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BAHAMAS: Culture

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Your Bahama cell phone rental will make discovering this culturally rich country a breeze.



Bahamian culture is like no other. It has embraced a panorama of native customs of the indigenous "Indian" people who populated the Islands of the Bahamas over the eons. Then Bahamian culture suddenly underwent an abrupt change beginning in 1648 when English Puritans settled on the island of Eleuthera.

It has further evolved over the past four centuries, witnessing the arrival of Bermudan slaves and free blacks, British Loyalists (accompanied by slaves) fleeing America after the War of Independence, freed Africans from slave ships, Black Seminoles from Florida, people from other Caribbean islands, as well as Chinese, Syrian and Greek immigrants. These people - with their different backgrounds, traditions and beliefs - shaped Bahemian culture and the colorful patchwork of life and lifestyles that it is today.

From 1861 until 1865, the boom and bust economy of The Islands Of The Bahamas benefited greatly from the U.S. Civil War. Great Britain's textile industry depended on Southern cotton, so it favoured the Confederacy. However, British ships could not reach Southern ports because the Union blockaded them.

Thus, blockade runners in sleek, fast boats would travel the 560 miles from Charleston to Nassau with loads of cotton. Here, they would meet up with British vessels and would trade their cotton for goods the British carried. Returning to Charleston, the blockade runners would sell their shipments for huge profits.

The end of the Civil War meant the end of prosperity for The Islands Of The Bahamas until 1919. When the United States passed the 14th Amendment prohibiting alcohol, smuggling returned to the islands. Scotch whisky was an important British export for The Islands Of The Bahamas, so the colonial government greatly expanded Prince George Wharf in Nassau to accommodate the huge flow of alcohol. However, Prohibition ended in 1934 and with it the enormous revenues that poured into the country. The end of Prohibition, combined with the collapse of the profitable sponge harvesting industry a few years later, was economically devastating to The Islands Of The Bahamas.

The tourism industry began in the mid-19th century with government support for the construction of hotels and subsidised steamship service. Tourism once again blossomed in the 1920s when Prohibition brought well-to-do American tourists to the islands. The influx of visitors increased the demand for food, lodging and other items. Consequently, the banking industry boomed as the Islands of the Bahamas built new hotels, warehouses, bars, distilleries and wharves. After the repeal of Prohibition, the Islands of the Bahamas went into an economic slump that lasted until the 1940s and World War II, when it served as an air and sea way-station in the Atlantic. Our international cell phone rentals will make it easy for you to locate and visit these historical sites.

Construction of the base brought jobs to many people. Then in 1961, when Cuba (with its glitzy casinos and beach resorts) was closed to American tourists, the Islands of the Bahamas' good fortune began. Capitalizing on its close proximity to the United States, the government of the Islands of the Bahamas set out to increase the number of people who visited it each year. It dredged Nassau's harbour so it could accommodate up to six cruise ships at a time and it built a bridge connecting Nassau to Paradise Island. In 1964, Great Britain granted the Islands of the Bahamas limited self-government, and in 1969 the colony of The Bahamas became a Commonwealth. It then legally became a nation on July 10, 1973, which is celebrated today as Bahamian Independence Day.


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