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The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the
Lucayan Archipelago The Lucayan Archipelago (named for the original native Lucayan people), also known as the Bahama Archipelago, is an island group comprising the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the British Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands. T ...
of the
West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of North America, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea that includes 13 independent island country, island countries and 18 dependent territory, dependencies and other ter ...
in the Atlantic. It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago's population. The
archipelagic stateAn archipelagic state is a designation used for island country, island countries that consist of an archipelago. The designation is legally defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In various conferences, The Bahamas, Fiji, In ...
consists of more than 700
island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerry, skerries, cays or keys. ...

island
s,
cay A cay ( or ), also spelled caye or key, is a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef. Cays occur in tropical environments throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans (including in the Caribbean The Caribbean ...
s, and
islet An islet is a very small island. Most definitions are not precise, but some suggest that an islet has little or no vegetation, and cannot support human habitation. They may be made of rock, sand, and/or coral, may be permanent or tidal, and ma ...

islet
s in the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
, and is located north of
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf ...
and northwest of the island of
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin language, Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti/ quisqueya) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West I ...
(split between
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ); french: Haïti ; officially the Republic of Haiti (; ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jam ...

Haiti
and the
Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, República Dominicana, ) is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with ...
) and the
Turks and Caicos Islands The Turks and Caicos Islands (abbreviated TCI; and ) are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago of the Atlantic Ocean and nor ...
, southeast of the
America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all ...
n state of
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Georg ...

Florida
, and east of the
Florida Keys The Florida Keys are a coral island, coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida, forming the southernmost part of the continental United States. They begin at the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula, about south of ...
. The capital is
Nassau
Nassau
on the island of
New Providence New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It is the location of the national capital city of Nassau, Bahamas, Nassau, whose boundaries are coincident with the island; it had a ...
. The
Royal Bahamas Defence Force The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) is the military of The Bahamas. Since The Bahamas does not have an army or an air force, its navy composes the entirety of its armed forces. Under The Defence Act, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has been m ...
describes The Bahamas' territory as encompassing of ocean space. The Bahama Islands were inhabited by the
Lucayans The Lucayan () people were the original residents of the Bahamas before the European colonization of the Americas, European conquest of the Americas. They were a branch of the Tainos who inhabited most of the Caribbean islands at the time. The Lucay ...
, a branch of the
Arawakan Arawakan (''Arahuacan, Maipuran Arawakan, "mainstream" Arawakan, Arawakan proper''), also known as Maipurean (also ''Maipuran, Maipureano, Maipúre''), is a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, i ...
-
speaking Speech is human vocal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, groups through the use of sufficiently mutua ...
Taíno The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cub ...
, for many centuries.
Columbus Columbus is a Latinized version of the Italian surname "''Colombo Colombo ( si, කොළඹ, translit=Kolamba, ; ta, கொழும்பு, translit=Kozhumpu, ) is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ...

Columbus
was the first European to see the islands, making his first landfall in the "
New World The "New World" is a Eurocentrism, eurocultural term applied to the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford Univ ...
" in 1492. Later, the
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...

Spanish
shipped the native Lucayans to and enslaved them on
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin language, Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti/ quisqueya) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West I ...
, after which the Bahama islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648, when
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
colonists from
Bermuda ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song_type = , song = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , mapsize2 = , map_caption2 = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = United Kingdom The United Kin ...
settled on the island of
Eleuthera Eleuthera () refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the ...

Eleuthera
. The Bahamas became a
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependenc ...

British
crown colony A Crown colony or royal colony was a colony administered by The Crown within the British Empire. There was usually a Governor#United Kingdom overseas territories, Governor, appointed by the monarch of the UK on the advice of the ''Home'' (UK) Gov ...
in 1718, when the British clamped down on
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted ...

piracy
. After the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colonia ...
, the Crown resettled thousands of
American Loyalists Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the The Crown, British Crown during the American Revolutionary War, often referred to as Tories, Royalists or King's Men at the time. They were opposed by the Patriot (American Revolution) ...
to the Bahamas; they took enslaved people with them and established
plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, opium, sisal, oil seeds, oil pa ...

plantation
s on land grants. African enslaved people and their descendants constituted the majority of the population from this period on. The slave trade was abolished by the British in 1807; slavery in the Bahamas was abolished in 1834. Subsequently, the Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves. Africans liberated from illegal slave ships were resettled on the islands by the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and int ...
, while some North American slaves and
Seminole The Seminole are a Native Americans in the United States, Native American people who developed in Florida in the 18th century. Today, they live in Oklahoma and Florida, and comprise three federally recognized tribes: the Seminole Nation of Oklahom ...
s escaped to the Bahamas from Florida. Bahamians were even known to recognise the freedom of enslaved people carried by the ships of other nations which reached the Bahamas. Today Afro-Bahamians make up 90% of the population of 332,634. The country gained governmental independence in 1973 led by Sir Lynden O. Pindling, with
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke of York, Duke and Duchess of York (later Kin ...

Elizabeth II
as its queen. In terms of
gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, GDP (nominal) per capita does not, however, reflect ...
per capita, The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' ...

Americas
(following the United States and Canada), with an economy based on tourism and offshore finance.Country Comparison :: GDP – per capita (PPP)
CIA World Factbook.


Etymology

The name ''Bahamas'' is derived from the Lucayan name ' ('large upper middle island'), used by the indigenous
Taíno The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cub ...
people for the island of
Grand Bahama Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of Nort ...
. Tourist guides often state that the name comes from the
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...

Spanish
' ('shallow sea'). Wolfgang Ahrens of
York University York University (french: Université York) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a differen ...
argues that this is a
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familia ...
. Alternatively, it may originate from ', a local name of unclear meaning. First attested on the 1523 Turin Map, ''Bahama'' originally referred to Grand Bahama alone but was used inclusively in English by 1670. Toponymist
Isaac Taylor Isaac Taylor (17 August 1787 – 28 June 1865) was an English philosophical and historical writer, artist, and inventor. Life He was the eldest surviving son of Isaac Taylor of Chipping Ongar, Ongar. He was born at Lavenham, Suffolk, on 17 Augu ...
argues that the name was derived from ''Bimani'' (
Bimini Bimini is the westernmost district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, seve ...

