The name “Bahamas” comes from Spanish, and it roughly translates to mean “shallow water.”
The Bahamas are located north of the Greater Antilles and southeast of Florida, technically the location of the Bahamas is in the North Atlantic Ocean, and not in the Caribbean, yet sometimes the Bahamas are encompassed as being islands of the Caribbean. A significant percentage of those islands are technically cays, or coral reef islands, and most are uninhabited. The name “Bahamas” comes from Spanish, and it roughly translates to mean “shallow water.” More than 300,000 people live here, making it a relatively populous country. Since winning its independence from the U.K. in 1973, the Bahamas have flourished. Tourism, in particular, is the main thing driving the economy here, so locals tend to cater to visitors and are very welcoming.
WHAT ARE THE BAHAMAS?
The Bahamas are made up of more than 700 islands. It is believed that Christopher Columbus arrived on the Bahamian island of San Salvador in 1492. At the time, it was populated by Arawak Indians. The British first arrived in 1647, and the Bahamas officially became a colony in 1783. Due to its long history with Great Britain, the Bahamas continues to be highly anglicized. English is the official language, and Christianity is practiced by nearly everyone who lives there. Indeed, the country is very religious and boasts the highest ratio of churches in the Caribbean.
Though the Bahamas consist of thousands of islands, only a handful get any real attention from tourists. New Providence Island is home to Nassau, the capital. It’s also where you’ll find the world-famous Atlantis resort. Grand Bahama is best known for its amazing underwater cave systems. Many cruise lines own and operate private resort islands as well. Most of the islands in the Bahamas are long, flat coral reef formations. Smatterings of small, rounded hills appear here and there in some areas. The highest point, Mt. Alvernia, is 63 meters high.
If you’d like to visit the Bahamas, the best time is generally between late December and early May. You can fill your days boating around the islands, noshing on cracked conch, swilling local rum and splashing about in the year-round 80-degree waters. You can also check out art galleries, casinos, forts, museums, monuments and much more. The official currency is the Bahamian dollar, but American currency is widely accepted too.
- Capital city – Nassau
- Language – English
NASSAU, CAPITAL CITY OF BAHAMAS
Nassau is a true feast for the senses. The air is thick with the sweet aroma of tropical flora, locals can be heard bargaining over jewelry, rum cakes and coins at the duty-free shops of Bay Street and cotton candy-colored Georgian-style buildings nearly glow in the historic district. The capital of the Bahamas has a high-energy vibe that will cure any case of cabin fever and delight even the most well-traveled visitors.
There are a few notable museums in the city, and the most interesting is likely the Pirates of Nassau Museum. The world-class collection includes interactive displays complete with recreations of pirate life, cutaways of ships and walk-throughs that make visitors feel like authentic swashbucklers. There is also a great gift store to plunder and a friendly Pirate Bar serving up tall glasses of cool beer.
A modest collection of documents and artifacts is on display at the Bahamas historical Society Museum. The collection tells the story of the islands from the Lucayan era through today, and the admission price is worth it just to see the incredible model of the Santa Luceno, a Spanish galleon.
Nassau is a bustling city filled with vibrant energy, but there are many places to go to catch a break from the chaos. Above the rock perch on Bernard Road is St. Augustine’s Monastery, one of the most imposing yet peaceful places on the islands. Call ahead to schedule a tour of the working monastery.
The Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Park also offer a lovely escape from the sometimes overwhelming action of the city. More than 50 species of animals, reptiles and birds call the zoo home, and indigenous species of flora thrive in the gardens. Visitors can see many animals up close, including West Indian flamingos, monkeys, iguanas, the endangered Bahama parrot, snakes, hutias and caimans.
Kids and adults will both enjoy the Atlantis Waterscape, the world’s largest open-air aquarium. More than 200 species of marine life can be experienced up close, including 14,000 fish. The underwater Plexiglass walkway lets visitors see the creatures like never before, and the park also includes an interpretation of the ruins of Atlantis, a lagoon full of sharks and a lazy river for tubing.
One of the most beautiful buildings in Nassau is the Government House, a cheery pink Georgian structure that tops Mount Fitzwilliam and houses the country’s governor-general. Walking the grounds is permitted, but visitors must schedule interior tours in advance and a military guard is a required chaperone. Twice each month, visitors are welcome to watch the changing of the guard and to sit for tea with the wife of the governor-general.
Blackbeard’s Tower is another popular tourist attraction in the city. The cut-stone tower sits just south of Fort Montagu and offers an outstanding view of Nassau.
Other sights worth exploring in Nassau include the bustling Rawson Square, the lovely gardens at the Bahamas National Trust, the white-sand Cable Beach, the 18th-century Balcony House and the Eastern Cemetery, where pirates and other rascals are buried in above-ground tombs.
