Documented Bahamian history
begins with the words, "Baja Mar," the name the
Spanish bestowed on the islands. This term is misleading,
however; it means "shallow sea," but the
islands are really mountain plateaus that emerged from
the Atlantic hundreds of thousands of years ago. As they
grew, they hosted countless generations of coral, which
today comprise the islands' limestone base.The "Lukku-cairi"
or island people, as they called themselves, were the
first settlers. Originally from South America, they
meandered up through the Caribbean and finally arrived in
The Bahamas around the Ninth Century AD. Known as
they are also called "Lucayans" and
"Indians"- a label bestowed by Columbus, who
mistakenly thought he found the East Indies when he
dropped anchor in San
Salvador in 1492.
Christopher Columbus, a mercenary funded by Spain, virtually wiped out most of the Indian population of every Bahamian island with which he came into contact. He either killed them, or sold them to slavery.
The next phase of Bahamian
history involves the Eleutheran Adventurers, English
settlers who left Bermuda in 1647 searching for religious
freedom. led by William Sayle. They formed the first British colony on the
Island of Eleuthera
and began a prosperous agricultural economy that still
The geography of the
islands attracted many well-known
pirates, such as the infamous Blackbeard, Henry Morgan and Anne Bonney,
who dominated the islands for the next 70 Years in what
was known as "The Golden Age of Piracy". The Bahamas were a perfect hideout for the pirates, and was the haunt for such pirate rogues as:
1) Edward Teach(Blackbeard)
2) Benjamin Hornigold
3) Major Stede Bonnet
4) "Calico" Jack Rackham
5) Mary Reed
6) Anne Bonny
chief occupation was luring unsuspecting ships into the
treacherous, shallow waters, then pouncing on and
plundering them like insects trapped in a spider's web.
Britain, which claimed islands in 1670, remained
powerless against their predations for almost 50 years,
until the first governor, Woodes Rogers, drove them out
in 1718. Britain then recognized the Bahamas as a colony. Rogers, a former pirate, promptly hung eight pirates, and coined the term,: "Expolsis, piratis, restitua commercia" (Piracy expelled, commerce restored).
government-sanctioned form of piracy practiced during
Britain's war with Spain and the American Revolution,
brought periods of prosperity to the islands. Spain
entered the fray on the side of the Americans and briefly
retook The Bahamas in May 1782. A year later, under the
Treaty of Versailles, it once again became a British
Following Britain's defeat
in the American Revolutionary War, southern loyalists
brought their slaves to the islands and grew cotton under
the Crown's protection. Troubled times in neighboring
America often meant prosperity for The Bahamas. In 1861,
during the American Civil War years, the Union Navy
blockaded the islands in an attempt to cripple the
Confederacy, and Bahamians grew rich running Confederate
cotton to English mills and sending military equipment to
Hard times followed the end
of the Civil War until Prohibition and the "Roaring
Twenties" transformed The Bahamas into a base for
rum-running. But after Prohibition was repealed, the
islands again lapsed into economic stagnation. Prosperity
did not return until World War II, when the Bahamas
served as an air and sea way-station in the Atlantic.
Shortly after, the new industry of tourism changed the
priorities in the islands. For the first time, the beauty
and life of the islands were recognized as an asset. When
Cuba was closed to US tourists in the 1950's, The Bahamas
forged ahead to become one of the world's most popular
Great Britain granted the
islands self-government in 1964 and changed their status
from colony to Commonwealth in 1969. In 1973, the
Commonwealth of The Bahamas became independent within the
Commonwealth of Nations, but retained Queen Elizabeth II
as constitutional head of state.
In the late 70's and early 80's, The Bahamas became a route through which cocaine travelled from Columbia to Florida, largely through the use of high speed 'Cigarette Boats'.
This drug scourge affected politics, the economy, and the people of the Bahamas, but has largely disappeared due to the combined efforts of the authorities of the Bahamas and the United States.
Today, the Bahamas attracts people after the fast life, in Nassau and Freeport, and people who like the quiet beach life, and diving in the Out Islands.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: The Bahamas is a renowned tax haven with no corporate, income, capital gains, or estate tax. A stable democracy with more than 250 years of Parliamentary rule, the Bahamas is English-speaking, and the Queen of England is the official Head of State.
Bahamas News On-Line
Good Books on The Bahamas
Owning Property in the Bahamas
Brian Antoni's Story on CONCH