100,000 mi� (260,000 km�) of the Atlantic Ocean between Florida and Hispaniola. The archipelago has a total land area of 5,382 square miles (13,939 km�)�about 20% larger than Jamaica�and a population of some 310,000 concentrated on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.
Map of the BahamasThe largest island is Andros Island. The Biminis are just 50 miles (80 km) east of Florida. The island of Grand Bahama is home to the second largest city in the country, Freeport. The island of Abaco is to its east. The most southeastern island is Inagua. Other notable islands include Eleuthera, Cat Island, San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana. Nassau is the capital and largest city, located on New Providence. The islands have a subtropical climate, moderated by the Gulf Stream.
In the southeast, the Caicos Islands and the Turks islands, and three more extensive submarine features called Mouchoir Bank, Silver Bank, and Navidad Bank, are geographically a continuation of the Bahamas, but not part of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew hit the northern islands in 1992, and Hurricane Floyd hit most of the islands in 1999. Hurricane Frances of 2004 was expected to be the worst ever for the islands. Also in 2004, the northern Bahamas were hit by a less potent Hurricane Jeanne. In 2005 the northern islands were once again struck this time by Hurricane Wilma. Tidal surges and high winds destroyed homes, schools, floated graves and made roughly 1,000 people homeless.
Government and politics
More comprehensive information on politics and government of the Bahamas can be found at the Politics and government of the Bahamas series.
The Bahamas is an independent country and Commonwealth Realm. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom. The system of government is parliamentary representative democratic monarchy.
The Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament.
The party system is dominated by the liberal Progressive Liberal Party and the conservative Free National Movement.
Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. The Bahamas is a member of the eastern Caribbean court system. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English common law.
Main article: Districts of the Bahamas
The districts of the Bahamas provide a system of local government everywhere in the Bahamas except New Providence, whose affairs are handled directly by the central government. The current system dates from 1996 when 23 districts were defined�a further 8 were added in 1999. Gained suffrage in 2000; with 140,000 registered voters.
Main article: Economy of the Bahamas
The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs almost half of the archipelago's labour force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences have led to solid GDP growth in recent years.
Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the United States, the source of the majority of tourist visitors.
Not everyone has benefitted from the prosperity of recent years; unemployment remains at 10%. The poverty rate of 9% however, is low compared to other Caribbean countries.
Main article: Demographics of the Bahamas
Most of the Bahamian population is black at about 85%. The next largest population group are whites at 12%. Other minorities include Asians and Hispanics at 3%. Many Bahamian whites are concentrated on Abaco Island, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, Long Island, and the Montagu Bay district of New Providence (just to the east of Nassau). There is also a significant number of non-citizen white expatriates from the United States and Europe.
The official language is English, spoken by nearly all inhabitants, though many speak a patois form of it. A considerable number of immigrants also speak Haitian Creole, Spanish and Portuguese.
A strongly religious country, there are more places of worship per person in the Bahamas than any other nation in the world. Christianity is the main religion on the islands, with Baptist forming the largest denomination (about one third), followed by the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
A few people, especially in the southern and eastern islands, practice Obeah, a spiritistic religion similar to Voodoo. While well-known throughout the Bahamas, obeah is shunned by many people. Voodoo is practiced, but almost exclusively by the large number of immigrants from Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
Sports and culture
See also: Culture of the Bahamas
Bahamian culture is a hybrid of African, European and indigenous forms. Perhaps its most famous export is a rhythmic form of music called junkanoo. Music is an important form of expression in The Bahamas. Aside from the Junkanoo, there are various other indigenous forms of music such, as rake and scrape and calypso, and a unique form of hymnal, known internationally through the music of Joseph Spence, now deceased. Marching bands are also an important part of life. They play at funerals (when the community will march with the casket of the deceased from church to graveyard), at weddings, and the brass section is one of the most important contingents of the Junkanoo.
In the "family islands", crafts such as hand-made silver-top palm baskets are woven. Some of these baskets can hold water. This material, commonly called "straw" is also plaited into hats and bags, today mainly to sell to tourists.
