PwC The Bahamas: About Us: Geography & History

Geography

The Bahamas is an archipelago comprised of approximately 700 islands, rocks and cays spanning about 100,000 square miles (260,000 square kilometers), located only 50 miles south of the Florida coast. The estimated land area is about 5382 square miles and is surrounded by some of the clearest, most pristine waters in the world.

The country’s capital city, Nassau, is located on the island of New Providence situated about 190 miles (306 kilometers) from Miami, Florida. Even though it is one of the smaller islands at only 21 by 7 miles, approximately two thirds of the country’s population resides on New Providence. The second largest city is Freeport and is located on the island of Grand Bahama, approximately 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Miami, Florida.

Typically low lying, the islands are composed mainly of limestone islands and the highest point in The Bahamas is Mt. Alvernia located on Cat Island which is 206 feet above sea level. The country is home to the third longest barrier reef in the world.

History

Christopher Columbus first made landfall in The Bahamas on October 12, 1492 during his first voyage to the Western hemisphere on the island of San Salvador, then called Guanahani. The original inhabitants of the islands were the Arawaks, native Indians who later disappeared from entry into slavery or exposure to European diseases.

Over time, the control of the islands passed from Spanish to British rule, with the first permanent settlement being established in 1647 by a group of British pilgrims referred to as the Eleutheran Adventurers. The country remained as a crown colony of the United Kingdom until 1964 when Britain granted the country limited self-government. The islands of The Bahamas became a Commonwealth nation in the year 1969 and after 325 years of British rule, the country gained its independence on July 10, 1973 becoming a free and sovereign nation.

As a result of the country’s proximity to the United States, various events in US history, such as the Civil War and Prohibition, also played an important role in the development of these islands.