Bimini
), which Spaniards in Haiti identified with Palombe, a legendary place where
John Mandeville Sir John Mandeville is the supposed author of ''The Travels of Sir John Mandeville'', a travel memoir which first circulated between 1357 and 1371. The earliest surviving text is in French. By aid of translations into many other languages, the w ...
's ''Travels'' said there was a
fountain of youth The Fountain of Youth is a mythical spring that restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted around the world for thousands of years, appearing in the writings of Herodotus He ...

fountain of youth
. The word ''The'' constitutes an integral part of the short form of the name and is, therefore, capitalised. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the country's fundamental law, capitalises the "T" in "The Bahamas".


History


Pre-colonial era

The first inhabitants of the Bahamas were the Taino people, who moved into the uninhabited southern islands from
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin language, Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti/ quisqueya) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West I ...
and
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf ...
around the 800s–1000s AD, having migrated there from South America; they came to be known as the
Lucayan people The Lucayan () people were the original residents of the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of Nor ...
. An estimated 30,000 Lucayans inhabited the Bahamas at the time of
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian ...

Christopher Columbus
's arrival in 1492.


Arrival of the Spanish

Columbus's first landfall in what was to Europeans a "New World" was on an island he named San Salvador (known to the Lucayans as ''
Guanahani Guanahaní is an island in the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of North America, surrounded by ...
''). Whilst there is a general consensus that this island lay within the Bahamas, precisely which island Columbus landed on is a matter of scholarly debate. Some researchers believe the site to be present-day
San Salvador Island San Salvador Island (known as Watling's Island from the 1680s until 1925) is an island and district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "d ...
(formerly known as Watling's Island), situated in the southeastern Bahamas, whilst an alternative theory holds that Columbus landed to the southeast on Samana Cay, according to calculations made in 1986 by ''
National Geographic ''National Geographic'' (formerly the ''National Geographic Magazine'', sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is the long-lived official monthly magazine of the National Geographic Society. It is one of the most widely read magazines of all time. Ove ...
'' writer and editor
Joseph Judge Joseph Judge (February 4, 1928 -- April 20, 1996) was a writer and editor for ''National Geographic'' magazine, retiring as Senior Associate Editor in 1990 after 25 years of service. Early life Judge was born in Washington, D.C. His parents were ...
, based on Columbus's log. On the landfall island, Columbus made first contact with the Lucayans and exchanged goods with them, claiming the islands for the
Crown of Castile The Crown of Castile was a medieval polity in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Kingdom of Castile, Castile and King ...

Crown of Castile
, before proceeding to explore the larger isles of the
Greater Antilles The Greater Antilles ( es, Grandes Antillas or Antillas Mayores; french: Grandes Antilles ht, Gwo Zantiy jam, Grieta hAntiliiz) is a grouping of the larger islands in the Caribbean Sea, including Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the ...

Greater Antilles
. The 1494
Treaty of Tordesillas The Treaty of Tordesillas, ; pt, Tratado de Tordesilhas . signed in Tordesillas, Spain on June 7, 1494, and authenticated in Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly-discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire The Portuguese ...

Treaty of Tordesillas
theoretically divided the new territories between the
Kingdom of Castile The Kingdom of Castile (; es, Reino de Castilla, la, Regnum Castellae) was a large and powerful state on the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an ...
and the
Kingdom of Portugal The Kingdom of Portugal ( la, Regnum Portugalliae, pt, Reino de Portugal) was a Portuguese monarchy, monarchy on the western part of Iberian Peninsula and the predecessor of the modern Portuguese Republic. Existing to various extents between 11 ...
, placing the Bahamas in the Spanish sphere; however they did little to press their claim on the ground. The Spanish did however exploit the native Lucayan peoples, many of whom were enslaved and sent to Hispaniola for use as forced labour. The slaves suffered harsh conditions and most died from contracting
diseases A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Diseases are often known to be medical conditions that ar ...
to which they had no
immunity Immunity may refer to: Medicine * Immunity (medical), resistance of an organism to infection or disease * Immunity (journal), ''Immunity'' (journal), a scientific journal published by Cell Press Biology * Immune system Engineering * Radiofrequ ...
; half of the Taino died from
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious a ...

smallpox
alone. As a result of these depredations the population of the Bahamas was severely diminished.


Arrival of the English

The English had expressed an interest in the Bahamas as early as 1629. However, it was not until 1648 that the first English settlers arrived on the islands. Known as the Eleutherian Adventurers and led by
William Sayle Captain William Sayle (c. 1590–1671) was a prominent British landholder who was Governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national ...
, they migrated from
Bermuda ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song_type = , song = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , mapsize2 = , map_caption2 = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = United Kingdom The United Kin ...
seeking greater religious freedom. These English
Puritans The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jes ...
established the first permanent European settlement on an island which they named
Eleuthera Eleuthera () refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the ...

Eleuthera
, Greek for ''freedom''. They later settled
New Providence New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It is the location of the national capital city of Nassau, Bahamas, Nassau, whose boundaries are coincident with the island; it had a ...
, naming it Sayle's Island. Life proved harder than envisaged however, and many – including Sayle – chose to return to Bermuda. To survive, the remaining settlers salvaged goods from wrecks. In 1670, granted the islands to the Lords Proprietors of the
Carolinas The Carolinas are the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It c ...
in North America. They rented the islands from the king with rights of trading, tax, appointing
governors A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (p ...
, and administering the country from their base on New Providence. Piracy and attacks from hostile foreign powers were a constant threat. In 1684, Spanish privateer, corsair Juan de Alcon Raid on Charles Town, raided the capital Charles Town (later renamed ),Mancke/Carole Shammas, Shammas p. 255 and in 1703, a joint Franco-Spanish expedition Raid on Nassau, briefly occupied Nassau during the War of the Spanish Succession.Marley (2005), p. 7.Marley (1998), p. 226.


