Because of the proximity of the southeast
coast of Florida to The Bahamas, I have
jumped over to this extensive island chain
of about 30 inhabited islands, many times.
Usually the natural hazards, such as
hurricanes and tropical storms which cause
extensive flooding and wind damage, hit them
before attacking our Florida coastline.
Tourism accounts for more than 60% of their
gross domestic product, and employs in
various ways, half of the archipelago's
labor force, in constructing their hotels,
resorts, and other tourist attractions.
The second-most important sector of their
economy is banking. The Bahamian
dollar currently is one-on-one with the US
dollar, and many rich people keep, or hide,
their money in these banks. English is
their official language.
Geography played an important part in
Bahamian history. In 1492 the islands
were inhabited by Arawak Indians, when Christopher
Columbus made his landfall in our New World
on the island of San Salvador, in the
eastern section of the Bahamas. After
looking at the shallow sea around the
islands, he said: "baja mar"
(shallow sea) and thus named the Bahamas, or
The Islands of the Shallow Sea.
During the 1600s to the 1700s, pirates
and privateers such as the famous
Blackbeard, used the islands of The
Bahamas as their port because of the
numerous islets with their complex shoals
and channels which offered them excellent
hiding places for the plundering of ships,
especially Spanish galleons filled with
treasure. Also, since these islands
were later closed to the well-traveled
shipping lanes, it gave the buccaneers
many opportunities to steal from merchant
ships. Little has changed today as
danger lurks in these shark-infested
waters. Florida boaters have to also
be on the alert.
They do not have elections because Queen
Elizabeth II of Great Britain, is the Chief
of State, but Dame Ivy Dumont, has been
their Governor General since May 2002.
As the monarchy is
hereditary the governor general was
appointed by the monarch, and following
legislative elections, the leader of the
majority party is usually appointed prime
minister by the governor general.
There are 21 districts, and I love their
names: Crooked Islands, Bimini, Cat
Island, Exuma, Freeport, Fresh Creek, Green
Turtle Cay, Harbour Island, Inagua, Marsh
Harbour, Mayaguana, Berry Islands, New
Providence, Ragged Island, Rock Sound, Sandy
Point, San Salvador, Rum Cay, etc.
I have five chapters
written about a female pirate who lived on
Rum Cay, but I never seem to find the time
to finish writing this book.
Whenever I want to run away I go to
Freeport, (and I should not be telling you
about my little secret because it might
start a flood of tourism and I want that
island all to myself, because it is balm to
my nerves.) It is pleasantly peaceful,
tropically tranquil and quietly romantic.
The sand is as pink as the borders of this
site, and it is heaven on earth. I
enjoy reading a good book while basking in
the shade of a hammock strung between two
coconut palm trees. Wish I were there
right now, but I have work to do! In
the evenings I usually dine on a conch
salad, which is served raw with fresh
lime juice and spices. I prefer it
with white wine and then usually order
Bahamian cuisine of stew fish cooked with
onions, tomatoes, celery, pigeon peas,
spices and rice. Delicious!!
have visited many a Junkanoo, which is like
a New Orleans Mardi Gras, or Rio de Janeiro
carnival. Their colorful costumes,
dance and music usually revolve around
one central theme. The Straw Market is
one of Nassau's main attractions, and it is
one of the largest in the world; but I feel
sorry for the horses drawing the carriages, standing
in the heat of the day, and feel this is
very cruel to the animals, and wish this
type of tourist attraction were
abolished. (Any animal lover out there want
to tackle this abuse with the Bahamian
government?) The market has an
interesting assortment of straw hats, mats,
baskets, woodcarvings, and sea-shell
jewelry, and people from all over the world
disembark from the cruise ships at the
nearby docks to buy these trinkets.
West Indies boasts of a diverse heritage and
now many Haitians speaking Creole are
flocking to the Bahamas to find work.
Their religion is mostly Baptists of about
35.4%, Anglican 15.1%, Roman Catholic 13.5%,
Pentecostal 8.1%, Church of God 4.8%,
Methodist 4.2%, and other Christians 15.2%.
Now the country, because of its geography,
is a major transshipment point for illegal
drugs and smuggling of illegal migrants, which
find their way into the USA. The
Bahamian Islands caught the attention of
explorers, settlers, invaders and traders,
and these people shaped the colorful history
of the Bahamas and made the country
what it is today.