The Bahamas was the site of Columbus‘ first landfall in the New World in 1492. At that time these Caribbean islands were inhabited by the Lucayan, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taino people. Although the Spanish never colonised the Bahamas they shipped the native Lucayans to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648 when English colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.
The Bahamas became a British Crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. After the American War of Independence the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists in the Bahamas. They brought their slaves with them and established plantations on land grants. Africans constituted the majority of the population from this period. The Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves: the Royal Navy resettled Africans here liberated from illegal slave ships; American slaves and Seminoles escaped here from Florida; and the government freed American slaves carried on United States ships that had reached the Bahamas due to weather. Slavery in the Bahamas was abolished in 1834. Today the descendants of slaves and free Africans make up nearly 90% of the population and issues related to the slavery years are an integral part of their society.
In terms of gross domestic product per person the Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas following the United States and Canada. Its economy is based on tourism and finance. A holiday in the Bahamas is one of the most popular in the world and everybody just knows that if you had one you had a fantastic time and will be going again – if you can afford it! 😉