18th century

During proprietary rule, the Bahamas became a haven for Piracy, pirates, including Blackbeard (''circa'' 1680–1718). To put an end to the "Pirates' republic" and restore orderly government, Britain made the Bahamas a British overseas territories, crown colony in 1718, which they dubbed "the Bahama islands" under the royal governorship of Woodes Rogers. After a difficult struggle, he succeeded in suppressing piracy. In 1720, the Raid on Nassau (1720), Spanish attacked Nassau during the War of the Quadruple Alliance. In 1729, a local assembly was established giving a degree of self-governance for British settlers.Dwight C. Hart (2004) ''The Bahamian parliament, 1729–2004: Commemorating the 275th anniversary'' Jones Publications, p4 The reforms had been planned by the previous Governor George Phenney and authorised in July 1728. During the American War of Independence in the late 18th century, the islands became a target for US naval forces. Under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins, United States Marine Corps, US Marines, the US Navy occupied Nassau in 1776, before being evacuated a few days later. In 1782 a Spanish fleet appeared off the coast of Nassau, and the city Capture of The Bahamas (1782), surrendered without a fight. Later, in April 1783, on a visit made by Prince William of the United Kingdom (later to become William IV of Great Britain, King William IV) to Luis de Unzaga at his residence in the Captaincy General of Havana, they made prisoner exchange agreements and also dealt with the preliminaries of the Treaty of Paris (1783), in which the recently conquered Bahamas would be exchanged for Spanish Florida, East Florida, which would still have to conquer the city of St. Augustine, Florida in 1784 by order of Luis de Unzaga; after that, also in 1784, the Bahamas would be declared a British colony. After US independence, the British resettled some 7,300 Loyalist (American Revolution), Loyalists with their African slaves in the Bahamas, including 2,000 from New York and at least 1,033 European, 2,214 African ancestrals and a few Native American Creek people, Creeks from East Florida. Most of the refugees resettled from New York had fled from other colonies, including West Florida, which the Spanish captured during the war. The government granted land to the planters to help compensate for losses on the continent. These Loyalists, who included Deveaux and also Lord Dunmore, established plantations on several islands and became a political force in the capital. European Americans were outnumbered by the African-American slaves they brought with them, and ethnic Europeans remained a minority in the territory.


19th century

The Slave Trade Act 1807 abolished slave trading to British possessions, including the Bahamas. The United Kingdom pressured other slave-trading countries to also abolish slave-trading, and gave the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and int ...
the right to intercept ships carrying slaves on the high seas. Thousands of Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy were resettled in the Bahamas. In the 1820s during the period of the Seminole Wars in Florida, hundreds of North American slaves and African Seminoles escaped from Cape Florida to the Bahamas. They settled mostly on northwest Andros Island, where they developed the village of Red Bays. From eyewitness accounts, 300 escaped in a mass flight in 1823, aided by Bahamians in 27 sloops, with others using canoes for the journey. This was commemorated in 2004 by a large sign at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park."Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park"
''Network to Freedom'', National Park Service, 2010, accessed 10 April 2013
Some of their descendants in Red Bays continue African Seminole traditions in basket making and grave marking. In 1818, the Home Office in London had ruled that "any slave brought to the Bahamas from outside the British West Indies would be manumitted." This led to a total of nearly 300 enslaved people owned by US nationals being freed from 1830 to 1835.#Horne, Horne, p. 103 The American slave ships ''Comet'' and ''Encomium'' used in the United States domestic coastwise slave trade, were wrecked off Abaco Island in December 1830 and February 1834, respectively. When wreckers took the masters, passengers and slaves into Nassau, customs officers seized the slaves and British colonial officials freed them, over the protests of the Americans. There were 165 slaves on the ''Comet'' and 48 on the ''Encomium''. The United Kingdom finally paid an indemnity to the United States in those two cases in 1855, under the Treaty of Claims of 1853, which settled several compensation cases between the two countries. Register of Debates in Congress, Gales & Seaton
1837, The section, "Brigs Encomium and Enterprise", has a collection of lengthy correspondence between US (including M. Van Buren), Vail, the US chargé d'affaires in London, and British agents, including Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, Lord Palmerston, sent to the Senate on 13 February 1837, by President Andrew Jackson, as part of the continuing process of seeking compensation.
Slavery was Slavery Abolition Act 1833, abolished in the British Empire on 1 August 1834. After that British colonial officials freed 78 North American slaves from the ''Enterprise (slave ship), Enterprise'', which went into Bermuda in 1835; and 38 from the ''Hermosa'', which wrecked off Abaco Island in 1840. The most notable case was that of the ''Creole case, Creole'' in 1841: as a result of a slave revolt on board, the leaders ordered the US brig to Nassau. It was carrying 135 slaves from Virginia destined for sale in New Orleans. The Bahamian officials freed the 128 slaves who chose to stay in the islands. The ''Creole'' case has been described as the "most successful slave revolt in U.S. history". These incidents, in which a total of 447 enslaved people belonging to US nationals were freed from 1830 to 1842, increased tension between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom. They had been co-operating in patrols to suppress the international slave trade. However, worried about the stability of its large domestic slave trade and its value, the United States argued that the United Kingdom should not treat its domestic ships that came to its colonial ports under duress as part of the international trade. The United States worried that the success of the ''Creole'' slaves in gaining freedom would encourage more slave revolts on merchant ships. During the American Civil War of the 1860s, the islands briefly prospered as a focus for blockade runners aiding the Confederate States.


Early 20th century

The early decades of the 20th century were ones of hardship for many Bahamians, characterised by a stagnant economy and widespread poverty. Many eked out a living via subsistence agriculture or fishing. In August 1940, the Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. He arrived in the colony with his Wallis Simpson, wife. Although disheartened at the condition of Government House, they "tried to make the best of a bad situation".#Higham, Higham, pp. 300–302 He did not enjoy the position, and referred to the islands as "a third-class British colony". He opened the small local parliament on 29 October 1940. The couple visited the "Out Islands" that November, on Axel Wenner-Gren's yacht, which caused controversy;#Higham, Higham, pp. 307–309 the British Foreign Office strenuously objected because they had been advised by United States intelligence that Wenner-Gren was a close friend of the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring of Nazi Germany. The Duke was praised at the time for his efforts to combat poverty on the islands. A 1991 biography by Philip Ziegler, however, described him as contemptuous of the Bahamians and other non-European peoples of the Empire. He was praised for his resolution of civil unrest over low wages in in June 1942, when there was a "full-scale riot".#Higham, Higham, pp. 331–332 Ziegler said that the Duke blamed the trouble on "mischief makers – communists" and "men of Central European Jewish descent, who had secured jobs as a pretext for obtaining a deferment of draft".Philip Ziegler, Ziegler, Philip (1991). ''King Edward VIII: The Official Biography''. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. . pp. 471–472 The Duke resigned from the post on 16 March 1945.Colin Matthew, Matthew, H. C. G. (September 2004; online edition January 2008
"Edward VIII, later Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor (1894–1972)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'', Oxford University Press, , retrieved 1 May 2010 (Subscription required)
#Higham, Higham, p. 359 places the date of his resignation as 15 March, and that he left on 5 April.


