The Bahamas Needs No Country
The Bahamas, the island group, do not need to belong to any country. It is simply because it is its own country. Great Britain granted independence to this country on the 10th of July in 1973. It has an area of 3900 sq. miles and is one of the independent Commonwealths. It has a population of around 300,000, and its economy is primarily dependent on tourism.
Situated towards the east of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean, The Bahamas are noteworthy for being the first-ever landfall for Columbus of the ‘New World’. When it comes to gross domestic product per capita, the country is among the Americas’ richest nation with an economy running on offshore finance and mainly tourism.
A Brief History of The Bahamas
A group of Taíno people who speak the Arawakan language inhabited The Bahamas for many centuries. These people were known as the Lucayans. The first European who saw the islands was Columbus, who made his first-ever landfall into the New World in 1492. The Lucayans were later shipped and enslaved on Hispaniola by the Spanish. After this, the islands of the Bahamas remain mostly abandoned from 151 to 1648. In 1648, the English colonists came from Bermuda for settling on the islands of Eleuthera.
In 1718, The Bahamas turned into a crown colony of the British as they started clamping down on piracy. The Bahamas saw the resettling of thousands of American Loyalists after the end of the American Revolutionary War. These people took enslaved folks with them for establishing land grants and plantations. The African enslaved natives and their descendants made up for the majority of The Bahamas’ population from this period. (See How many Arab countries are there?)
A Refuge for Freed Africans
The British abolished the slave trade in 1807, while it was not until 1834 when slavery got abolished in The Bahamas. The Bahamas subsequently became a safe space for the freed African slaves. The Royal Army resettled those Africans on the islands who were finally liberated from the illegal slave ships. Some Seminoles and North American slaves also escaped from Florida and made The Bahamas their haven. The Bahamians came to be known as those who saw the freedom of enslaved folks carried by ships of other countries that reached the islands. Today, the Afro-Bahamians consist of close to 90% of the total population of The Bahamas.
The National Flag
Adopted in 1973, the Bahamian national flag has colours that represent the strength of its people. It is designed to reflect the aspects of the country’s natural environment (sea and sun) and social and economic development. The flag has a black equilateral triangle on a mast which is superimposed over a horizontal background of three colours. Here, you see aquamarine, gold, and aquamarine again in three equal stripes.
The Climate of The Bahamas
Usually, The Bahamas experiences Aw, a tropical savannah climate and a hot and wet season and a warm and dry season. The country owes its winterless and warm climate to the warm tropical Gulf Stream, low elevation and low latitude. Like any other tropical place, the country gets seasonal rainfall followed by the sunny summers in the wettest seasons. Occasionally, it gets impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms. Often, the country remains dry and sunny for long time periods. It receives an average of 340 days or 3,000 hours of sunlight every year. You will easily spot succulents and cactus on its landscapes as the natural vegetation here is tropical scrub. Interestingly, there is just a 13 °F or 7 °C difference between the coolest month and the warmest month throughout most of the Bahama Islands.
The Breathtaking White Beaches
Did you know that Scot Kelly, a NASA Astronaut, famously said that The Bahamas is “the most beautiful place from space”? Just scroll through the islands’ photos, and you will know why. This tropical archipelago houses stunning white sand beaches with turquoise and deep blue waters surrounding it with its beautiful palette. It is one of the most loved vacation destinations in the world. It houses a total of 700 beaches, and the wonderful weather adds more to your relaxing holiday trip.
A couple of islands here are also known for attracting the wealthy and famous. Wealthy travel enthusiasts from across the globes visit this land of islands for having an amazing vacationing experience. The island country also offers vibrant opportunities of buying your own private islands. In this country, you can get a glimpse of the oceanfront villas of Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and various other celebrities.
You Can Swim with the Pigs Here!
Across the Caribbean, The Bahamas is famous for offering the experience of swimming with pigs. All you have to do for this tour is take a boat to Pig Island, also known as the Big Major Cay. After getting pretty close to the island, you will actually see quite a fig pigs swimming towards your boat for greeting you. This is an experience of a lifetime, and if you are planning a trip to the island nation, don’t miss out on it. It is a family-friendly trip, but even couples love this experience to get to know the cute swimming piggies of The Bahamas. Apart from the pigs and their caretakers, Major Cay is usually uninhabited and is located around 82 miles southeast of Nassau.
They Also Have Pink Sand Beaches!