Regatta is an important event, each "family island" having their own. A sail boat race on old fashioned sloops takes place, as well as a festival. Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area,such as "pineapple fest" in Gregory Town, Eleuthera and "crab fest" in Andros. Other significant traditions include story telling and the practice of Obeah.
Cricket is the National Sport of The Bahamas. Other sports include Track and Field, soccer, basketball, netball, and various other American and British sports.
The Bahamas has sent athletes to several Summer Olympic Games. The best performance for this nation is a gold medal individual performance by Tonique Williams-Darling in the Womens' 400m event held in Athens, Greece 2004. She has also won a gold medal in the 400 meters at 2005 World Championships in Athletics. At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, despite being the favourite, she was unexpectedly beaten both in her semi-final and the final by Christine Ohuruogu of England, claiming silver instead.
The Bahamas has also won a Womens' 4x100m silver and gold medal at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 games respectively. The team of Savatheda Fynes, Eldece Clark-Lewis, Debbie Ferguson, Chandra Sturrup, and Pauline Davis-Thompson took home the medals. Ferguson also silver medalled in the 200m event in 2000, and captured bronze in the same event in 2004.
The Bahamas has also won other medals in other events as well, including the team of Christopher Brown, Avard Moncur, Nathaniel McKinney, and Andrae Williams, who claimed silver in the Men's 4x400m event at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, 2005.
Rick Fox, a famous basketball player, was born to a Bahamian parent.
Other prominent Bahamian-born people
Sidney Poitier, actor
Shakara Ledard, model/actress
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row fame, singer/musician
Jimmy Curry aka James Curry, writer/producer/director/editor
Tongue of the Ocean, a geological phenomenon
Communications in the Bahamas
Foreign relations of the Bahamas
Military of the Bahamas
Transport in the Bahamas
Postage stamps and postal history of the Bahamas
The Scout Association of the Bahamas
Cash Philip et al. (Don Maples, Alison Packer). The Making of the Bahamas: A History for Schools. London: Collins, 1978.
Albury, Paul. The Story of The Bahamas. London: MacMillan Caribbean, 1975.
Miller, Hubert W. The Colonization of the Bahamas, 1647�1670, The William and Mary Quarterly 2 no.1 (Jan 1945): 33�46.
Craton, Michael. A History of the Bahamas. London: Collins, 1962.
Craton, Michael and Saunders, Gail. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992.
Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas in Slavery and Freedom. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishing, 1991.
Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas from Slavery to Servitude, 1783�1933. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1996.
Storr, Virgil H. Enterprising Slaves and Master Pirates: Understanding Economic Life in the Bahamas. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.
Johnson, Wittington B. Race Relations in the Bahamas, 1784�1834: The Nonviolent Transformation from a Slave to a Free Society. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 2000.
Shirley, Paul. "Tek Force Wid Force," History Today 54, no. 41 (April 2004): 30�35.
Saunders, Gail. The Social Life in the Bahamas 1880s�1920s. Nassau: Media Publishing, 1996.
Saunders, Gail. Bahamas Society After Emancipation. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishing, 1990.
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Official website for Bahamas government
UK Bahamas Tourist Office
French Bahamas Tourist Office
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
The Bahamas Constitution
Bahamian Studies Online
(German) Photogallery (with slide show)
Photographs of the Bahamas - Abaco islands, including Junkanoo festival
Map of the Bahamas Island Chain
Countries in the Caribbean
Independent nations: Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago
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� member of the community but not the CARICOM (Caribbean) Single Market and Economy.
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Categories: Bahamas | Caribbean countries | Monarchies | North Atlantic Islands | Members of the Commonwealth of Nations | Island nations | CARICOM member states | 1973 establishments | English speaking countries
In 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the Western Hemisphere in The Bahamas. He encountered friendly Arawak Indians and exchanged gifts with them.