Post-Second World War

Modern political development began after the Second World War. The first political parties were formed in the 1950s, split broadly along ethnic lines, with the United Bahamian Party (UBP) representing the English-descended Bahamians (known informally as the "Bay Street Boys") and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) representing the Afro-Bahamian majority. A new constitution granting the Bahamas internal autonomy went into effect on 7 January 1964, with Chief Minister Sir Roland Symonette of the UBP becoming the first Premier.Nohlen, D. (2005), ''Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I'' In 1967, Lynden Pindling of the PLP became the first black Premier of the Bahamian colony; in 1968, the title of the position was changed to Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Prime Minister. In 1968, Pindling announced that the Bahamas would seek full independence. A new constitution giving the Bahamas increased control over its own affairs was adopted in 1968. In 1971, the UBP merged with a disaffected faction of the PLP to form a new party, the Free National Movement (FNM), a de-racialised, centre-right party which aimed to counter the growing power of Pindling's PLP. The British House of Lords voted to give The Bahamas its independence on 22 June 1973. Prince Charles delivered the official documents to Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, officially declaring The Bahamas a fully independent nation on 10 July 1973, and this date is now celebrated as the country's List of national independence days, Independence Day. It joined the Commonwealth of Nations on the same day. Sir Milo Butler was appointed the first Governor-General of The Bahamas, governor-general of The Bahamas (the official representative of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II) shortly after independence.


Post-independence

Shortly after independence, The Bahamas joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on 22 August 1973, and later the United Nations on 18 September 1973. Politically, the first two decades were dominated by Pindling's PLP, who went on to win a string of electoral victories. Allegations of corruption, links with drug cartels and financial malfeasance within the Bahamian government failed to dent Pindling's popularity. Meanwhile, the economy underwent a dramatic growth period fuelled by the twin pillars of tourism and offshore finance, significantly raising the standard of living on the islands. The Bahamas' booming economy led to it becoming a beacon for immigrants, most notably from
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ); french: Haïti ; officially the Republic of Haiti (; ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jam ...

Haiti
. 1992 Bahamian general election, In 1992, Pindling was unseated by Hubert Ingraham of the FNM. Ingraham went on to win the 1997 Bahamian general election, before being defeated 2002 Bahamian general election, in 2002, when the PLP returned to power under Perry Christie. Ingraham returned to power from 2007 to 2012, followed by Christie again from 2012 to 2017. With economic growth faltering, Bahamians re-elected the FNM in 2017, with Hubert Minnis becoming the fourth prime minister. In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian struck the Abaco Islands and
Grand Bahama Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of Nort ...
at Saffir–Simpson scale#Category 5, Category 5 intensity, devastating the northwestern Bahamas. The storm inflicted at least United States dollar, US$7 billion in damages and killed more than 50 people, with 1,300 people still missing. In September 2021, the ruling Free National Movement lost to the opposition Progressive Liberal Party in a snap 2021 Bahamian general election, election, as the economy struggles to recover from its deepest crash since at least 1971. Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won 32 of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly. Free National Movement (FNM), led by Minnis, took the remaining seats. On 17 September 2021, the chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Philip Davis (Bahamian politician), Phillip “Brave” Davis was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Bahamas, Prime Minister of Bahamas to succeed Hubert Minnis.


Geography

The Bahamas consists of a List of islands of The Bahamas, chain of islands spread out over some in the , located to the east of
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Georg ...

Florida
in the United States, north of
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf ...
and
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin language, Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti/ quisqueya) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West I ...
and west of the British Overseas Territory of the
Turks and Caicos Islands The Turks and Caicos Islands (abbreviated TCI; and ) are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago of the Atlantic Ocean and nor ...
(with which it forms the Lucayan archipelago). It lies between latitudes 20th parallel north, 20° and 28th parallel north, 28°N, and longitudes 72nd meridian west, 72° and 80th meridian west, 80°W and straddles the Tropic of Cancer. There are some 700 islands and 2,400 cays in total (of which 30 are inhabited) with a total land area of . , capital city of The Bahamas, lies on the island of
New Providence New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It is the location of the national capital city of Nassau, Bahamas, Nassau, whose boundaries are coincident with the island; it had a ...
; the other main inhabited islands are
Grand Bahama Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of Nort ...
,
Eleuthera Eleuthera () refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the ...

Eleuthera
, Cat Island, Bahamas, Cat Island, Rum Cay, Long Island, Bahamas, Long Island,
San Salvador Island San Salvador Island (known as Watling's Island from the 1680s until 1925) is an island and district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "d ...
, Ragged Island, Bahamas, Ragged Island, Acklins, Crooked Island (Bahamas), Crooked Island, Exuma, Berry Islands, Mayaguana, the
Bimini Bimini is the westernmost district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, seve ...

Bimini
islands, Great Abaco and Great Inagua. The largest island is Andros, Bahamas, Andros. All the islands are low and flat, with ridges that usually rise no more than . The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia (formerly Como Hill) on Cat Island at . The country contains three terrestrial ecoregions: Bahamian dry forests, Bahamian pine mosaic, and Bahamian mangroves. It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.35/10, ranking it 44th globally out of 172 countries.


Climate

According to the Köppen climate classification, the climate of The Bahamas is mostly tropical savannah climate or ''Aw'', with a hot and wet season and a warm and dry season. The low latitude, warm tropical Gulf Stream, and low elevation give The Bahamas a warm and winterless climate. As with most tropical climates, seasonal rainfall follows the sun, and summer is the wettest season. There is only a difference between the warmest month and coolest month in most of the Bahama islands. Every few decades low temperatures can fall below for a few hours when a severe cold outbreak comes down from the North American mainland, however there has never been a frost or freeze recorded in the Bahamian Islands. Only once in recorded history has snow been seen in the air anywhere in The Bahamas, this occurred in Freeport on 19 January 1977, when snow mixed with rain was seen in the air for a short time. The Bahamas are often sunny and dry for long periods of time, and average more than 3,000 hours or 340 days of sunlight annually. Much of the natural vegetation is tropical scrub and cactus and succulents are common in landscapes. Tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally impact The Bahamas. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew passed over the northern portions of the islands, and Hurricane Floyd passed near the eastern portions of the islands in 1999. Hurricane Dorian of 2019 passed over the archipelago at destructive Saffir–Simpson scale, Category 5 strength with sustained winds of and wind gusts up to , becoming the strongest tropical cyclone on record to impact the northwestern islands of Grand Bahama and Great Abaco.


