With 700 islands sprinkled out over 100,000 sq miles of ocean, The Bahamas offers the largest assortment of vacation spots of any tropical destination. Islands are circled by cays (pronounced “keys”). Some cays are surrounded by uninhabited rocks. Which island or cay is right for your vacation? Well, you won’t know until you know more about our 14 main islands that serve as hubs for the remaining 686 islands.

A 100,000-sq-mile archipelago that extends over 500 miles of the clearest water in the world, the Islands of the Bahamas consists of the following 14 main islands:

  1. Nassau/Paradise Island
  2. Grand Bahama Island
  3. The Out Islands
  4. The Abacos
  5. Acklins/Crooked Island
  6. Andros
  7. The Berry Islands
  8. Bimini
  9. Cat Island
  10. Eleuthera/Harbour Island
  11. The Exumas
  12. Inagua
  13. Long Island
  14. Mayaguana

The geography of the islands attracted many well- known pirates, such as the infamous Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, and Anne Bonney, who dominated the islands for the next 70 Years in what was known as "The Golden Age of Piracy." Their chief occupation was luring unsuspecting ships into the treacherous, shallow waters, then pouncing on and plundering them like insects trapped in a spider's web.

Britain, which claimed islands in 1670, remained powerless against their predations for almost 50 years, until the first governor, Woodes Rogers, drove them out in 1718. Britain then recognized them as a colony.

Troubled times in neighboring America often meant prosperity for The Bahamas. In 1861, during the American Civil War years, the Union Navy blockaded the islands in an attempt to cripple the Confederacy, and Bahamians grew rich running Confederate cotton to English mills and sending military equipment to Confederate rebels.

Hard times followed the end of the Civil War until Prohibition and the "Roaring Twenties" transformed The Bahamas into a base for rum-running. But after Prohibition was repealed, the islands again lapsed into economic stagnation.

The new industry of tourism changed the priorities in the islands. For the first time, the beauty and life of the islands were recognized as an asset. When Cuba was closed to US tourists in the 1950's, The Bahamas forged ahead to become one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.

Great Britain granted the islands self-government in 1964 and changed their status from colony to Commonwealth in 1969. The Bahamas gained independence from Britain on July 10, 1973. The new nation was admitted to the United Nations the same year.

The Bahamas have a population of 310,000, concentrated on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama. Andros Island is the largest island of the Bahamas and has the world's third-largest barrier reef.

It is still unclear as to the origin of the name JUNKANOO. The name given to the Bahamian Carnival.

It is said that it comes from the French "L'inconnu (meaning the unknown), others suggest it references the masks worn by the Scottish settlers, the most popular theory is accredited to that of the African slave leader John Canoe, which states that he gave his slaves time off to celebrate Christmas Day, and the slaves named the celebration after him.

Wherever the name originated it is completely Bahamian and is totally accepted by all as such. The party begins the day after Christmas Day (Boxing Day- December 26th) and climaxes on January 1st


Information provided courtesy of: Caribbean Association Midwest America