Spanish slave traders later captured native Lucayan Indians to work in gold mines in Hispaniola, and within 25 years, all Lucayans perished. Without a source of slaves, the Spanish did not bother to colonize the islands. In 1647 during the time of the English Civil War, a group of Puritan religious refugees from the royalist colony of Bermuda, the Eleutheran Adventurers, founded the first permanent European settlement in The Bahamas and gave Eleuthera Island its name. Similar groups of settlers formed governments in The Bahamas, but the isolated cays sheltered pirates and wreckers through the 17th century. Charles II granted land in the Bahamas to the Lords proprietors of Carolina, but the islands were left entirely to themselves. After Charles Town was destroyed by a joint French and Spanish fleet in 1703, the local pirates proclaimed an anarchic 'Privateers' Republic' with Edward Teach� better known as Blackbeard� for chief magistrate.
But when the islands became a British Crown Colony in 1717, the first Royal Governor, a reformed pirate named Woodes Rogers, brought law and order to The Bahamas in 1718, when he expelled the buccaneers who had used the islands as hideouts. During the American War of Independence the Bahamas fell to Spanish forces under General Galvez in 1782. After the American Revolution the British government issued land grants to a group of British Loyalists, and the sparse population of The Bahamas tripled in a few years. The planters thought to grow cotton, but the limy soil was unsuited, and the plantations soon failed. Many of the current inhabitants are descended from the slave population brought to work on the Loyalist plantations. When the U.K. outlawed the slave trade in 1807, the Royal Navy began intercepting ships and depositing freed slaves in The Bahamas. Plantation life was finished after the emancipation of remaining slaves in 1834.
During the American Civil War, The Bahamas prospered as a center of Confederate blockade-running, bringing out cotton for the mills of England and running in arms and munitions. After World War I, the islands served as a base for American rumrunners. During World War II, the Allies centered their flight training and antisubmarine operations for the Caribbean in The Bahamas. Since Havana closed to American tourists in 1961, The Bahamas has developed into a major tourist resort and at the same time the establishment of Freeport as a free trade zone (1955) developed an off-shore financial services center with a reputation for a tolerant atmosphere.
Bahamians achieved self-government through a series of constitutional and political steps, attaining internal self-government in 1964 and full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations on July 10, 1973.
When Europeans first arrived, they reported the Bahamas were lushly forested. The forests were cleared during plantation days and have not regrown.
Andros Island is the largest island of the Bahamas at roughly 2300 square miles (6,000 km�) in area and 104 miles (167 km) long and 40 miles (64 km) wide at its widest point. The island has the world's third largest barrier reef, which is over 140 miles long.
The Spanish landed on Andros in 1550 in search of slaves, in the process wiping out the indigenous Lucayan people both by violence and disease. The island was given the name �Espiritu Santo,� the Island of the Holy Spirit, by the Spanish, but is also called San Andreas on a 1782 map. The modern name is believed to be in honour of Sir Edmund Andros, Commander of Her Majesty�s Forces in Barbados in 1672 and Governor successively of New York, Massachusetts, and New England. It is also believed that the island could have been named after the inhabitants of St. Andro Island (St. Andrew or San Andr�s) on the Mosquito Coast as 1,400 of them settled in Andros in 1787.
During the 1700s pirates occupied the island. Loyalists and their slaves also settled in Andros in the late 18th Century.
Andros has a population of over six thousand and has the fewest people per unit area of all of the Bahamas. Most of these people live on the east coast of the island in the three major towns on the island; Nicholl's Town, Congo Town, and Andros Town.
The island is filled with natural beauty. It has the second largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere and the third largest in the world, at one hundred and forty miles (225 km) long, and has a drop off of over six thousand feet (1.8 km). The water above the reef averages twelve feet (4 m) deep. There are more than forty square miles (104 km�) of rainforest area and the swamp land that is inhabited by more than 50 species of orchids. Andros is actually made up of two different islands adjoined by these deep swamp lands. Two hundred different types of birds are native to the island.
Unlike most of the Bahamian islands, Andros's interior has been largely free of commercial development for the tourism industry, preserving much of its natural beauty. Current Bahamian tourism efforts refer to it as the least-explored island in the chain. 
Much fresh water comes from this island, with about seven thousand US gallons (26 m�) of fresh water being shipped to Nassau a day. Andros has thousands of kilometres of fresh water rivers that come from rain water collected in the many caves in the island's interior.