Geology

The Bahamas is part of the
Lucayan Archipelago The Lucayan Archipelago (named for the original native Lucayan people), also known as the Bahama Archipelago, is an island group comprising the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the British Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands. T ...
, which continues into the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Mouchoir Bank, the Silver Bank, and the Navidad Bank. The Bahamas Platform, which includes The Bahamas, Southern Florida, Northern Cuba, the Turks and Caicos, and the Blake Plateau, formed about 150 megaannum, Ma, not long after the formation of the North Atlantic. The thick limestones, which predominate in The Bahamas, date back to the Cretaceous. These limestones would have been deposited in shallow seas, assumed to be a stretched and thinned portion of the North American Plate, North American continental crust. Sediments were forming at about the same rate as the crust below was sinking due to the added weight. Thus, the entire area consisted of a large marine plain with some islands. Then, at about 80 Ma, the area became flooded by the Gulf Stream. This resulted in the drowning of the Blake Plateau, the separation of The Bahamas from Cuba and Florida, the separation of the southeastern Bahamas into separate banks, the creation of the Cay Sal Bank, plus the Bahama Banks, Little and Great Bahama Banks. Sedimentation from the "carbonate factory" of each bank, or atoll, continues today at the rate of about per kyr. Coral reefs form the "retaining walls" of these atolls, within which oolites and pellets (petrology), pellets form. Coral growth was greater through the Tertiary (geology), Tertiary, until the start of the ice ages, and hence those deposits are more abundant below a depth of . In fact, an ancient extinct reef exists half a km seaward of the present one, below sea level. Oolites form when oceanic water penetrate the shallow banks, increasing the temperature about and the salinity by 0.5 per cent. Cementation (geology), Cemented ooids are referred to as grapestone. Additionally, giant stromatolites are found off the Exuma Cays. Sea level changes resulted in a drop in sea level, causing wind blown oolite to form sand dunes with distinct cross-bedding. Overlapping dunes form oolitic ridges, which become rapidly lithified through the action of rainwater, called eolianite. Most islands have ridges ranging from , though Cat Island has a ridge in height. The land between ridges is conducive to the formation of lakes and swamps. Solution weathering of the limestone results in a "Bahamian Karst" topography. This includes pothole (geology), potholes, blue holes such as Dean's Blue Hole, sinkholes, beachrock such as the Bimini Road ("pavements of Atlantis"), caliche, limestone crust, caves due to the lack of rivers, and sea caves. Several blue holes are aligned along the South Andros fault (geology), Fault line. Tidal flats and tidal creeks are common, but the more impressive drainage patterns are formed by troughs and canyons such as Great Bahama Canyon with the evidence of turbidity currents and turbidite deposition. The stratigraphy of the islands consists of the Middle Pleistocene Owl's Hole formation (geology), Formation, overlain by the Late Pleistocene Grotto Beach Formation, and then the Holocene Rice Bay Formation. However, these units are not necessarily stacked on top of each other but can be located laterally. The oldest formation, Owl's Hole, is capped by a terra rossa (soil), terra rosa paleosoil, as is the Grotto Beach, unless eroded. The Grotto Beach Formation is the most widespread.


Government and politics

The Bahamas is a Parliamentary system, parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with the queen of the Bahamas (
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke of York, Duke and Duchess of York (later Kin ...

Elizabeth II
) as head of state represented locally by a List of Governors-General of the Bahamas, governor-general. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of England and the Westminster system. The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and personal union, shares its head of state with other Commonwealth realms. The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, prime minister is the head of government and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas, House of Assembly. Executive (government), Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet, selected by the prime minister and drawn from his supporters in the House of Assembly. The current governor-general is The Honourable Cornelius A. Smith, and the current List of heads of government of the Bahamas, prime minister is The Honourable, The Hon. Philip "Brave" Davis, Philip Davis Member of Parliament, MP. Legislature, Legislative power is vested in a bicameralism, bicameral parliament, which consists of a 38-member House of Assembly (the lower house), with members elected from Plurality voting system, single-member districts, and a 16-member Parliament of The Bahamas#Senate, Senate, with members appointed by the governor-general, including nine on the advice of the Prime Minister, four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and three on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. As under the Westminster system, the prime minister may dissolve Parliament and call a general election at any time within a five-year term. Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, Freedom of the press, press, Freedom of religion, worship, Freedom of movement, movement and Freedom of association, association. The Judiciary of the Bahamas is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English law.


Political culture

The Bahamas has a two-party system dominated by the centre-left Progressive Liberal Party and the centre-right Free National Movement. A handful of other political parties have been unable to win election to parliament; these have included the Bahamas Democratic Movement, the Coalition for Democratic Reform, Bahamian Nationalist Party and the Democratic National Alliance (Bahamas), Democratic National Alliance.


Foreign relations

The Bahamas has strong bilateral relationships with the United States and the United Kingdom, represented by an ambassador in Washington, D.C., Washington and High Commissioner in London. The Bahamas also associates closely with other nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The embassy of the United States in Nassau donated $3.6 million to the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Reconstruction for modular shelters, medical evacuation boats, and construction materials. The donation was made 2 weeks after the one year anniversary of ‘Hurricane Dorian’.


Armed forces

The Bahamian military is the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), the navy of The Bahamas which includes a land unit called Commando Squadron (Regiment) and an Air Wing (Air Force). Under the Defence Act, the RBDF has been mandated, in the name of the Elizabeth II of The Bahamas, Queen, to defend The Bahamas, protect its territorial integrity, patrol its waters, provide assistance and relief in times of disaster, maintain order in conjunction with the law enforcement agencies of The Bahamas, and carry out any such duties as determined by the National Security Council. The Defence Force is also a member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom, CARICOM)'s Regional Security Task Force. The RBDF came into existence on 31 March 1980. Its duties include defending The Bahamas, stopping Illegal drug trade, drug smuggling, illegal immigration and poaching, and providing assistance to mariners. The Defence Force has a fleet of 26 coastal and inshore patrol craft along with 3 aircraft and over 1,100 personnel including 65 officers and 74 women.


