Facts About The Blissful Bahamas

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Floating lazily over 3,884 sq. km of sea at the top of the Caribbean, are the 700 islands, cays and rocks that are called the Bahamas. The islands are mostly flat stretches of coral with a few rounded hills. The highest point is 206 feet. Three hundred thousand people live on the 13,939 sq. km of island. Each island is unique and unspoilt, a paradise for tourists.

The Bahamas is also a tax free haven for film makers from nearby Hollywood. Among other films the Pirates of the Caribbean was shot on the Great Bahamas Island.

FACT 1: No written history of the archipelago exists before the late 15th century. The discovery of bones, drawings, tools and pottery indicate that the island was inhabited as early as 300 to 400 AD.

FACT 2: The first people on the island were most likely people from Cuba. They were followed by the Lucayan Indians. When Christopher Columbus landed in San Salvador on his historic journey of discovery in 1492, there were 40 000 Lucayan Indians living on the islands.

FACT 3: The name Bahamas comes from the Spanish baja mar, meaning shallow sea. San Salvador the site of the first European landfall in the New World was called Guanahani by the Indians living there. Long Island was called Yuma by the Indians and Fernandina by the Spanish. The British loyalists settled here in 1790 and named the island Long Island.

FACT 4: The Bahamas were a British colony till 10th July 1973. This day is celebrated as Independence Day in the Bahamas. The connection between the British and the Bahamas is still very strong. The Bahamas are a part of the Commonwealth. The Governor General is a representative of the Queen. The British tradition of the Changing of the Guard is still conducted with fanfare. It takes place every two weeks at Governor House, the office and residence of the Governor General. The Bahamas Police Band is in attendance at the ceremony.

FACT 5: Nassau is the capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is the largest city with a population of 248,948 people. It is also the commercial centre of the Bahamas. This cosmopolitan city boasts duty free shops, golf courses, museums and restaurants. It is also known for its deserted white beaches. Casino Royale was shot here.

FACT 6: Inagua is actually a combination of the Great Inagua and the uninhabited Little Inagua. Many rare species of birds live in the Inagua National Park. Large populations of the West Indian Flamingo nest yearly in the Park. These rare exotic birds were saved from near extinction by the Bahamas national Trust.

FACT 7: San Salvador is the peak of a submerged mountain that goes 15.000 feet deep into the ocean. It is famous for its dives to explore shipwrecks, for snorkelling and boating.

FACT 8: The Exumas is a string of 365 islands and cays. Two James Bond movies have been shot here. About half the residents here are named Rolle. In the late 18th century Lord John Rolle the first cotton plantation owner on the islands had 300 slaves. His plantation was facing financial failure and emancipation was certainly going to come about Rolle transferred the deeds of 2,300 acres of cotton plantation to his foremen. As all slaves took their masters surnames the Rolles inherited the Exumas. Other residents include the famous swimming pigs of Exumas.

FACT 9: Long Islands 128 km long and 6 km wide, divided into half by the Tropic of Cancer. It is a world famous spot for snorkelling and bone fishing.

FACT 10: The Junkanoo is an exuberant festival of dance and music that takes place at Christmas time every year. The origin of the festival probably dates back to the days of slavery when slaves were given 3 days off at Christmas. They celebrated this break by donning outlandish masks and dancing through the streets to the beat of huge drums. The festival has been revived and these processions wind their way through the main streets of the various islands from 2 am to 10 am in the morning.

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