Andros Island draws thousands of visitors every year. Anglers come from all over the world to fish there. It is said to be "the bonefish capital of the world". Divers come to explore the great reef and all of its coral formations and marine life. There are many hotels and resorts on the island.
Androsia is manufactured in Andros. Androsia is the local type of clothing for the Bahamian people, usually in bright vibrant colors. It is also home of the Bahama Lumber Company which provides all of the Bahamas with lumber for its development.
Andros is also the home of the fabled Chickcharnie, what some believe to be an extinct species of flightless owls.
Andros is hit by a hurricane on average every two and a half years.
Bimini (bĭm�ə�nē) is a district of the Bahamas comprised of a chain of islands, the largest islands are: North Bimini and South Bimini. North Bimini is about seven miles (11 km) long and 700 feet (210 m) wide; its main settlement is Alice Town, a collection of shops, restaurants, and bars surrounding a single road known as "The King's Highway." South Bimini houses an airstrip and two hotels, and offers a quiet alternative to the slow bustle of North Bimini.
Bimini is located about 50 miles (80 km) east of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the mainland United States.
The island is best known for fishing, and the surrounding ocean is considered by many to be one of the world's top fishing spots. Because Bimini is only about 50 miles (80 km) east of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, many American anglers go to the island by boat to fish, or to enjoy the local nightlife. Scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular activities, as there are many shipwrecks in the area.
Bimini became better known to more Americans when Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. spent much of the time during which he was expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives (January 1967 to April 1969) in self-imposed exile on Bimini.
1 Mysteries of Bimini
1.1 The Bimini Road
1.2 The Fountain of Youth
1.3 The Healing Hole
2 Bimini Facts
Mysteries of Bimini
Bimini is home to several landmarks said to contain mystical properties of abstruse origins. Much of the historical data known of these places is speculative in nature, and experts in various fields have opined across the full spectrum of explanation. The most contentious of these sites is The Bimini Road.
The Bimini Road
The Bimini RoadBetween 1930 and 1940, American clairvoyant Edgar Cayce stated in a well documented prediction that remnants of the Lost City of Atlantis would be found off the coast of Bimini in 1968 or 1969. In September of 1968, the half-mile of precisely aligned limestone blocks that compose what is now called "The Bimini Road" were discovered offshore of Paradise Point on North Bimini. After ten underwater archeological expeditions beginning in 1974, historian Dr. David Zink is convinced that the stones are megalithic in nature and were placed by humans. Gavin Menzies, author of 1421: The Year China Discovered America, believes they might be the creations of shipwrecked Chinese voyagers. Others say that they are the result of dredging, tidal fluctuations or sea deposits called beach rock. Whether these stones are in fact proof of a lost civilization, the work of stranded sailors or merely a natural geological formation has yet to be determined.
The Fountain of Youth
Facts about Juan Ponce de Le�n and his search for the Fountain of Youth are as elusive as the mythical regenerative spring itself. Whether it was the Arawak or their relatives the Taino Indians who relayed the story to de Le�n is unclear, but both versions of the story claim that the natives spoke of a land called "Beemeenee" where the fountain could be found. Though de Le�n's expedition brought him to Florida, the fountain was rumored to exist within the shallow pools of South Bimini.
The Healing Hole
Found within the salt water mangrove forest that covers four miles of North Bimini is The Healing Hole, a pool that lies at the end of a network of tunnels that stretch byzantine-like underground. During outgoing tides these channels pump cool, mineral-laden fresh water into the pool. Natural lithium and sulfur are two of the minerals said to be contained in these waters, which seem to exhibit curative properties as people express a sense of mental and physical rejuvenation after their visit.
During the period of Prohibition in the United States, Bimini was a favorite haven and supply point for the rum-running trade.
A 500 lb. Blue Marlin caught off the coast of Bimini inspired Ernest Hemingway to write The Old Man and the Sea.
The last scene of the film The Silence of the Lambs (1991) takes place at the airport of South Bimini.
Chalk's Ocean Airways Flight 101 was enroute to Bimini when it crashed on December 19, 2005; at least eleven of the passengers were Bimini residents.
The 1921 Ted Lewis Song "Bimini Bay" is about the island of Bimini and its 1920's night life.
