New Providence Island and Paradise Island are very popular tourist destinations, making tourism a top income producing industry. They are the most visited islands of all of The Bahamas.
The the population of New Providence was last reported as 172,196.
The capital of the Bahamas, Nassau, houses the parliament, Supreme Court and many government offices. Nassau exudes a cosmopolitan/urban atmosphere with the hustle bustle of big business, politics and large financial interests. This business and commerce center provides for a stiff pace in the heart of Nassau. It is located on the northeast shore of the island of New Providence. Nassau was named in 1695 for the Dutch Prince of Orange-Nassau after he took over the British throne. It was formerly named Charles Towne. Two-thirds of the nations population lives on the tiny island.
Nassau had been subject to Spanish invasions, occupation by hordes of cut-throat pirates, two military attacks by American revolutionary forces, and in World War II days it was an important military base. The colonial government was headed by the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII of Great Britain, Emperor of India.
Bay Street, the main throughway of Nassau, houses shops of all types, restaurants, banks and trusts, investment firms, realtors, off shore financial centres, a variety of other businesses, as well as the Parliament Buildings and Rawson Square. Bay Street is known for the shopping district with the row to row shops and huge straw market. After a fire burned the famous straw market to the ground in 2001 it was relocated about a block away at the waterfront.
Nassau remains quaint in many ways, with surrey rides readily available along the narrow roads from the Colonial era. From Bay Street you can access Prince George Wharf at Nassau Harbour, where you may see a parade of cruise ships. Nassau has many historical sites including Fort Charlotte named for the consort of King George III, last king of the 13 British colonies that formed the nucleus for today's United States. There are botanical gardens, a zoo and other family orientated places to spend time with the family.
Nassau has established three museums, one located in what used to be the venue for buying and selling slaves! (This museum sustained damage in the fire of 2001) Another museum tells the story of Junkanoo, the Bahamian cultural experience. A third museum, at Balcony House, is an architectural gem and is filled with Victorian antiques that recant the days of British Colonial elegance and prosperity.
Some of the best places we love are the Garden Market which is uptown and Potter's Cay. Locals area the norm and tourists rarely learn of our special marketplaces for produce, fish and conch.
JPEG of Garden Market painting courtesy of Terry Gardiner
A short trip over the bridge or a brief ride by water taxi brings you to the Internationally famous Paradise Island. Formerly know as Hog Island because that is where the farm animals were kept necessary to subsidize the settlers diet. Paradise Island has become known as the upscale recreation center, and has created a large area of employment for all Bahamians working in tourism. The world famous resort and casino, Atlantis, draws huge numbers of foreigners to Paradise Island each year. A second bridge from Nassau Harbour was built to accommodate increased traffic demands.
West of Nassau is the Cable Beach resort area. Another famous vacation spot and housing Breezes Bahamas, Sandals, Nassau Wyndham Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, and many other fine resorts on lovely beaches as well as tons of restaurants. Another area where commerce soars and employment demands are high.
To the southwest, is the South Ocean Beach resort area with many fine facilities, top rating diving operations and a world class golf course. Thus offering employment opportunities on the south side of New Providence.
Palmdale district is a very busy business area where many stores, offices and companies house main headquarters.
Nassau has long been attractive to the film industry. It offers an abundance of local services that assist film makers without the need to transport all equipment and professions to location. Several James Bond movies have been shot or partially shot in Nassau making use of local talent and professionals. In Thunderball Bahamian percussionist/congo player, singer and song write, King Errisson, was featured with his Calypso Band. King was born in Nassau and from the age of 13 to 18 was a professional jockey in New Providence and found time still to work in local clubs playing with performers. He later went on to act, and play with the likes of Neil Diamond, Barbara Striesand and Michael Jackson to name a few.
Other films having portions shot in Nassau include Never Say Never Again, Splash, Silence of the Lambs (end of movie where Hannibal Lector calls Agent Starling from Bimini), The Flipper series, Jaws, Zeus & Roxanne, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1913), Holiday in the Sun and My Father, My Lover to name a few.
Along the beach road headed west from Cable Beach are a series of caves that are believed to have been first inhabited by the Lucayans/Arawaks. Later because of the intricacy of them and the fact that they were just offshore it is recorded that the pirates favored the caves to hold up in and divide and hide their bounty. Now they are a popular adventure spot and a chair by the sea has been created to memorialize the spot.
thanks to Cindy Roy for the photo of Bay Street taken on 15 December