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Travel Guide 2   >   Bahamas   >   History

   
 

Bahaman History


The first definite evidence of human settlement in the Bahamas dates to the 7th century AD. A seafaring people, the Taino (who later came to be known to Europeans as "Lucayans") are known to have migrated into the archipelago from Hispaniola and Cuba.

Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World at San Salvador Island (also known as Watling's Island) in the southern Bahamas in 1492. There is believed to have been a population of around 40,000 Lucayans at the time of Columbus' landing, but within a quarter century, the entire people had been virtually eliminated by disease, warfare, and deportation and the imposition of slavery (many Lucayans were taken to Hispaniola as slaves).

English settlers began to arrive in the Bahamas in 1647, which were by that time, virtually unoccupied. The islands became a British crown colony in 1717, and following the American Revolution (1775 to 1783), around 8,000 loyalists and their slaves arrived in the islands. After the ending of slavery on the islands in 1834, the population was further boosted by a steady trickle of fugitive slaves from the United States.

Britain granted full internal self-government to the islands in 1964, and in 1973, the islands became fully independent (although remaining a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and with the British Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of the Bahamas). The Bahamas joined CARICOM (at the time called "Caribbean Community and Common Market") in 1974, and after many years of prolonged economic growth, today has the 3rd highest GDP in the western hemisphere (after the United States and Canada).

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Books about Bahaman History


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Bahamas (Discovering the Caribbean: History, Politics, and Culture)

By Colleen Madonna Flood Williams

Mason Crest
Library Binding (64 pages)

Bahamas (Discovering the Caribbean: History, Politics, and Culture)
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Product Description:
Introduces the Bahamas, describing its history, politics, culture, and geography.

Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960

By Gail Saunders

University Press of Florida
Released: 2017-10-16
Paperback (400 pages)

Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960
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In this one-of-a-kind study of race and class in the Bahamas, Gail Saunders shows how racial tensions were not necessarily parallel to those across other British West Indian colonies but instead mirrored the inflexible color line of the United States. Proximity to the U.S. and geographic isolation from other British colonies created a uniquely Bahamian interaction among racial groups. Focusing on the post-emancipation period from the 1880s to the 1960s, Saunders considers the entrenched, though extra-legal, segregation prevalent in most spheres of life that lasted well into the 1950s.

Saunders traces early black nationalist and pan-Africanism movements, as well as the influence of Garveyism and Prohibition during World War I. She examines the economic depression of the 1930s and the subsequent boom in the tourism industry, which boosted the economy but worsened racial tensions: proponents of integration predicted disaster if white tourists ceased traveling to the islands. Despite some upward mobility of mixed-race and black Bahamians, the economy continued to be dominated by the white elite, and trade unions and labor-based parties came late to the Bahamas. Secondary education, although limited to those who could afford it, was the route to a better life for nonwhite Bahamians and led to mixed-race and black persons studying in professional fields, which ultimately brought about a rising political consciousness. Training her lens on the nature of relationships among the various racial and social groups in the Bahamas, Saunders tells the story of how discrimination persisted until at last squarely challenged by the majority of Bahamians.

History of the Bahamas

By Michael Craton

Brand: San Salvador Press
Paperback (332 pages)

History of the Bahamas
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Book by Craton, Michael

Abaco, the History of an Out Island and Its Cays

By Steve Dodge

White Sound Press
Paperback (270 pages)

Abaco, the History of an Out Island and Its Cays
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This expanded and updated third edition has new sections, and many revisions. This is the only general, comprehensive history of Abaco, Bahamas available; it covers from the geologic formation of the Bahama Banks to the middle 1990s. It is easy and interesting to read and reads more like a novel than a history text. Cover art by Randy Curry,; illustrations by Laurie Jones. 112 illustrations, photographs, and maps. Appendix on boat building in Abaco.

Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People: Volume One: From Aboriginal Times to the End of Slavery

By Michael Craton

Brand: University of Georgia Press
Released: 1999-04-01
Paperback (496 pages)

Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People: Volume One: From Aboriginal Times to the End of Slavery
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From two leading historians of Bahamian history comes this groundbreaking work on a unique archipelagic nation. Islanders in the Stream is not only the first comprehensive chronicle of the Bahamian people, it is also the first work of its kind and scale for any Caribbean nation. This comprehensive volume details the full, extraordinary history of all the people who have ever inhabited the islands and explains the evolution of a Bahamian national identity within the framework of neighboring territories in similar circumstances.

Divided into three sections, this volume covers the period from aboriginal times to the end of formal slavery in 1838. The first part includes authoritative accounts of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World on San Salvador island, his voyage through the Bahamas, and the ensuing disastrous collision of European and native Arawak cultures. Covering the islands’ initial settlement, the second section ranges from the initial European incursions and the first English settlements through the lawless era of pirate misrule to Britain’s official takeover and development of the colony in the eighteenth century. The third, and largest, section offers a full analysis of Bahamian slave society through the great influx of Empire Loyalists and their slaves at the end of the American Revolution to the purported achievement of full freedom for the slaves in 1838.

This work is both a pioneering social history and a richly illustrated narrative modifying previous Eurocentric interpretations of the islands’ early history. Written to appeal to Bahamians as well as all those interested in Caribbean history, Islanders in the Stream looks at the islands and their people in their fullest contexts, constituting not just the most thorough view of Bahamian history to date but a major contribution to Caribbean historiography.

A History of the Bahamas

By Michael CRATON

Collins
Hardcover

A History of the Bahamas
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The Bahamas in American History

By Keith Tinker

Xlibris, Corp.
Paperback (170 pages)

The Bahamas in American History
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