Administrative divisions

The districts of The Bahamas provide a system of local government everywhere except
New Providence New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It is the location of the national capital city of Nassau, Bahamas, Nassau, whose boundaries are coincident with the island; it had a ...
(which holds 70 percent of the national population), whose affairs are handled directly by the central government. In 1996, the Bahamian Parliament passed the "Local Government Act" to facilitate the establishment of family island administrators, local government districts, local district councillors and local town committees for the various island communities. The overall goal of this act is to allow the various elected leaders to govern and oversee the affairs of their respective districts without the interference of the central government. In total, there are 32 districts, with elections being held every five years. There are 110 councillors and 281 town committee members elected to represent the various districts. Each councillor or town committee member is responsible for the proper use of public funds for the maintenance and development of their constituency. The districts other than New Providence are:


National flag

The Bahamian flag was adopted in 1973. Its colours symbolise the strength of the Bahamian people; its design reflects aspects of the natural environment (sun and sea) and economic and social development. The flag is a black equilateral triangle against the mast, superimposed on a horizontal background made up of three equal stripes of aquamarine, gold and aquamarine.


Coat of arms

The coat of arms of The Bahamas contains a shield with the national symbols as its focal point. The shield is supported by a marlin and a flamingo, which are the national animals of The Bahamas. The flamingo is located on the land, and the marlin on the sea, indicating the geography of the islands. On top of the shield is a conch shell, which represents the varied marine life of the island chain. The conch shell rests on a helmet. Below this is the actual shield, the main symbol of which is a ship representing the ''Santa Maria (ship), Santa María'' of Christopher Columbus, shown sailing beneath the sun. Along the bottom, below the shield appears a banner upon which is the national motto:
''"Forward, Upward, Onward Together."''


National flower

The national flower of The Bahamas is the Tecoma stans, yellow elder, as it is endemic to the Bahama islands and it blooms throughout the year. Selection of the yellow elder over many other flowers was made through the combined popular vote of members of all four of New Providence's garden clubs of the 1970s—the Nassau Garden Club, the Carver Garden Club, the International Garden Club and the YWCA Garden Club. They reasoned that other flowers grown there—such as the bougainvillea, hibiscus and Delonix regia, poinciana—had already been chosen as the national flowers of other countries. The yellow elder, on the other hand, was unclaimed by other countries (although it is now also the national flower of the United States Virgin Islands) and also the yellow elder is native to the family islands.


Economy

By the terms of Lists of countries by GDP per capita, GDP per capita, The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' ...

Americas
. Its currency (the Bahamian dollar) is kept at a 1-to-1 currency peg, peg with the US dollar.


Tourism

The Bahamas relies heavily on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for about 50% of the Bahamian GDP, but also provides jobs for about half of the country's workforce. The Bahamas attracted 5.8 million visitors in 2012, more than 70% of whom were cruise visitors.


Financial services

After tourism, the next most important economic sector is banking and Offshore financial centre, offshore international financial services, accounting for some 15% of GDP. It was revealed in the Panama Papers that The Bahamas is the jurisdiction with the most offshore entities or companies in the world. The economy has a very competitive tax regime (classified by some as a tax haven). The government derives its revenue from import tariffs, VAT, licence fees, property and stamp taxes, but there is no income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, or wealth tax. Payroll taxes fund social insurance benefits and amount to 3.9% paid by the employee and 5.9% paid by the employer. In 2010, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 17.2%.Bahamas, The
CIA World Factbook.


Agriculture, natural resources, and manufacturing

Agriculture and manufacturing form the third largest sector of the Bahamian economy, representing 5–7% of total GDP. An estimated 80% of the Bahamian food supply is imported. Major crops include onions, okra, tomatoes, Orange (fruit), oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers, sugar cane, lemons, Lime (fruit), limes, and sweet potatoes. Access to biocapacity in the Bahamas is much higher than world average. In 2016, the Bahamas had 9.2 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, much more than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In 2016 the Bahamas used 3.7 global hectares of biocapacity per person - their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use less biocapacity than the Bahamas contains. As a result, the Bahamas is running a biocapacity reserve.


Demographics

The Bahamas has an estimated population of , of which 25.9% are 14 or under, 67.2% 15 to 64 and 6.9% over 65. It has a population growth rate of 0.925% (2010), with a birth rate of 17.81/1,000 population, death rate of 9.35/1,000, and net migration rate of −2.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population. The infant mortality rate is 23.21 deaths/1,000 live births. Residents have a life expectancy at birth of 69.87 years: 73.49 years for females, 66.32 years for males. The total fertility rate is 2.0 children born/woman (2010). The most populous islands are
New Providence New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It is the location of the national capital city of Nassau, Bahamas, Nassau, whose boundaries are coincident with the island; it had a ...
, where , the capital and largest city, is located; and
Grand Bahama Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of Nort ...
, home to the second largest city of Freeport, Bahamas, Freeport.


Racial and ethnic groups

According to the 99% response rate obtained from the race question on the 2010 Census questionnaire, 90.6% of the population identified themselves as being Afro-Bahamians, Black, 4.7% White Bahamians, White and 2.1% of a Mixed ethnicity, Mixed (African and European). Three centuries prior, in 1722 when the first official census of The Bahamas was taken, 74% of the population was native European and 26% native African. Since the colonial era of plantations, African diaspora, Africans or Afro-Bahamians have been the largest ethnic group in The Bahamas, whose primary ancestry was based in West Africa. The first Africans to arrive to The Bahamas were freed slaves from
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; they arrived with the Eleutheran Adventurers looking for new lives. The Haitians, Haitian community in The Bahamas is also largely of African descent and numbers about 80,000. Due to an extremely high immigration of Haitians to The Bahamas, the Bahamian government started deporting illegal Haitian immigrants to their homeland in late 2014. The white Bahamian population are mainly the descendants of the Puritan, English Puritans and Loyalist (American Revolution), American Loyalists escaping the Revolutionary War (United States), American Revolution who arrived in 1649 and 1783, respectively. Many Southern Loyalists went to the Abaco Islands, half of whose population was of European descent as of 1985. The term ''white'' is usually used to identify Bahamians with Anglo ancestry, as well as some light-skinned Afro-Bahamians. Sometimes Bahamians use the term ''Conch (people), Conchy Joe'' to describe people of Anglo descent. A small portion of the Euro-Bahamian population are Greek Bahamians, descended from Greece, Greek labourers who came to help develop the sponging industry in the 1900s. They make up less than 2% of the nation's population, but have still preserved their distinct Greek Bahamians, Greek Bahamian culture. The Afro-Bahamian community sometimes use the term Conchy Joe or Conky Joe to describe people of Anglo descent. Generally, however, Bahamians self identify as white or black along the lines similar to the distinction made in the US.