Nassau is the largest city, capital and commercial center of The Bahamas. According to 2010 census, Nassau was home to nearly 250,000 residents, which is 70% of The Bahamas total population.
THE CITY OF NASSAU WAS FIRST FORMALLY KNOWN AS CHARLES TOWN BEFORE IT WAS BURNED TO THE GROUND IN 1684 BY THE SPANISH AND WAS REBUILT 9 YEARS LATER TO BE NAMED NASSAU.
English is the official language used in Nassau, Bahamas.
NASSAU PREDOMINANT RELIGION
The predominant religion in Bahamas is Christianity, with other religions being accepted.
The Bahamian dollar is the official currency of Nassau, Bahamas and is based off the U.S. dollar as well as being equivalent to.
The climate in Nassau is known as tropical monsoon with pretty consistent temperatures throughout the entire year, regardless of the season. Exceeding temperatures of 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celcius) during the summer, Nassau hardly ever goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C) during the winter with an average daily temperature of between 68 and 80 degrees F (20 and 27 C).
NASSAU MAIN ATTRACTIONS
- Rawson Square
- The Queen’s Staircase
- The Water Tower
- Gregory Arch and The Caves
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN NASSAU
- The Lost Blue Hole – hole site
Closest major airport to Nassau, Bahamas
The closest airport is within the city and is Lynden Pindling International Airport.
The airport codes are (NAS/MYNN).
The airport is located just 9.9 miles from the Nassau city center and features daily flights to the United States, United Kingdom, the Caribbean and Canada.
The name Bahamas is of Lucayan Taino (Arawakan) derivation, although some historians believe it is from the Spanish bajamar, meaning “shallow water.” The islands occupy a position commanding the gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the entire Central American region. Their strategic location has given the history of The Bahamas a unique and often striking character. It was there that Christopher Columbus made his original landfall in the Americas. The subsequent fate of the peaceful original inhabitants remains one of the more tragic episodes in the development of the entire region, while the early attempts at European-dominated settlement were marked by intense national rivalries, interspersed with long periods of lawlessness and piracy. As a result, the society and culture that has evolved in The Bahamas is a distinctive blend of European and African heritages, the latter a legacy of the slave trade and the introduction of the plantation system using African slaves. The islands, lacking natural resources other than their agreeable climate and picturesque beaches, have become heavily dependent on the income generated by the extensive tourist facilities and the financial sector that have been developed, often as a result of the injection of foreign capital. The continued popularity of the islands with tourists, largely from North America, has helped to maintain a relatively high standard of living among the population, most of whom are of African descent. The capital, Nassau, is located on small but important New Providence Island.
Lying to the north of Cuba and Hispaniola, the archipelago comprises nearly 700 islands and cays, only about 30 of which are inhabited, and more than 2,000 low, barren rock formations. It stretches more than 500 miles (800 km) southeast-northwest between Grand Bahama Island, which has an area of 530 square miles (1,373 square km) and lies about 60 miles (100 km) off the southeastern coast of the U.S. state of Florida, and Great Inagua Island, some 50 miles (80 km) from the eastern tip of Cuba. The islands other than New Providence are known collectively as the Out (Family) Islands. They include Grand Bahama, which contains the major settlements of Freeport and West End; Andros (2,300 square miles [6,000 square km]), the largest island of The Bahamas; Abaco, or Great Abaco, (372 square miles [963 square km]); and Eleuthera (187 square miles [484 square km]), the site of one of the early attempts at colonization.
Relief and soils
The Bahamas occupies an irregular submarine tableland that rises out of the depths of the Atlantic Ocean and is separated from nearby lands to the south and west by deepwater channels. Extensive areas of flatland, generally a few feet in elevation, are the dominant topographic features of the major islands; the Bimini group (9 square miles [23 square km]), for example, has a maximum elevation of only 20 feet (6 metres). A number of islands fronting the Atlantic have a range or series of ranges of hills on the northeastern side that parallel the longer axes of the islands. These ranges are formed of sand washed ashore and blown inland by the trade winds. The newer hills adjacent to the seashore are normally sand dunes. Solidity increases toward the interior, where the particles become cemented to form Bahama limestone. Eleuthera and Long Island (230 square miles [596 square km]) have the greatest number of hills exceeding 100 feet (30 metres). The highest point in The Bahamas, Mount Alvernia, at 206 feet (63 metres), is on Cat Island (150 square miles [388 square km]). Beneath the soil, the islands are composed of limestone rock and skeletal remains of coral fossils and other marine organisms. There are no rivers, but several islands—particularly New Providence, San Salvador (63 square miles [163 square km]), and Great Inagua—have large lakes. There is abundant fresh water on Andros Island.