About The Bahamas

The Bahamas lie scattered across more than 100,000 square miles of the western Atlantic Ocean. From a point roughly 70 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, the great archipelago extends some 750 miles southward toward the northern Caribbean, almost to the island of Hispaniola.

The islands that make up the Bahamas are generally low and flat. The highest point in the entire archipelago, on Cat Island, is just 206 feet above sea level. Except on Andros, the largest island of the chain, there are no rivers or streams. Apart from New Providence – where fresh water is shipped in daily from Andros, pumped from wells dug into the underlying rocks – fresh water is abundant.

Before the Europeans arrived, the Bahamas were inhabited mostly by Lucayan Indians. Christopher Columbus, on his way to the New World, made landfall on San Salvador – so it’s generally accepted – in 1492.  The islands became known as Bahama, from the Spanish “baja mar,” or shallow sea. More...

In 1666, New Providence was settled by a second group of Englishmen. They, too, arrived from Bermuda seeking a better life. By then, however, other adventurers had already realized that the Bahamas, close to the already busy shipping routes from the New World to Spain and Portugal, offered quick and easy pickings. More...

The largest and best known city in the Bahamas is Nassau. Located on the island of New Providence, it boasts a population of more than 175,000 people. In times gone by, Nassau was an international playground for the rich. Today, the first city of the Bahamas attracts not only the affluent of the world, but vacationers of every class and culture, especially from America. The city has become a tax haven – Nassau has more than 400 banks – and is a popular location for international business conferences and meetings. More....

Paradise Island, a long, narrow barrier island connected to Nassau by a toll bridge, is as different from Nassau as Key West is from Miami. While Paradise Island is a world of hotels (The World's finest is at left - Atlantis), restaurants and exciting nightlife, it’s also a world still quite unspoiled where you can enjoy the sea and beaches that lie close to the bustling streets of the city. More....

Freeport, on Grand Bahama Island, is the second largest city in the islands. With a steadily growing population, now more than 50,000, Freeport, which adjoins the Lucaya Beach area, is a more modern city than Nassau. The carefully planned, landscaped streets are a product of the sixties, and of the dreams of American entrepreneur and financier, Wallace Groves. More....

Grand Bahama, through the efforts of dedicated individuals and institutions such as the Rand Memorial Nature Center and the Lucayan National Park, has become something of an environmental headquarters for the islands. With its miles of sandy beaches, excellent shopping, two casinos, a dozen or so large hotels, a waterfront district and many restaurants, Grand Bahama is quickly becoming a major vacation destination. More....

The Out Islands of the Bahamas are a tropical paradise. Before the Europeans arrived, the Bahamas were inhabited mostly by Lucayan Indians. Christopher Columbus, on his way to the New World, made landfall on San Salvador – so it’s generally accepted – in 1492.  The islands became known as Bahama, from the Spanish “baja mar,” or shallow sea. Almost immediately, Europeans began enslaving the Lucayans. By the turn of the 16th century, they had almost been wiped out and a new source of cheap labor was needed. As early as 1503, the Portuguese were enslaving Africans and for several years they controlled the burgeoning industry. By 1520, however, white slave traders of assorted nationalities were going directly to the source. In 1649, Captain William Sayle and a band of Englishmen arrived in the islands from Bermuda. They came with slaves of their own, seeking religious freedom. They called themselves the Eleutherian Adventurers, hence the island of Eleuthera. The name is based upon the Greek word for freedom. More....

Because the Islands of the Bahamas are no more than the exposed top portions of the Great Bahama Bank, an extension of the North American continental shelf, there are only three deep-water channels suitable for the passage of large vessels.

Of the 700 islands and 2,000 islets, called cays (keys), making up the archipelago, only about 30 are inhabited. Some are little more than boulders that appear and disappear with the rise and fall of the ocean. Some are long and thin and stretch for many miles. Still others are home to thousands of busy people. The vast majority of the islands, however, are deserted, with pristine beaches and tropical forests that are untouched by humans.

A With a total combined land mass of less than 5,400 square miles, the islands of the Bahamas constitute one of the smallest countries in the world.

Tourism has brought prosperity to the Bahamas. But it hasn’t spoiled the great natural beauty of the islands. In the early days, as in the coastal boom towns of Florida and California, little attention was given to the damage unrestricted exploitation was inflicting on Nassau and New Providence. Today, there’s a new feeling in the islands. A feeling that the unique beauty of the archipelago must be preserved. Conservation is the new watchword of the Bahamas.

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Getting There:

For visitors arriving by air, the Bahamas are served through Nassau by most US airlines and by international airlines from Canada and Europe, and to a slightly more limited degree through Freeport.

The Out Islands are served mainly by Bahamas Air via connections in Nassau and Freeport.

The Bahamas is also a major destination for the cruise ship industry

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