The People of the Bahamas

The Bahamas, still very much steeped in their traditional British heritage, are inhabited by a hodgepodge of black and white races of African-American, Continental European, and African origin, among others. Less than 40 years ago, blacks on the islands were not allowed in any of the nation’s restaurants, theaters, and hotels, although they represented more than 80% of the population. That is all changed now and, although several islands remain predominantly white, Bahamians of all colors integrate freely with one another.

With independence from Britain in 1973, and with tourism becoming the mainstay of the Bahamian economy, black people, once the poorest members of the population, have increasingly improved their lot.

The bulk of the wealth is still in white hands, but more and more black-owned business are making a contribution. Where once they were not allowed, black Bahamians have found their way into administration and management. And while many young Bahamians still leave the islands in search of something better, it seems most of them return sooner or later.

Bahamians, black or white, are very friendly and outgoing. The always cheerful “good morning,” the happy smile, and the eagerness to help, whether it’s with directions or service, often borders on the cloying. But rest assured, it’s done with an almost naïve genuineness and a desire to please.

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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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