Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba
Conditional reduction of currency
Climate, average max and min t°
Tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream; avg. maximum temperature (July) +35°; avg. minimum temperature (January) +18°
Time difference from Moscow
- 7 hours
Black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%
Taino people moved into the uninhabited southern Bahamas from Hispaniola and Cuba around the 11th century AD, having migrated there from South America. They came to be known as the Lucayans. An estimated 30,000 Lucayans inhabited the Bahamas at the time of Christopher Columbus' arrival in 1492.
The Spanish forced much of the Lucayan population to Hispaniola for use as forced labor; together with suffering from exposure to diseases to which they had no immunity, they suffered high fatalities. The population of the Bahamas was severely diminished. Half of the Tainos were killed by smallpox after Columbus's arrival in the Bahamas.
Historians had long believed that Europeans generally did not begin to colonize the islands until the mid-17th century. However, recent research suggests that there may have been attempts to settle the islands by groups from Spain, France, and Britain, as well as by other Amerindians. In 1648, the Eleutherian Adventurers, led by William Sayle, migrated from Bermuda. These English Puritans established the first permanent European settlement on an island which they named Eleuthera—the name derives from the Greek word for freedom.
In 1670 King Charles II granted the islands to the Lords Proprietors of the Carolinas, who rented the islands from the king with rights of trading, tax, appointing governors, and administering the country. In 1684 Spanish corsair Juan de Alcon raided the capital, Charles Town (later renamed Nassau). In 1703 a joint Franco-Spanish expedition briefly occupied the Bahamian capital during the War of the Spanish Succession.
During proprietary rule, the Bahamas became a haven for pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard. Britain made the Bahamas a crown colony in 1718 under the royal governorship of Woodes Rogers.
In 1782, following the British defeat at Yorktown, a Spanish fleet appeared off the coast of Nassau, and the city surrendered without a fight. Spain returned possession of the Bahamas to Britain the following year, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
The British Parliament authorized the islands as internally self-governing in 1964. In 1973, the Bahamas became fully independent as a Commonwealth realm, retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.
parliamentary constitutional monarchy
prime minister and his cabinet
bicameral Parliament: Senate (16 members) and House of Assembly (38 members)
Privy Council in London, High Court, magistrate courts
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