| Long Island |
| San Salvador |
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas consists of 700 Islands and nearly 2,500 cays. About 30 of these islands are inhabited. The capital city of Nassau is located on New Providence Island. Close by is Paradise Island which is accessed by bridges from Nassau. The nation's second city, Freeport, is located in Grand Bahama Island; the city of Lucaya is also located on Grand Bahama. The other populated islands/cays are called the Family of Out Islands. The many islands and cays of The Bahamas stretch southeast off the Florida coast, the closest Island to the U.S. is Bimini, about 55 miles off the coast of Florida. The islands and cays sprawl across nearly 100,000 square miles of ocean, beginning at the northern point east of Palm Beach, Florida and spanning practically 750 miles to the southeast where they come inside 50 miles of Cuba and Haiti.
In the 10th century, Lucayan Indians (a branch of the Arawaks) settled in The Bahamas. The Lucayans had fled the Lesser Antilles to avoid the Carib Indians, who were their enemies, astute warriors and cannibals. The Lucayan Indians were a very peaceful people, who farmed, lived in thatch huts, used stone tools and made their own pottery. They were politically, socially and religiously advanced. Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 on San Salvador (the former name of on Cat Island), he enslaved them and coupled with new diseases brought by Columbus and crew, wiped out the entire tribe within 25 years.
The Bahamas were a favored hunting ground for privateers, pirates and wreckers from the late 1600's through the early 1700's. This was largely due to the ineffective governors and the many inlets, islands, islets, shoals and channels and was a main passageway for merchant ships and Spanish Galleons.
The three main income producing areas in The Bahamas are tourism, financial/real estate (includes banking) and manufacturing/construction. The Central Bank of The Bahamas, established in 1974, is the central financial institution. The agricultural and industrial sectors are relatively smaller industries.
The government funding is mainly obtained from import tariffs/duty. There is no income tax and no substantial property tax. There are annual fees for licenses of businesses, vehicle registration and inspection fees and other important fees to assist with departmental funding.
The Bahamas became an independent nation on July 10, 1973. They are a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations and have retained the British Monarch as the head of state. The Queen of England is represented by the Governor-General of The Bahamas.
Nassau, (map) as the nations capital, is the centre of industry, commerce and communications. There remain well-preserved colonial buildings, attractions, duty free shopping, pristine beaches, wonderful cuisine and cultural activities. The Straw Market fire in 2001 has removed a world famous tourist attraction and formerly the largest centre of its type within the Caribbean.
JPEG of Print courtesy of Terry Gardiner
Close by, Paradise island which crows gorgeous beaches, luxury hotels, the largest casino within The Bahamas and first class entertainment.
Grand Bahama Island (map) is the second most industrialized and populated island. It displays miles of deserted sugar-white beaches, upscale hotels, dazzling casinos, night time entertainment, superior scuba diving facilities as well as land and sea sports. On the eastern and western ends of the Island, more serene and quaint settings are found where all can find hide-away spots. Duty-Free shopping is also a huge attraction to visiting foreigners. It offers the largest deep water container port in the Caribbean. It is also earmarked to be the site of $75 million recording and movie production studio.
The Bahamas offers many more Islands and Cays each of which is unique and has its own special personality. The Family of Out Islands offer a quiet, relaxing way of life which is a big difference from the fast-paced lifestyle on the Islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.
Andros Island (map)is the biggest of all the Islands but the most sparsely populated. It is a large bonefisherman attraction and has the world's third largest barrier reef, which is over 140 miles long. It offers superior diving and is home to Androsia Batik Many small and friendly business establishments thrive there as well as offering a home to many fisherman.
Abaco Island (map) has naturally protected waters and many cays, which make them a favourite to yachtsmen and fishing fanatics. There are excellent marinas, guides and boats for hire as well as a championship golf course in Treasure Cay. A tradition of boat crafting has been down the generations.
The Biminis (map) are recognized as one of the champion fishing areas of the world for their abundance of game fish. Championship tournaments are held there year-round.
Eleuthera (map) offers many unique and interesting settlements, each quiet. Of interest are Harbour Island with its pink sandy beaches and New England cottages. Similarly different and unique is Spanish Wells. Folks from the busier islands can really enjoy a relaxed visit anywhere in Eleuthera. It is also home to the Pineapple festival each June in Gregory Town.
The Exumas (map) are a pleasurable experience for anyone! Some of the bluest waters and appealing seascape can be found here. Because many of the Exuma cays are reached only by sea, boaters find island hopping in and around the Exumas a pleasure.
There are so many other intriguing Islands on which one can find tranquility, hospitality and serenity. The mysterious and superstitious Cat Island (map), has a claim of being Columbus' original landing site in the New World.
San Salvador (map), is also believed to be the place where Christopher Columbus first landed in the new world on October 12, 1492. The island was originally named Guanahani by its first descendants, the Lucayan Indians. The island is small but scenic and beset by superb beaches and reefs, it is an ideal place for snorkeling, diving and fishing.
Long Island (map) was the third Island to be discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. In his diary, Christopher Columbus is said to have described Long island as 60 miles long, fringed with beaches on one side and cliffs on the other. It holds excellent sites for diving and snorkeling.
Crooked island (map) has a natural beauty and possesses fair weather cruising ground. Offering several fine harbours, miles of creeks and tidal flats exceptional for tarpon and bonefishing.
Acklins Island (map) is long, narrow and hilly with numerous caves and bays along its western shore; a ferry provides transportation from Acklins Island to Crooked Island. They both are enclosed in a shallow lagoon known as the Bight of Acklins. The Bight of Acklins is a safe cruising ground for shallow-draft vessels. Inagua is the third largest island and is the southernmost in The Bahamas. It is mainly low and flat. The Morton Salt Company produces around a million pounds of salt annually from there. Inagua is also a refuge of one of the world's largest colonies of flamingoes in the world. It also offers a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
The Berry Islands (map) are a favorite of divers and big game fishermen. With approximately 700 residents this chain of islands is very sleepy. As is Ragged Island (map), boasting under 100 residents. Ragged Island is part of a long chain of islands and cays stretching from Long Island to Cuba. Another sleepy island is Mayaguana (map), which has three settlements totally just over 300 residents. It is a fisherman's paradise and has many flamingo colonies. Inagua (map) (Great and Little) further hosts an abundance of flamingo colonies.
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Date Page Last Maintained: 7 February, 2005
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