Religion

The islands' population is predominantly Christians, Christian. Protestant denominations collectively account for more than 70% of the population, with Baptists representing 35% of the population, Anglicans 15%, Pentecostals 8%, Church of God (Holiness), Church of God 5%, Seventh-day Adventists 5% and Methodists 4%. There is also a significant Roman Catholic community accounting for about 14%.United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Bahamas: International Religious Freedom Report 2008
Jews in the Bahamas have a history dating back to the Cristopher Columbus, Columbus expeditions, where Luis De Torres, an interpreter and member of Columbus' party, is believed to have been secretly Jewish. Today, there is a small community with about 200 members, according to census data, although higher estimates place this figure at 300. Muslims also have a minority presence. While some slaves and free Africans in the colonial era were Muslim, the religion was eradicated until around the 1970s, when it experienced a revival. Today, there are about 300 Muslims. There are also smaller communities of Baháʼí Faith, Baháʼís, Hindus, Rastafarians and practitioners of traditional African religions such as Obeah.


Languages

The official language of The Bahamas is English. Many people speak an English-based creole languages, English-based creole language called ''Bahamian dialect'' (known simply as "dialect") or "Bahamianese". Laurente Gibbs, a Bahamian writer and actor, was the first to coin the latter name in a poem and has since promoted its usage. Both are used as wikt:autoglossonym, autoglossonyms. Haitian Creole, a French-based creole languages, French-based creole language is spoken by Haitians and their descendants, who make up of about 25% of the total population. It is known simply as ''Creole'' to differentiate it from Bahamian English.


Culture

The culture of the islands is a mixture of African (Afro-Bahamians being the largest ethnicity), British (as the former colonial power) and American (as the dominant country in the region and source of most tourists). A form of African-based folk magic (obeah) is practised by some Bahamians, mainly in the Family Islands (out-islands) of The Bahamas. The practice of obeah is illegal in The Bahamas and punishable in law. In the less developed outer islands (or Family Islands), handicrafts include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called "straw", is plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items. Another use is for so-called "Voodoo dolls", even though such dolls are the result of foreign influences and not based in historic fact. Junkanoo is a traditional Afro-Bahamian street parade of 'rushing', music, dance and art held in Nassau (and a few other settlements) every Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Junkanoo is also used to celebrate other holidays and events such as Emancipation Day. Regattas are important social events in many family island settlements. They usually feature one or more days of sailing by old-fashioned Boat, work boats, as well as an onshore festival. Many dishes are associated with Bahamian cuisine, which reflects Caribbean, African and European influences. Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the "Pineapple Fest" in Gregory Town,
Eleuthera Eleuthera () refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the ...

Eleuthera
or the "Crab Fest" on Andros. Other significant traditions include story telling. Bahamians have created a rich literature of poetry, short stories, plays and short fictional works. Common themes in these works are (1) an awareness of change, (2) a striving for sophistication, (3) a search for identity, (4) nostalgia for the old ways and (5) an appreciation of beauty. Some major writers are Susan Wallace, Percival Miller, Robert Johnson, Raymond Brown, O.M. Smith, William Johnson, Eddie Minnis and Winston Saunders. Bahamas culture is rich with beliefs, traditions, folklore and legend. The best-known folklore and legends in The Bahamas include the lusca and chickcharney creatures of Andros, Pretty Molly on Exuma Bahamas and the Lost City of Atlantis on Bimini Bahamas.


Sport

Sport is a significant part of Bahamian culture. The national sport is cricket. Cricket has been played in The Bahamas from 1846, the oldest sport being played in the country today. The Bahamas Cricket Association was formed in 1936, and from the 1940s to the 1970s, cricket was played amongst many Bahamians. Bahamas is not a part of the West Indies Cricket Board, so players are not eligible to play for the West Indies cricket team. The late 1970s saw the game begin to decline in the country as teachers, who had previously come from the United Kingdom with a passion for cricket, were replaced by teachers who had been trained in the United States. The Bahamian physical education teachers had no knowledge of the game and instead taught track and field, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and Association football where primary and high schools compete against each other. Today cricket is still enjoyed by a few locals and immigrants in the country, usually from Jamaica, Guyana,
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ); french: Haïti ; officially the Republic of Haiti (; ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jam ...

