The Bahamas

The Bahamas is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies. It consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean. Columbus was the first European to see the islands, making his first landfall in the ‘New World’ in 1492. The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. The country gained governmental independence in 1973 led by Sir Lynden O. Pindling.

About The Bahamas in brief

Summary The BahamasThe Bahamas is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies. It takes up 97% of the archipelago’s land area and is home to 88% of its population. It consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean. Columbus was the first European to see the islands, making his first landfall in the ‘New World’ in 1492. The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. The country gained governmental independence in 1973 led by Sir Lynden O. Pindling, with Elizabeth II as its queen. In terms of gross domestic product per capita, The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas. The name Bahamas is most likely derived from either the Taíno ba ha ma, which was a term for the region used by the indigenous people, or possibly from the Spanish baja mar reflecting the shallow waters of the area. The word The constitutes an integral part of the short form of the name and is, therefore, capitalised. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the country’s fundamental law, capitalises the capitalised word ‘The’ in The Bahamas. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes The Bahamas’ territory as encompassing 470,000 km2 of ocean space. It is located north of Cuba and northwest of the island of Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the US state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. Some researchers believe the site to be present-day San Salvador Island, situated in the southeastern Bahamas, is the site of Columbus’s first landfall.

An alternative theory holds that Columbus landed to the southeast on Samana Cay, according to National Geographic writer and editor Joseph Judge, based on the landfall log of the Castile and Leeward Islands. On November 25, 1492, Columbus made first contact with the Lucayans and exchanged islands for the Crown of Castile, claiming the larger isles of the Greater Antilles. On December 26, 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the new Kingdom of Portugal and Castile between the Castiles and Portugal, placing The Bahamas in the Spanish sphere; they did little to press their claim on the ground. As a result of these depredations, many native Lucayan peoples, many of whom were enslaved and sent to Hispaniola for use as forced labour, died from smallpox alone; half of the Taino population was severely depredated. Today Afro-Bahamians make up 90 per cent of the population of 332,634. The capital is Nassau, with the largest island, New Providence, home to the capital city of Nassau and the largest city, Grand Bahama, the capital of the Bahamas, being the city of Port-au-Prince. The Bahama islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648, when English colonists from Bermuda settled on Eleuthera. After the American Revolutionary War, the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists.