The Bahamas bring to mind beaches and beautiful blue waters. It conjures up sounds of waves without the ringing of a phone or the honking car horns. The mouth waters at the thought of getting away to paradise. But beyond that, what do you really know about the Bahamas? What is the history behind the pleasure?
More Than Just Beaches
The Bahamas are actually comprised of about 700 islands of which a small 40 are populated. On these islands there are close to 300,000 people who call them home. They are located 70 miles off the coast of Florida (southeast tip of America). Completely surrounded by ocean, most of the water in the islands ponds and streams are brackish and unsuitable for drinking. Fresh water is usually obtained by collecting rainwater or desalination.
When you stay in the Bahamas you will fall in love with the wonderful temperature. Though it can reach into the 90’s, it is not the sweltering heat that many might think it is. The average temps throughout the year stay in the 70s and 80s (F). The fine weather and beautiful scenery are two of the things that bring in the tourists.
What might be surprising to you is that the Bahamas is the leading off-shore financial center anywhere in the world. There are over 360 banks here. At first that might not sound like much, but these are not bank sites. These are actual individual banks that have so much traffic from the rest of the world.
Before any Europeans ever appeared on the islands the natives were called Lucayos, part of the Arawaks tribe. Once the islands were discovered in 1492, more and more Europeans appeared. Unfortunately the call of the beach was not the reason for the invasion, but the call of gold. It wasn’t long in arrogance and ignorance that the Lucayos were exterminated by the Spanish who claimed the islands. But despite the influx of the Spanish, they were not the ones to first see the potential use of a settlement on these islands.
When the Spanish decided that there was no gold to be had here, the English claimed the lands. It was remotely ruled by the governor of Carolina. Because of the absent authority and the short-sightedness of the explorers, the pirates were the first to see the potential of these beautiful islands. You could say that sat up the first adult playground that today we call casinos and nightclubs. The popularity of it grew and therefore, the crime rate in the Caribbean and up the East Coast of the Americas increased. In 1717 the first royal governor was appointed, Woodes Rogers. He was not too pleased with the reputation the islands were getting. In an attempt to regain paradise, he set out to run out the pirates which included well-known names like Blackbeard. He was very successful and began to clean up the land.
Like it always does when someone else comes in and does all the work, someone else sees the beautiful end result. The Spanish couldn’t let the English control such beauty. So the attacks began on the islands. The English were able to hold out for several decades until war broke out in the Americas. In 1776 the American forces took over Nassau in their fight for independence from the English. It stayed in lightly in American hands until 1781 when the Spanish were successful in overtaking the islands. But their rule was short-lived. The new country of America was busy setting up a foundation for a great nation and expanding westward. Their focus was not on the Bahamas. But the British were still smarting from a few losses and looked again at the beauty of the islands. In 1783 Great Britain took them back. They were aided in the fact that after the American Revolution, many supporters of Great Britain (Loyalists) moved the islands with the black slaves. They set up their own plantations.
In 1834, Great Britain emancipated all slaves in their vast empire. That was the death nail for the Bahama plantations. Over time the islands slightly declined until prohibition in America gave them a lift. Rum-running became the business of the islands and they began to flourish with activity again. During World War II America leased areas for bases and gain in 1950 for missile sites during the cold war and potential threats from Cuba. In 1955, free trade was set up and the economy began a never stopping increase. In 1973 the islands claimed independence from Great Britain and sat up a parliamentary government. Though they keep the English language as their official language, their mixed heritage is evident throughout the islands culture. And to keep with the history, so is a good time. Casinos and tourism are the backbone of the economy.
So what do you do besides sunbathing and gambling in paradise? There are so many things that it would take a couple of weeks to do them all. There is some of the greatest sports fishing there is. Go snorkeling to see the wonderful world of sea life at your fingertips. Windsurfing gives you the chance to feel the wind in your hair. Casinos and nightclubs are where you can let you hair down. Craft booths make up many of the market places where you can buy locally made items. You can play at one of the best golf courses or go swimming with the dolphins. Don’t forget to check out the biking and hiking trails. You can take the family on a boat ride or have a bonfire on the beach.
The Bahamas are calling to you. Check out the official website and look into book a flight or a boat to the paradise.
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