History of The Bahamas

The original inhabitants of the Bahamas were a tribe of Arawaks.  Cave paintings depict that the Siboney Indians first resided on the islands about 7,000 years ago, surviving on conch and fishing.

The name “Bahamas” is derived from the Spanish word Bajamar meaning shallow waters.

Enter Christopher Columbus in 1492, an event that ushered in a time when the Spanish shipped out local Indians as slaves.  Finally the slave trade was abolished in 1807 by the British Empire.

History of Bahamas

Meanwhile, in the 17th century the Bahamas were favorite sailing grounds of notorious pirates like Henry Jennings and Edward Teach (Blackbeard).

The nest of pirates was sorted out in 1718 with the aid of the Bahamas’ first Royal Governor (a former privateer), and the new motto was “Expulsis Piratis – Restituta Commercia (Pirates Expelled – Commerce Restored).

Next on the time line of cultural influences was the influx of Loyalist refugees from the American Revolution.  During the American Civil War the Bahamas was the staging area for the transfer of munitions and supplies for blockage runners moving cotton from Southern states in the U.S.

During Prohibition, liquor was run illicitly between Nassau and US ports of call.  Yankees flocked to Nassau for its casino.  The United States established diplomatic relations with The Bahamas in 1973 following its independence from the United Kingdom.

Much of the cultural influences of these early centuries are manifest to-date as evidenced by the social traditions and the expressive attitudes of island residents.