Bahamas, Early Settlement

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. And so it began, a prosperous agricultural economy that still thrives today.


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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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