The Bahamas extends 760 miles from the coast of Florida on the north-west and almost to Haiti on the south-east. The group consists of 700 islands and 2,400 cays with an area of 5,358 sq. miles (13,878 sq. km.). Thirty of the islands are inhabited.
The principal islands include Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, Inagua, Long Island, Mayaguana, New Providence (Capital is where Nassau is located), Ragged Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador and Spanish Wells. The highest point in The Bahamas is 206-ft. Mount Alvernia on Cat Island. Once known as Como Hill, Mount Alvernia overlooks The Bight.
The 2000 census disclosed that the population of The Bahamas totaled 306,611, with 155,896 females and 147,715 males. Ninety percent of the total population lives on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco. New Providence has 69.9 percent of the population, Grand Bahama and Abaco with 15.5 percent, and 10.3 percent are scattered on the remaining islands and cays.
The original inhabitants of The Bahamas were Arawak Indians, who had migrated through the Antilles from South America. Within a few decades after Christopher Columbus landed on San Salvador in 1492. The Spanish had depopulated the islands by shipping the peaceful Arawaks to slavery in the mines of Hispaniola and Cuba, where they died by the thousands under harsh conditions.
In 1647, seeking religious freedom, the first permanent settlement in The Bahamas was established by a group of English settlers from Bermuda called the Company of Eleutheran Adventurers; who organised a community on what is now the island of Eleuthera.
During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, piracy flourished in the islands because of their proximity to important shipping lanes. The power of the buccaneers was crushed by Woodes Rogers, the first Royal Governor, who established orderly conduct in 1718.
In 1776, a U.S. naval squadron captured Nassau, but withdrew after only one day. Following the American War of Independence, some 6,000 American loyalists and their slaves settled in The Bahamas.
The American Civil War brought prosperity to The Bahamas, which served as a transfer point for munitions and medical supplies to be run through the northern blockade of Confederate ports. Cotton from the south was the main commodity of exchange. During the prohibition era in the United States, from 1917 to 1933, The Bahamas again prospered because of its proximity to the mainland. This time the islands supplied liquor for American rum runners. Taking advantage of the colony’s ideal weather conditions, the Royal Air Force used The Bahamas as a flight training area during World War II. The islands were also used by British and American units hunting German submarines.
In the post-war years, The Bahamas has become one of the world’s foremost vacation resorts. In 1950 about 40,000 visitors wintered in The Bahamas. In 2003, according to statistics supplied by the Ministry of Tourism, the total visitor arrivals rose by 4.3 percent to 4.6 million, consolidating the 5.3 percent improvement attained in 2002 and placing to 1.4 million, after consecutive declines in 2001 and 2002 of 3.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. Growth in sea arrivals abated to 5.4 percent from 9.0 percent in 2002, for 3.2 million visitors. Tourism now accounts for just over 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Financial services, an important engine of The Bahamian economy, are responsible for 15 percent of GDP. The number of banks and trust companies licensed to operate within The Bahamas decreased by 17 to 284 during 2003. The vast majority of them are branches, subsidiaries or affiliates of major banking institutions in North and South America and Western Europe. In addition, data from the Office of Registrar of Insurance Companies indicate that the number of licensed insurance companies, brokers and agents and managers in The Bahamas increased by one to 163 at end 2003, bringing the number of licensed insurance companies operating in the domestic sector to 137, while the number of external insurers remained at 26.
The Bahamas achieved independence from Britain July 10, 1973, and is now a fully self-governing member of the Commonwealth and a member of the United Nations, the Caribbean Community and the Organisation of American States.
Under Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, who died August 26, 2000, The Bahamas was governed by the Progressive Liberal Party for more than a quarter of a century, having won successive general elections in 1967, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1982 and 1987. The Free National Movement ousted the PLP from office in the general election of 1992 under the leadership of Minister Hubert A. Ingraham, who became the New Prime Minister winning in the polls in 1997.
Now, here we are with new incentives that some say will further diminish our cultural identity; but most may conclude is needed for an economic boost. The 2015 Carnival Festival is scheduled to begin in approximately a month or two which will exhibit another side of The Bahamas’ culture and texture as a people. For now Junkanoo seems to make head-way in its endeavors to establish that its Parade is Bahamian.
The question that everyone asks is, what will it take to get the Bahamas on track in 2015, even though much of them are actually mind boggle and confuse as to what they’re asking without suggestions.
The Bahamas have been known primarily for its hospitality industry from its inception as a Nation. Our Nation have enjoyed many unattested years where our tourism industry has allowed us to be competitive in economic rewards from travelers to our country; and as a choice destination vacation spot consequent of the Magnum Hotels investments here in the Bahamas. “The Bahamas has stood out among its neighbors.”
