Bahamas Getaway Vacations & Destinations
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an English-speaking nation in the West Indies. An archipelago of 700 islands and cays, the Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida and the United States, north of Cuba and the Caribbean, and northwest of the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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Pelican Bay, Lucaya, Bahamas
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Green Turtle Cay
The closest island to the United States is Bimini also known as the gateway to the Bahamas. The island of Abaco is to the east of Grand Bahama. The most southeastern island is Inagua. Other notable islands include Andros Island, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana. Nassau is the capital and largest city, located on New Providence. The islands have a subtropical climate, moderated by the Gulf Stream.
In the southeast, the Caicos Islands and the Turks islands, and three more extensive submarine features called Mouchoir Bank, Silver Bank, and Navidad Bank, are geographically a continuation of the Bahamas, but not part of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. Hurricane Andrew hit the northern islands in 1992, and Hurricane Floyd hit most of the islands in 1999.
Some Background Information
Paleo-Indians may have populated the area previously, Taino Indians from Hispaniola and Cuba moved into the southern Bahamas around the seventh century AD and became the Lucayans. There were an estimated 40,000 Lucayans at the time of Columbus' arrival.
Christopher Columbus' first landfall in the New World was on the island of San Salvador, also called Watling's Island, in the south part of Bahamas. Here, Columbus made contact with the Lucayans and exchanged goods with them.
The Bahamian Lucayans were taken to Hispaniola as slaves; in two decades, many Lucayan societies ceased to exist, as the population endured considerable forced labour, warfare, disease, emigration and outmarriage. After the Lucayan population was decimated, the Bahamian islands were virtually unoccupied until the English settlers came from Bermuda in 1647. The so-called Eleutherian Adventurers established settlements on the island of Eleuthera.
The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718. Some 8,000 loyalists and their slaves moved to the Bahamas in the late 1700s from New York, Florida and the Carolinas.The United Kingdom Emancipation Act took force on August 1, 1834, thereby ending slavery in the Bahamas. This led to many fugitive slaves from the US braving the perils of the Atlantic for the promise of a free life in the Bahamas.
The British made the islands internally self-governing in 1964 and, in 1973, Bahamians got full independence while staying a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The country's black majority, was economically opressed and socially excluded in a way simliar to the situation southern United States until the late 1960s, when the party of the black majority was elected into power under the leadership of Sir. Lynden Pindling Since the 1950s, the Bahamian economy has prospered based on the twin pillars of tourism and financial services. Today, the country enjoys the third highest per capita income in the western hemisphere, and the highest in the Caribbean,excluding the dependent territories of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.Despite this, the country still faces significant challenges in areas such as education, healthcare, Narcotics traffiking, correctional facilities and violent crime and illegal immigration. The urban renewal project has been launched in recent years to help impoverished urban areas in social decline in the main islands.
Some say the name 'Bahamas' derives from the Spanish for baja mar, meaning "shallow seas." Others trace it to the Lucayan word for Grand Bahama Island, ba-ha-ma ("large upper middle land").
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article The Bahamas
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