On Dec 31st 2005 one of the most famous bars in Bimini, The Compleat Angler burned to the ground in a raging fire. The bar is best remembered for the photographs of Ernest Hemingway that once lined its walls; these photos were lost in the fire.
Freeport is a city and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama, located approximately 100 mi (160 km) east-northeast of Fort Lauderdale, South Florida and gives its name to a district of the Bahamas. Freeport proper has 26,910 people.
In 1955, Wallace Groves,mother a Virginian financier with lumber interests on the island, was granted 50,000 acres (200 km�) of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government. On this was built the city of Freeport, which has grown to be the second most populated city in The Bahamas (26,910 in 2000) after the capital, Nassau.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) operates the free trade zone, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement signed in August of 1955 whereby the Bahamian Government agreed that businesses in the Freeport area will pay no taxes before 2054. The area of the land grants has been increased to 138,000 acres (558 km�).
Freeport Harbour is accessible by even the largest vessels, and has a cruise terminal, a container port, and both a private yacht and ship maintenance facility. Grand Bahama International Airport (IATA airport code: FPO, ICAO airport code: MYGF) handles nearly 50,000 flights each year.
Tourism complements trade as a revenue earner in Freeport, with over a million visitors each year. Much of the tourist industry is displaced to the seaside suburb of Lucaya, owing its name (but little else) to the pre-Columbian Lucayan inhabitants of the island. The city is often promoted as 'Freeport / Lucaya'.
The Abaco islands lie in the northern Bahamas and comprise the main islands of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, together with the smaller Wood Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana Cay, Gorda Cay, Elbow Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Stranger's Cay, Umbrella Cay, Walker's Cay and Mores Island.
As was also the case at Cat Island, the first European settlers were Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, who arrived in 1783.
The islands are a noted base for sailing activities in the Bahamas as well as resort tourism.
The combined population is about 13,000 and the principal settlement and capital is Marsh Harbour. The red and white striped lighthouse at Hope Town is a noted local landmark. Coopers Town has 900 residents.
The ethnic make up is about 50% white and 50% black.(bahamas.com)
Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave tells that, before the 1970s, a group of American businessmen, arms traffickers, supporters of free enterprise, a black agent of the information services, and a MP of the British House of Lords planned the independence of Abaco. Or, in another version, it would have a U.K. dependency status similar to that of Anguilla. They would promise one acre (4,000 m�) to each of the natives on the island. This would have left thousands of acres for realtors and their financial backers. At least one flag was designed, combining the Hope Town Lighthouse with a Union Jack. Abaco would end as a utopia for businessmen fearing socialism. The British government had no interest in this scheme, which in any case would have been strongly opposed by the legitimate national government in Nassau. Finally, the locals did not support the plan, perhaps because unspoken racial issues are alleged to have mixed into it. In any event, the Abaco Independence Movement seems to have died a peaceful death around 1975.
Inagua is the southernmost district of the Bahamas comprising the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua.
Great Inagua is the third largest island in the Bahamas at 596 sq mi (1544 sq km) and lies about 55 miles (90 km) from the eastern tip of Cuba. The island is about 55 x 19 miles (90 x 30 km) in extent, the highest point being 108 ft (33 m) on East Hill. It encloses several lakes, most notably the 12-mile long Lake Windsor which occupies nearly 1/4 of the interior. The population of Great Inagua is 969 (2000 census).
The island's capital and only harbour is Matthew Town, named after George Matthew a 19th century Governor of the Bahamas. This town houses the Morton Salt Company�s main facility, producing 500 tonnes of sea salt a year - the second largest solar saline operation in North America and Inagua's main industry. Great Inagua Airport (IATA: IGA, ICAO: MYIG) is located nearby.
There is a large bird sanctuary in the centre of the island with a population of more than 80,000 of West Indian flamingoes and many other exotic birds such as roseate spoonbills, pelicans, herons, egrets, and Bahama pintail ducks.
The neighbouring Little Inagua to the northeast is uninhabited and occupied by a Land and Sea Park.