The Bahamas has enjoyed the luxury of five-star Mega Hotels and Resorts, that have out matched its competitors in the Caribbean Region for at least, the last fifteen years (15 yrs) approximately. In such time, investors have gain even more momentum to establish economic based Resorts here in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Take for instance,
The Newest Mega Resort in The Bahamas Ongoing Development
Baha Mar, was schedule to open in December of 2014, however, due to some technical set backs it was delayed. The Mega Resort is set on 3,000 feet of white-sand beach just 12 minutes from Nassau’s newly expanded Lynden Pindling International Airport. The resort will feature an elite collection of hotel brands with gaming, entertainment, shopping and natural attractions that reflect an authentic Bahamian experience. Baha Mar will feature 307 private residences within four new hotels including The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, the centerpiece of the resort, Grand Hyatt, Mondrian, and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.
Amenities will include a 100,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style casino, the largest in the Caribbean region; the 18-hole, 72-par championship Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. At Baha Mar, 200,000 square feet of combined state-of-the-art convention facilities, including a 2,000-seat performing arts center; and an art gallery with the largest curated collection of Bahamian art. There is more than 30 restaurants, nightclubs and bars; two spas, including the 30,000-square-foot destination ESPA at Baha Mar; designer retail boutiques; a beachfront sanctuary with native Bahamian flora and fauna,14 distinctive pool experiences and a private island. Wow, did the writer get everything, I doubt it, but you would have to come and see for yourself.
International Travelers who expect nothing but the best in luxury find their expectations graciously met at Grand Hyatt Residences at Baha Mar. The Grand Hyat, is famously known around the world for hosting sophisticated, global business travelers, and international jet-setters with a taste for state of the art stylish upscale accommodations. The Grand Hyatt Residences at Baha Mar will feature: Private Residences consisting of One,Two and Three-Bedroom accommodations; many providing dramatic ocean views, with others offering a panorama of inland waterways, bustling boardwalk and spectacular dancing water shows.
All residences will have terraces, luxurious furnishings and decor, consistent with Grand Hyatt’s highest levels of quality and design. Residents will enjoy all amenities of Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar, including the private pool and lounge areas just steps away from the excitement of the casino floor and relaxation of the Destination Spa. Grand Hyatt Residences at Baha Mar are perfect for those who wish to experience the best the Caribbean has to offer.
However, the buck for The Bahamas does not end here with the luxury of Resorts and secured foreign investments that stands out second to none in the Caribbean. The country is going through an assimilation process, a transition most troubling for the natives. Foreigners and their different cultural backgrounds, have not alone stagnated the economic engines because of the various needs of each; but have influence criminal behavior as well, that is ripping at the fabric of a once known to be peaceful Nation.
Interesting is the fact, the political spectrum seems looming for the Governing Administration come next General Elections as a consequent of the tremendous amount of economic repairs needed.’ The main governing political administrations such as, The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), The Free National Movement (FNM), and The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Parties have wrangled on about what they would do as the Administrative agent for The Bahamas without permanent fixes.
What The Bahamas needs are theses: 1) A Nation wide campaign for young men with a realistic agendas to improve vocabulary, intellectual pursuits and mannerism towards business; 2) an alternative to prison for the first time offender giving them a chance for second opportunities. The latter penalties has proven unsuccessful; 3) a religious and cultural forum to discuss the differences in beliefs, cultures and The Bahamas’ mantra for foreigners assimilation; 4) vocational training advising the people in the manner in which to reclaim heritage lands and their various uses under law; 5) adolescence programs realistically teaching how to cope with peer pressures and temperaments; and 6), determining one’s abilities in a respected field; or helping persons to develop their unrecognized potential abilities. These are pressing issues touching our Nation that needs serious coordination to develop and implement these programs. Programs that will assist persons in the know how to deal with situations at hand. It will take minds free from being bias; free from discrimination and having the fear of doing wrong morally. Humble minds in tune with reality as a human-being is most urgently needed for the task at hand. While firmly resolved with tough love. It has not been seen openly through the programs implemented thus far in our country that can’t be torn apart by scandal. As it relates to criminal elements, the Bahamas is not the worst nevertheless.’