The Bahamas is not only home to pristine white sand beaches but also gorgeous pink beaches. It is among the only regions in the world which has pink sand beaches. Harbour Island in the northeast of Eleuthera is where you can find them. The locals usually refer to the island as “Briland” and are ready to fall in love with these spectacular beaches. The quaint little town of Dunmore with its pastel-coloured cottages is a sight to behold. While exploring the beaches, don’t forget to go diving, sunbathing, or on a relaxed fishing expedition. To get to Harbour Island, you can either board a flight from Nassau or take The Bahamas Fast Ferries Catamaran. There are some resorts which also offer day trips to this island.
The Historic Lighthouses of The Bahamas
Lighthouses hold a particular intrigue around them. You can check out a couple of notable lighthouses here. The most visited one is the Hope Town Lighthouse, also known as Elbow Reef Lighthouse. It is located in the Elbow Cay Bahamas and makes for a delightful visit. The 89-foot lighthouse adds appeal to the already charming Hope Town. It was built during the 1860s, when lighthouses were used for guiding or warning ships at sea. The lighthouse has lived through decades for carrying a part of the past well into the future. You can get wonderful views from the top of the lighthouse, and climbing 101 steps will be all worth it. The best-known, as well as the oldest lighthouse in The Bahamas, is the Hog Island Lighthouse. It was built in 1817 and is located towards the western part of Paradise Island.
The Junkanoo Festival
If there would ever be a true Caribbean party, The Junkanoo Festival would be the one. It is a huge event in the island country and is held on Christmas and New Year every year. You can call the celebration of the Bahamians’ own version of a carnival. Be ready to enjoy a plethora of live bands, music, parties, costumes, floats, traditional instruments, parades, and a whole lot of excitement. If you visit the country at any time of the year apart from December or January, you can still pick up a bit of this cultural carnival by shopping for junkanoo inspired ornaments, paintings, jewellery, and so on. This way, you can make up for missing the super awesome parade.
The Bahamas and the James Bond Movies
There are numerous famous movies made or filmed in this island country. Well, that doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how gorgeous The Bahamas is. Among the movies are Never Say Never Again as well as Thunderball. Both these movies are from the James Bond franchise. Located in the Exuma Cays, Thunderball Grotto makes for a brilliant snorkelling and diving spot. It gets its name because the location was a stunning feature in Thunderball, the movie. It stood out, particularly in the underwater fight sequence. Although the underwater cave may look intimidating at first, it makes for a great diving experience and gets super exciting.
The Unique Local Dialect of The Bahamas
Every region has its unique dialect or accent. When it comes to The Bahamas, the people here have a very different speaking style, especially when talkin’ Bahamian. The foreign tourists find it hard to understand the Creole dialect in which the islanders speak. Their local creole is influenced by the African languages and dialects. If you want to learn more about their dialect, buy local books to translate what you hear. You can also learn and use a phrase or two in your vocabulary as well. People widely speak English in The Bahamas. So, communication would not be a problem there, even if you don’t know the local dialect.
Don’t Miss Out on the Delicious Seafood
When in The Bahamas, get your taste buds ready for an all-new experience with fresh seafood. The seafood here is not only supremely delicious but comes in a massive variety. South America, Europe, and African inspirations diffuse through the food choices across the islands. It is surely going to make you want more. It would help if you were open to trying out unique food options such as conch ceviche (conch salad), baked crabs, Johny cakes, fried fish, rock lobsters, and many more.
Don’t forget to try out the Bahama mama cocktail, made from coconut rum, rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine, as its primary ingredients. It is famous all across the globe and a must-try while your visit to The Bahamas. You can also try out other local classics such as a Goombay Smash or Sky Juice. If you love jams and jellies, this tropical archipelago has some amazing treats for you. Try out their pineapple jam, guava jelly, or any of their fruity variety that you can get your hands on.
The Bahamas is Not Really a Part of the Caribbean
The Bahamas ranks at number 5 in the list of nations with the lowest ‘highest point’ worldwide. The low-lying region is because almost all the land in these islands is formed by raised coral reefs or sandbars. If you look at The Bahamas’ geography, you will see the island located towards the north of the Caribbean. However, the country is not considered to be a part of the region from all the spheres. A notable point is often brought up that, unlike various other Caribbean islands, the Bahamian islands were not made from a volcanic process. Also, their location moves them all the more away from the Caribbean group.
Nevertheless, the island nation still has a Caribbean identity. It is mainly because of its history, climate, and other aspects compared to the rest of the islands in the region. Moreover, the Bahamas country is very closely knitted to plenty of Caribbean nations and the association of CARICOM (Caribbean Community).