The original settler name Heneagua was derived from a Spanish expression meaning 'water is to be found there'. Another interesting name origin is that it's an anagram of 'iguana', which is found in large quantities on the island (this from the Bahamas official website).
Eleuthera is an island in the Bahamas, lying 50 miles (80 km) east of Nassau. It is very long and thin�110 miles (180 km) long and in places little more than a mile wide. The population is 8,000 (2000 census). The name "Eleuthera" is derived from the Greek word for "freedom."
The original population of Taino, or Arawaks, was mostly deported by the Spanish to work in the mines of Hispaniola, where they died out by 1550. The island is believed to have been unoccupied until the first European settlers�puritan pilgrims- arrived in 1648 from Bermuda. These settlers, known as the 'Eleutherian Adventurers,' gave the island its current name, meaning 'freedom' in Greek. Some people think that Chistopher Columbus may have come to Eleuthera before any other islands in the West Indies.
The island was quite prosperous in the period from 1950 to 1980, attracting several prominent American industrialists such as Arthur Vining Davis, Henry Kaiser, and Juan Tripp. Frequent visitors included movie stars like Robert DeNiro as well as The Prince of Wales and a pregnant Princess of Wales.
Due to changes in foreign ownership policy with The Bahamas becoming independent in 1973, all of the large resorts and agricultural businesses were abandoned or compelled to be sold to government-favored Bahamian interests. Because of the strain of a newly forming country, some businesses failed during the period 1980 to 1985. Today, several abandoned resorts dot the island, including the Rock Sound Club, Club Med at Governor's Harbor, and the Cape Eleuthera Resort.
Of the resorts in present-day Eleuthera, most are located on offshore Harbour Island, although a few resorts remain on the mainland. Since around 2004, there has been renewed interest in Eleuthera. As of 2006, several developments are slated for construction on the mainland, including a $300 million Bahamian owned resort at Cotton Bay and a new, smaller development at Powell Point (now 'Powell Pointe'), Cape Eleuthera.
While offshore Harbour Island and Spanish Wells offer unique experiences, the main island is a destination for those interested in history and nature. Natural attractions include the Glass Window Bridge, Hatchet Bay caves and Surfer's Beach in the north, and Ocean Hole and Lighthouse Beach at the south end. For history buffs, Preacher's Cave on the north end was home to the Eleutherian Adventurers in the mid-17th century and recent excavations have uncovered Arawak remains at the site.
The principal settlements are Governor's Harbour (the administrative capital), Rock Sound, Tarpum Bay (the last remaining fishing village) Harbour Island with its unusual pink sandy beaches, and Spanish Wells. The island is particularly noted for the excellence of its pineapples and holds an annual Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town.
South of Deep Creek, the Cape Eleuthera Foundation, founded by Chris Maxey of New Jersey's elite Lawrenceville School, is making a name for the Cape as a research destination. Under the auspices of the CEF, a semester-abroad program for high school sophomores and juniors is offered at their Island School campus [see link below], and college research opportunities are available through the Cape Eleuthera Institute, which recently unveiled the first solar panel-mainstream grid intertie in the Bahamas.
Cat Island is one of the central Bahamas, and one of its districts, and boasts the nation's highest point. Its Mount Alvernia rises to 206 ft (63 m) and is topped by a monastery called The Hermitage.
The first European settlers were Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, who arrived in 1783. The island may have been named after Arthur Catt, a pirate, or the name may refer to its one-time large population of feral cats.
Historically, the island gained wealth from cotton plantations, but slash and burn farming is now the main way of life for Cat Islanders. An economic crop is cascarilla bark, which is gathered and shipped to Italy where it becomes a main ingredient in medicines, scents and Campari.
The population of Cat Island is 1,647 (2000 census). The main settlements are Arthur�s Town (childhood home of Sidney Poitier), Orange Creek, and Port Howe.
Until written accounts were found, Cat Island was thought to be Guanahani, the first island Christopher Columbus reached when he discovered the Americas.
San Salvador Island, also known as Watling Island, is an island and district of the Bahamas. Until 1986, when the National Geographic Society suggested Samana Cay, it was widely believed that during his first expedition to the New World, San Salvador Island was the first land sighted and visited by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492. Columbus's records indicate that the native inhabitants of the territory where he landed called the island Guanahani.