Haiti
and Barbados. Cricket is played on Saturdays and Sundays at Windsor Park and Haynes Oval. The only other sporting event that began before cricket was horse racing, which started in 1796. The most popular spectator sports are those imported from the United States, such as basketball, American football, and baseball, rather than from the British Isles, due to the country's close proximity to the United States, unlike their other Caribbean counterparts, where cricket, Rugby football, rugby, and netball have proven to be more popular. Dexter Cambridge, Rick Fox, Ian Lockhart, Magnum Rolle, Buddy Hield and Deandre Ayton are a few Bahamians who joined Bahamian Mychal Thompson of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA ranks. Over the years American football has become much more popular than soccer, though not implemented in the high school system yet. Leagues for teens and adults have been developed by the Bahamas American Football Federation. However soccer, as it is commonly known in the country, is still a very popular sport amongst high school pupils. Leagues are governed by the Bahamas Football Association. Recently, the Bahamian government has been working closely with Tottenham Hotspur of London to promote the sport in the country as well as promoting The Bahamas in the European market. In 2013, 'Spurs' became the first Premier League club to play an exhibition match in The Bahamas, facing the Jamaica national football team, Jamaica national team. Joe Lewis (British businessman), Joe Lewis, the owner of the club, is based in The Bahamas. Other popular sports are Swimming (sport), swimming, tennis and boxing, where Bahamians have enjoyed some degree of success at the international level. Other sports such as golf, rugby league, rugby union, beach soccer, and netball are considered growing sports. Athletics (sport), Athletics, commonly known as 'track and field' in the country, is the most successful sport by far amongst Bahamians. Bahamians have a strong tradition in the Sprint (running), sprints and jumps. Track and field is probably the most popular spectator sport in the country next to basketball due to their success over the years. Triathlons are gaining popularity in Nassau and the Family Islands. Durward Knowles was a sailor and Olympic champion from The Bahamas. He won the gold medal in the Star class at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, together with Cecil Cooke. He won the bronze medal in the same class at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne along with Sloane Elmo Farrington. He had previously competed for the United Kingdom in the 1948 Olympics, finishing in 4th place in the Star class again with Sloane Elmo Farrington. Representing The Bahamas, Knowles won gold in the 1959 Pan American Games star class (with Farrington). He is one of only five athletes who have competed in the Olympics over a span of 40 years. Bahamians have gone on to win numerous track and field medals at the Olympic Games, IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games. Frank Rutherford is the first athletics Olympic medallist for the country. He won a bronze medal for triple jump during the 1992 Summer Olympics. Pauline Davis-Thompson, Debbie Ferguson, Chandra Sturrup, Savatheda Fynes and Eldece Clarke-Lewis teamed up for the first athletics Olympic gold medal for the country when they won the 4 × 100 m relay at the 2000 Summer Olympics. They are affectionately known as the "Golden Girls". Tonique Williams-Darling became the first athletics individual Olympic gold medallist when she won the 400 metres, 400-metre sprint in 2004 Summer Olympics. In 2007, with the disqualification of Marion Jones, Pauline Davis-Thompson was advanced to the gold medal position in the Athletics at the 2000 Summer Olympics – Women's 200 metres, 200 metres at the 2000 Olympics, predating William-Darling. The Bahamas were hosts of the first men's senior FIFA tournament to be staged in the Caribbean, the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. The Bahamas also hosted the first 3 editions of the IAAF World Relays. Lacrosse has experienced considerable growth in popularity since 2017.


Education

According to 2011 estimates, 95% of the Bahamian adult population are literate. The University of the Bahamas (UB) is the national higher education/tertiary system. Offering baccalaureate, masters and associate degrees, UB has three campuses, and teaching and research centres throughout The Bahamas. The University of the Bahamas was chartered on 10 November 2016.


Transport

The Bahamas contains about of paved roads. Inter-island transport is conducted primarily via ship and air. The country has 61 airports, the chief of which are Lynden Pindling International Airport on New Providence, Grand Bahama International Airport on Grand Bahama Island and Marsh Harbour Airport, Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (formerly Marsh Harbour Airport) on Abaco Island.


See also

* Outline of the Bahamas * Index of Bahamas-related articles


References


Citations


Sources

* *


Further reading


General history

* Cash Philip ''et al.'' (Don Maples, Alison Packer). ''The Making of The Bahamas: A History for Schools''. London: Collins, 1978. * Miller, Hubert W. ''The Colonization of The Bahamas, 1647–1670, The William and Mary Quarterly'' 2 no.1 (January 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 * Collinwood, Dean. "Columbus and the Discovery of Self," ''Weber Studies'', Vol. 9 No. 3 (Fall) 1992: 29–44. * Dodge, Steve. ''Abaco: The History of an Out Island and its Cays'', Tropic Isle Publications, 1983. * Dodge, Steve. ''The Compleat Guide to Nassau'', White Sound Press, 1987. * Boultbee, Paul G. ''The Bahamas.'' Oxford: ABC-Clio Press, 1990. * Wood, David E., comp., ''A Guide to Selected Sources to the History of the Seminole Settlements of Red Bays, Andros, 1817–1980'', Nassau: Department of Archives


Economic history

* 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. * Alan A. Block. ''Masters of Paradise'', New Brunswick and London, Transaction Publishers, 1998. * Storr, Virgil H. ''Enterprising Slaves and Master Pirates: Understanding Economic Life in the Bahamas''. New York: Peter Lang (publishing company), Peter Lang, 2004.


Social history

* 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. * Curry, Jimmy. ''Filthy Rich Gangster/First Bahamian Movie''. Movie Mogul Pictures: 1996. * Curry, Jimmy. ''To the Rescue/First Bahamian Rap/Hip Hop Song''. Royal Crown Records, 1985. * Collinwood, Dean. ''The Bahamas Between Worlds'', White Sound Press, 1989. * Collinwood, Dean and Steve Dodge. ''Modern Bahamian Society'', Caribbean Books, 1989. * Dodge, Steve, Robert McIntire and Dean Collinwood. ''The Bahamas Index'', White Sound Press, 1989. * Collinwood, Dean. "The Bahamas," in ''The Whole World Handbook 1992–1995'', 12th ed., New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994. * Collinwood, Dean. "The Bahamas," chapters in Jack W. Hopkins, ed., ''Latin American and Caribbean Contemporary Record'', Vols. 1,2,3,4, Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986. * Collinwood, Dean. "Problems of Research and Training in Small Islands with a Social Science Faculty," in ''Social Science in Latin America and the Caribbean'', UNESCO, No. 48, 1982. * Collinwood, Dean and Rick Phillips, "The National Literature of the New Bahamas," ''Weber Studies'', Vol.7, No. 1 (Spring) 1990: 43–62. * Collinwood, Dean. "Writers, Social Scientists and Sexual Norms in the Caribbean," ''Tsuda Review'', No. 31 (November) 1986: 45–57. * Collinwood, Dean. "Terra Incognita: Research on the Modern Bahamian Society," ''Journal of Caribbean Studies'', Vol. 1, Nos. 2–3 (Winter) 1981: 284–297. * Collinwood, Dean and Steve Dodge. "Political Leadership in the Bahamas", The Bahamas Research Institute, No.1, May 1987.


External links

* *
Bahamas
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
The Bahamas
from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' *
The Bahamas
from the BBC News
Key Development Forecasts for The Bahamas
from International Futures
Maps of the Bahamas from the American Geographical Society Library

''The Nassau Guardian''
newspaper, 1849–1922, as Open Access from the Digital Library of the Caribbean {{DEFAULTSORT:Bahamas The Bahamas, 1970s establishments in the Caribbean 1973 establishments in North America Countries in the Caribbean Countries in North America Archipelagoes of the Atlantic Ocean English-speaking countries and territories Former English colonies Island countries Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations Member states of the Caribbean Community Member states of the United Nations Populated places established in 1647 Small Island Developing States States and territories established in 1973