About the BahamasThe Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a sovereign country of over 700 islands and nearly 2,500 islets known as cays.
Considered part of the Caribbean, the archipelago of The Bahamas lies in the Atlantic Ocean, beginning east of Palm Beach, Florida and extending southeast nearly 750 miles to where Andros is within 75 miles of Cuba and Inagua is nearing both the southeastern tip of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic). The Tropic of Cancer runs through the Great Bahama Bank on the eastern side of Andros and through the Island of Great Exuma.
The majority of Bahamians live in two major population centers, the capital city of Nassau on the island of New Providence and Freeport located on Grand Bahama Island.
The other islands and cays are called the Out Islands. Approximately 30 of these Islands are inhabited. Although Andros is the largest of the Out Islands it remains one of the least populated with only 8,000 people living in small settlements scattered along the east coast.The Bahama Islands are mostly flat and were formed hundreds of centuries ago when sea levels dropped and coral reef formations became dry land. The resulting islands are made entirely of calcium carbonate deposits produced by the organisms of those coral reefs. There are no rivers and what we call creeks are actually tidal estuaries which together with the shallow shorelines are home to countless schools of bonefish.
The Bahamas is home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, lying close to the eastern shores of Andros. In fact, 5% of the world’s coral is found in the waters of The Bahamas.
Countless words have been written about the Bahamas, most of them intended to attract travelers to the bustling hotels, casinos and beaches of Nassau and Freeport. Much less has been written about the Out Islands of The Bahamas. Here the pace is slowed and people still live the way they did many years ago. Undeveloped and pristine, the Out Islands are the destination of travelers seeking something not found in the cities. Come enjoy the Bahamas that most people never see but that every fisherman should see.
History of the BahamasWhen Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492, he made his first landfall in The Bahamas. It is not clear which island he landed upon, but it is known that he did not stay for long. Columbus claimed the islands for Spain, but The Bahamas did not provide the riches that the Spanish were looking for and their interest soon waned. Before the arrival of Columbus, the peaceful Lucayan Indians had the islands entirely to themselves. All perished from disease or the hardships of enslavement.
The English claimed the region by the mid 1600s, first settling on the island of Eleuthera. They survived by farming and fishing, a way of life that continued for centuries. Nassau harbor was the homeport of pirates and buccaneers whose activities flourished until the early 1700s. Following the restoration of order by the first Royal Governor, Nassau was alternately held by the Spanish, the British, the Americans, and ceded, finally, to Great Britain in 1783.
British loyalists settled the Bahamas following the American Revolution, bringing their slaves with them. The basis of the meager economy was fishing, sponging and farming. Brief periods of prosperity during these years were the result of blockade running during the American Civil War and rum running during Prohibition.
Populations grew slowly to their current level of just over 300,000. Education was largely unavailable, especially in the Out Islands. The status of women was slow to change, with women granted the right to vote only as recently as 1961.
During their years as a British Crown Colony, Bahamians began to oppose minority rule and won control of the government in 1967. Independence was achieved in 1973. Today, the Bahamas is a sovereign nation, fully self-governing and a member of The Commonwealth of Nations.
Black majority government paved the way for the growth of the middle class through widely available education for the first time. The first generation of educated Bahamians gravitated to the professions and became doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants.
The African heritage of the Bahamian people is evident in art, music, dance and festivals. The English language is spoken throughout the islands in a lyrical dialect, laced with idioms, and varies from island to island. They are a wonderful people who are quick with a smile and hospitable to a fault.