The British gained control of what are now The Bahamas in the early 1700s. For some time, San Salvador was the home of the buccaneer John Watling (alternately referred to as George Watling), who gave the island its alternative name by which it was officially known until 1925. At that time, the name "San Salvador" was transferred from another place, now called Cat Island, and given to "Watling Island" under the belief that it seemed a much more likely match for Columbus's description of Guanahani.
Today, thanks to its many sandy beaches, the island's prosperous main industry is tourism. About 1,000 people reside on San Salvador Island and its principal community is Cockburn Town, the seat of local government and home of a public teacher's college.
The Bahamian Field Station (BFS) is located on the north end of the island on the shores of Graham's Harbour. Hundreds of students and researchers every year use the station as a base of operations from which to study tropical marine geology, biology, and archaeology.
Acklins is an island and district of the Bahamas.
It is one of a group of islands lying in a shallow lagoon called the Bight of Acklins, of which the largest are Crooked Island in the north and Acklins in the south-east, and the smaller are Long Cay (once known as Fortune Island) in the north-west, and Castle Island in the south.
The islands were settled by American Loyalists in the late 1780's who set cotton plantations employing over 1,000 slaves. After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire these became uneconomical, and the replacement income from sponge diving has now dwindled as well. The inhabitants now live by fishing and small-scale farming.
The main town in the group is Colonel Hill on Crooked Island. Albert Town, on Long Cay, now sparsely populated, was once a prosperous little town. It was engaged in the sponge and salt industries and also served as a transfer port for stevedores seeking work on passing ships.
The population of Acklins was 428, and Crooked Island 350, at the 2000 census.
It is believed that first Post Office in the Bahamas was at Pitt�s Town on Crooked Island.
Crooked Island is an island and district of the Bahamas.
It is one of a group of islands lying in a shallow lagoon called the Bight of Acklins, of which the largest are Crooked Island in the north and Acklins in the south-east, and the smaller are Long Cay (once known as Fortune Island) in the north-west, and Castle Island in the south.
The islands were settled by American Loyalists in the late 1780s who set cotton plantations employing over 1,000 slaves. After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire these became uneconomical, and the replacement income from sponge diving has now dwindled as well. The inhabitants now live by fishing and small-scale farming.
The main town in the group is Colonel Hill on Crooked Island.
The population of Crooked Island was 350 at the 2000 census.
It is believed that first Post Office in the Bahamas was at Pitt�s Town on Crooked Island.
Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands (or cays). The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi (60 km) in length. The largest city in the district is George Town (permanent population 1,000), founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the city. The entire island chain is 130 mi (209 km) long and 27 sq. mi (72 sq. km) in area.
Exuma was settled in or around 1783 by American loyalists fleeing the Revolutionary War. The expatriates brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands. George Town was named in honor of George III, to whom the settlers maintained their sovereignty.
Lord John Rolle, a major Loyalist settler of the Exumas, is a major figure in the islands' heritage. Upon his death in 1835, he bestowed all of his significant Exuma land holdings to his slaves. As a result, a number of towns on Great Exuma have been named after him (such as Rolleville and Rolletown).
The islands are a popular spot for yachting, sailing, diving, and coral reef and cave exploring. Much of the unnamed beaches and coves of the island, including extensive offshore reef areas, are part of the protected Exuma National Land and Sea Park of the Bahamas National Trust. Some of the islands on which there are permanent residents and resorts include Staniel Cay (home of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a fixture in the Exumas), Fowl Cay, and Iguana Cay. Thunderball Grotto, located just a few hundred yards off Staniel Cay, is one location where the James Bond film Thunderball was filmed.
The Exumas are the historic home of the Lucayan Indians, who were wholly enslaved in the 1500s, leaving the islands uninhabited until the 1700s. In the intervening period, the Exumas provided many hideouts and stashes for pirates.
Mayaguana is the most easterly island and district of the Bahamas, and one of only two of which retain their Arawak names.
The largest settlement is Abraham�s Bay on the south coast, other settlements are Betsy Bay in the east and Pirate�s Well in the north.
