Bahamas is an independent nation in North America. With the capital city of Nassau, Bahamas 2020 population is estimated at 393,255 according to countryaah. Only a few decades after the arrival of the Europeans in the Bahamas in 1492, the indigenous population had died as a result of slavery and disease in the colonialist’s path. From the 17th century, the Bahamas was colonized by Englishmen. Piracy became a dominant business. In the 1960s, the foundation of Bahamas independence was laid.
The archipelago that today constitutes the Bahamas was probably populated from the 500’s by the Arab-speaking people of Taino who came in canoes from the islands of the Greater Antilles in the south. The people, who in the Bahamas called themselves lucaya, lived by agriculture and fishing. On October 12, 1492, according to most researchers, Christofer Columbus landed on one of the islands of the Bahamas, and for the first time set foot in the “New World”. It was probably the island of San Salvador.
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Because the islands are barren and lack precious minerals, the Spaniards showed little interest in the indigenous people. However, the colonists needed more slaves in the gold mines on the island of Hispaniola, and Lucia was therefore forced to move there. As early as 1520, the archipelago was de-populated.
For over a century, the Bahamas was mostly a terror for seafarers with their reefs and grits. By the middle of the 17th century, the islands were re-colonized, by English Puritans from Bermuda. The economic activity was dominated by piracy and wreckage. For over a decade in the early 18th century, a “pirate republic” was maintained and pure anarchy prevailed. Thousands of pirates worked in Nassau before a British governor regained control in 1718.
After the American War of Independence in the 1780s, many royalist colonialists moved in from the United States, and many of them brought slaves with them. The population increased rapidly, and the proportion of blacks in the population increased even faster. Many of them were freed from slavery even before it was completely abolished by the British in 1834. Around 5,000 Africans were also exempted during the decades before by the British fleet from Spanish slave ships, and ended up in the Bahamas.
The smugglers’ paradise
The American Civil War 1861-1865 saw a boom as the Bahamas became a hub for the trade of the blocked southern states. After the war, half a century of economic decline followed. Only during the period 1920-1933, when alcohol was banned in the United States, did the next upswing come. The Bahamas became the spirit of the smugglers.
During the Second World War, the military presence of the Allies helped to strengthen the economy. In the 1950s, a conscious investment in tourism and finance was initiated. The Bahamas became the most flourishing tourist and tax haven in the entire Caribbean.
From the 1600s and over 300 years onwards, all political and economic life was dominated by the white elite who went by the name “Bay Street Boys” (after the main business street in Nassau). The political consciousness of the blacks was aroused after a violent street protest in 1942, the so-called Burma Road riots. The protest was about open wage discrimination against black Bahamas when the United States was building a military airport. In 1953, Bahamas first political party, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), founded the blacks. The white elite responded by forming the Bahamas United Party (UBP).
In the 1960s, the foundation of Bahamas independence was laid. In 1964, the colony gained internal autonomy. After constitutional changes, elections were held in 1967 and the black majority for the first time formed government. The Prime Minister became PLP leader Lynden Pindling. “Bay Street Boys” saw their influence wane when PLP won an even more convincing majority in a new election the following year, 1968. What remained of UBP then, together with defectors from PLP, formed a new opposition party, the Free National Movement (FNM). In the 1972 elections, however, the PLP retained its majority in parliament and Pindling was able to bring the country to independence more strongly the following year.