The Bahamas face futuristic competitors that are eager to challenge its existence for being an independent country; for being a country that have been built on heritage natives backs peacefully, with rigor and visionaries. ‘Amazing isn’t it, the Bahamas whom has entertained Queens, a noble subject to the throne, now subject for hostile take over?’ As our Country’s first leader once laid down on principle:
– Address at the National Conference on Independence, April 12th, 1972 “This National Conference has served to outline and explain to you all what our steps in building our Nation would be. We have been considering how we would give formal constitutional, legal, social, economic and religious expression to being a Bahamian. What does it take to be a Bahamian? Loyalty to our Bahamas over and above all other; zeal for our Bahamas unmatched by any other; concern for other Bahamians over all others. “One of the greatest psychological changes that has overtaken the Bahamian people in the years since 1967 is their sense of pride in being ‘Bahamian.’ There was a time when being a Bahamian did not count for much. The Bahamian was tolerated but not recognised. Now he is given full recognition and cannot be just tolerated. But we Bahamians have a responsibility to our Country not to let our new-found sense of pride go to our heads. Instead, we should always use our heads to make the most of our pride of being. Independence will mean work for us all, self-reliance for us all, dignity for us all, and reward for us all; but the mere fact of Independence will not promise us a rose garden. “Those who wish to be Bahamian also have a responsibility. They have a responsibility to try to be like us; to try to share our hopes and aspirations; to help us build and achieve. They do not have a responsibility to try to remake us in someone else’s image; they have no responsibility to retard our progress or to destroy everything Bahamian. “The commitment and dedication to the Bahamas of those who wish to be Bahamian must be no less than our own and no less than Ruth’s was to Naomi. Hers was total. Ruth stated her case as follows: ‘entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodges, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.’ And, if we demand that kind of commitment from those who would wish to be Bahamian, we who are Bahamian can have no less a commitment for each other. “Our Bahamian Nation is unfolding before our very eyes as we ring down the final curtain on this great Family Drama in which all of us have played star roles. And as the curtain falls, I commend to you the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy spoken at his inauguration: ‘In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course…. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our good deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.’ “You have come, all of you, from far and near. You have come to refresh your memories about the past; you have come to examine the present; and you have come to plan the future. The future – what does it hold? Sometimes the best laid plans of man go astray. That happens in countries that are independent and countries that are not and being a colony is no saving feature. But have we no faith? Our Brother Clarence Alfred Bain would have reminded us that ‘God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. ‘ “Living as we are on these Islands we are children of the sea. Living on these Family Islands, we are one Family. As our Islands are part of God’s great Universe we are children of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars. Yes, we do have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to all of us, the Universe is unfolding as it should. “God bless you all!
…Sir. Lynden’s words are but a dying word as it seems today unbelievably.’
But there is more to the Bahamas than meets the eyes, that would draw you still to its shores. It has a history rich to be told and to be uncovered.
A 18th century military complex is located on a high ridge running parallel to West Bay Street, a five minute walk from the City’s Center along Marcus Bethel Way; and about 15-20 minutes from the Resort of Cable Beach. At its western extremity is the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.
Fort Charlotte, constructed during the Governorship of ‘Lord Dunmore,’ was named in honor of the wife of King George III. There are actually three forts: Fort Charlotte, the Eastern Section, Fort Stanley, the Middle Section and Fort D’Arcy, the Western Section. The construction of the forts, out of solid rock begun in 1787, and completed in 1819. A dry moat surrounds Fort Charlotte and is spanned by a wooden bridge on the north side. The Forts and Military Installations in New Providence and throughout The Bahamas, formed such an insurmountable Defense Systems that potential invaders were discouraged, and as a result, these Forts never fired a gun in battle.
Today Fort Charlotte Complex is outfitted with exhibits displaying the history of this fortification. Reenactments and historic weapon firing are apart of the ongoing interpretative program planned for the fort. The site remains open to the public and for Tourist attraction.
The beaches are located basically all around the island, beautiful, clean and inviting. A place with feelings of a true paradise with cool sea breezes, this no doubt encompasses any heart to long for their “wet sunshine embraces.”
In short, what will it take to get the Bahamas and keep the Commonwealth on track this year 2015? In the writers’ mind, ‘it will take the sacrifice efforts of all hands to unit for the betterment of the future of our race, and children as citizens of the Bahamas, notwithstanding ones color or ethnic upbringing; it will call for more personal commitments to confront the ills of criminal behaviors; and with this said, lets remain focus to create more opportunities meaningfully developed to assist the common persons of the Bahamas, a right earned through servitude to our captures in days of old.
We remain hospitable, The Bahamas, though these are plowing times, times of alarm where we are called to be the best in everything we do. Therefore: ‘forward , upward, onward, together… The Bahamas as a whole Nation must remain.’
C. F. Stubbs, Ceo., Awe
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