Mayaguana has never seen major development, being only settled gradually after 1812 by people from the Turks and Caicos Islands. The population of Mayaguana in the 2000 census was 259.
The Brazilian historian Antonio Varnhagen suggested in 1824 that Mayaguana is Guanahani, the first island visited by Christopher Columbus at his discovery of the Americas. His theory has found little support.
Mayaguana Island was uninhabited until 1812, when people began to migrate from the nearby Turks Islands. Located 60 miles north of Inagua, Mayaguana Island is a popular stopover for yachtsmen on a direct route to the Caribbean.
Mayaguana Island is home to 312 locals and the Bahama Hutia -- a cross between a rat and a rabbit that was thought to be extinct until the mid-1960s. Most people make a living fishing and farming the fertile soil of this woody terrain. The main form of communication on Mayaguana Island is the mailboat which transports the mail once a week.
Get out in the sun and enjoy peaceful beaches surrounded by a spectacular diving reef. And if you want to check out the local life, visit the shops, bars and restaurants in the three main settlements -- Abraham's Bay, Betsy Bay and Pirate's Well.
Nassau is the capital city of the Bahamas. It is the commercial and cultural centre of the Bahamas, and with a population of 180,000, its largest city.
Located on New Providence island at 25�4′N 77�20′W, Nassau has an attractive harbour and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural beauty of the Bahamas has made Nassau a popular tourist destination, with a reputation for relaxing days and an exciting nightlife.
Nassau was founded by the British in the mid-17th century as Charles Towne, but it was renamed to Nassau after William III of Orange-Nassau in 1695. During the 18th century, it was a popular hideaway for pirates of the Caribbean, notably Blackbeard. Nassau was subjected to numerous attempted invasions by the Spanish during the late 18th century, and in 1776 it was captured and briefly held by American revolutionaries.
Nassau International Airport, the major airport for the Bahamas, is located in Nassau, and has daily flights to major cities in the USA, Canada, the UK, and the Caribbean.
New Providence is the most populous island in the Bahamas.
While the first European visitors to the Bahama Islands were Bermudian salt rakers gathering sea salt in Grand Turk and Inagua after 1670, the first lasting occupation was on Eleuthera and then New Providence shortly thereafter. The attraction of New Providence was one of the best sheltered natural small vessel harbors in the West Indies.
Because of the harbor, and near adjacency to the Florida Strait, New Providence became a nest of pirates preying on mainly Spanish shipping returning to Spain with gold, silver, and other wealth. The apex of piratical activity there was from 1715 to 1725, after which the British government established a formal colony and military headquarters centered on the small city of Nassau fronting the New Providence harbor.
New Providence in the American Revolution
In February 1776, Esek Hopkins led a squadron of over 7 ships in an effort to raid the British-held island in order to secure supplies and munitions. On March 3, Hopkins landed the first-ever amphibious assault by American military forces consisting of 250 marines and sailors. Under the covering fire of Providence (12) and Hornet (10), the attackers overwhelmed Fort Montagne. The British retreated to Fort Nassau, but then surrendered to Continental forces. The Americans managed to secure 88 cannon and 15 mortars, but most of the madly desired gunpowder was evacuated before capture. Hopkins spent two weeks loading his ships with the booty before finally returning home
After the American Revolution, several thousand Tories and their slaves emigrated to New Providence and nearby islands, hoping to re-establish plantation agriculture. The shallow soils and sparse rainfall doomed this activity to failure, and by the early 19th century the Bahamas had become a nearly vacant archipelago. Salt raking continued here and there, wreck gleaning was profitable in Grand Bahama, but New Providence was the only island with any prosperity because of the large British military establishment. The fortresses began to crumble and were abandoned by 1850. New Providence had two periods of high economic success during the American Civil War and during Prohibition, when it was a smuggling center.
Since 1960, New Providence has become an American vacation destination with many tourist facilities, including deepened harbor for short visit cruise ship visitors and hotels featuring gambling activity. Two-thirds of the 300,000 Bahamians live on New Providence, although this proportion has fallen somewhat with the development of Freeport on Grand Bahama.
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