How History Has Shaped The Culture Of The Bahamas Today

The Bahamas are likely the first land seen by Christopher Columbus when he inadvertently arrived in the New World. Since then, English settlements have grown and the culture of the Bahamas has evolved.

Political Peace: Stable Government and Economy

The Bahamas, under British control since 1670, became an official colony of the crown in 1718 after piracy, as well as Spanish and Dutch interests, threatened the stability of the settlement. After over 300 years of English rule, the Bahamas gained independence from Great Britain, becoming a sovereign nation in 1973. The nation had voted democratically and peacefully for over 100 years before this symbolic event.
The islands of the Bahamas have benefited from many American struggles. British loyalist colonists escaped to the island chain (many with slaves) after the American Revolution, which helped to grow the population.
During the American Civil War, nearly 100 years later, the islands became a supply base for the Confederacy. And in the 20th century, Prohibition in the United States brought an economic boom to the Bahamas, where alcohol, particularly rum, was readily available.
Today, offshore finance and tourism fuel the economy.

Historical Sites to Visit While Living in the Bahamas

Retirees will have plenty of exploring to do on the islands of the Bahamas, especially if they are interested in history. Many landmarks and natural sites exists almost unchanged on the islands today.

  • Fort Fincastle: Found in Nassau, this fort was built by Lord Dunmore in 1793. It offers panoramic ocean views.
  • The Caves of New Providence: Less than seven miles from downtown Nassau are the Caves, one of the most fascinating relics of the cultural and geological history of the Bahamas. Natives on the island, the Lucayans, likely inhabited the Caves, and it’s said that Blackbeard and other pirates stored their stolen goods there.
  • The Queen’s Staircase: These 65 steps were carved out of solid limestone by slaves between 1793 and 1794. This site is one of the most-visited attractions in Nassau because of its remarkable construction.

Bahamian Culture: English Influence Over Language and Cuisine

Puritans from England first arrived in the Bahamas in the 1640s, nearly 150 years after Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the New World on the Bahamian island of San Salvador.
The English came in search of religious freedom. Today, English remains the official language of the islands, but many residents speak an English-based creole, often referred to as Bahamian English. The cuisine in the Bahamas also still bears the mark of British influence, especially foods like meat pies, stews and bread.