Bahamas

 

History of Bahamas

Bahamas Flag
Flag

The Arawak Indians were the first inhabitants of the Bahamas. Columbus's first encounter with the New World was on Oct. 12, 1492, when he landed on the Bahamian island of San Salvador. The British first built settlements on the islands in the 17th century. In the early 18th century, the Bahamas were a favorite pirate haunt.

The Bahamas were a Crown colony from 1717 until they were granted internal self-government in 1964. The islands moved toward greater autonomy in 1968 after the overwhelming victory in general elections of the Progressive Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling, over the predominantly white United Bahamians Party. With its new mandate from the black population (85% of Bahamians), Pindling's government negotiated a new constitution with Britain under which the colony became the Commonwealth of the Bahama Islands in 1969.

The Hotel and Steam Ship Service Act of 1898 opened its doors to the world. This act provided the government support needed for the construction of hotels and subsidized steamship service. Since then, everything from Prohibition bringing well-to-do Americans to the closure of Cuba to Americans has impacted tourism in our country.

On July 10, 1973, The Bahamas became a free and sovereign country, ending 325 years of peaceful British rule. However, The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and celebrate July 10th as Bahamian Independence Day.

Government

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Bahamas is one of the most politically stable countries in the world. Their constitution is based on the Westminster Model: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Executive Branch, The Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch.

The Bahamas is listed as an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The political and legal traditions of Bahamas closely follow the British ones, owing to their commonwealth membership.

The country has a parliamentary form of democracy and regular elections are held. The Bahamian senate consists of 16 members, who are appointed by the Governor-General. The Governor-General also appoints the Chief Justice on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Privy Council of the United Kingdom serves as the highest appellate court.

The local government districts in Bahamas elect local councils for town planning, business licenses, traffic issues and maintenance of government buildings. Lower level town councils are also accorded minor responsibilities in some large districts.

Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. Although the Bahamas are not geographically located in the Caribbean, it is a member of the Caribbean Community. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English law.

Language

The official language spoken in the Bahamas is English, although, you might hear Bahamian English. It's a mixture of Queen's diction, African influence and island dialect. The "h" is often dropped, so it sounds like "ouse" for "house" or "t'anks" for "thanks."

The locals speak very fast and use indigenous phrases. They are very friendly though, and will always help. Their dialect and idioms were influenced by African slaves, English Puritans and other settlers. Because of this combination, you will hear a unique language found only on The Islands of the Bahamas. For instance, if you hear "day clean" they mean "daybreak" and "first fowl crow" means the first cry a rooster makes in the morning. These idioms are typical of Bahamian English.

Culture

In the less developed outer islands, handicrafts include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called "straw", is plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items. Another use is for so-called "Voodoo dolls," even though such dolls are the result of the American imagination and not based on historic fact.

A form of folk magic (obeah) is practiced by some Bahamians but, mostly the Haitian-Bahamian community, mainly in the Family Islands (out-islands) of The Bahamas. The practice of obeah is, however, illegal in the Bahamas and punishable by law.

Junkanoo is a traditional Bahamian street parade of music, dance, and art held in Nassau (and a few other settlements) every Boxing Dayand New Year's Day. Junkanoo is also used to celebrate other holidays and events such as Emancipation Day.

Regattas are important social events in many family island settlements. They usually feature one or more days of sailing by old-fashioned work boats, as well as an onshore festival.

There are many dishes that are part of Bahamian cuisine and some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the "Pineapple Fest" in Gregory Town, Eleuthera or the "Crab Fest" on Andros. Other significant traditions include story telling.

Bahamians have created a rich literature of poetry, short stories, plays, and short fictional works. Common themes in these works are (1) an awareness of change, (2) a striving for sophistication, (3) a search for identity, (4) nostalgia for the old ways, and (5) an appreciation of beauty. Some contributing writers are Susan Wallace, Percival Miller, Robert Johnson, Raymond Brown, O.M. Smith, William Johnson, Eddie Minnis, Winston Saunders, and many others.

Weather and Climate

Bahamas Climate

The climate of the Bahamas is tropical savannah climate or Aw according to Köppen climate classification. As such, there has never been a frost or freeze ever reported anywhere in the Bahamas – although every few decades low temperatures can fall into the 38°F to 45°F (3°C to 5°C) range for a few hours when a severe cold outbreak comes off the North American landmass. Otherwise, the low latitude, warm tropical Gulf Stream, and low elevation give the Bahamas a warm and winterless climate. There is only a 12°F difference between the warmest month and coolest month in most of the Bahama Islands. Like most tropical climates, seasonal rainfall follows the sun, and summer is the wettest season. The Bahamas are often sunny and dry for long periods of time, and average more than 3000 hours of sunlight annually.

Hurricane Season
This season officially lasts from June to November, but that shouldn't discourage the visitor at all. Reports of bad weather are often less than accurate, causing some U.S. visitors to cancel their vacations for no reason. If the reports do turn out to be true, many Bahamian hotels have a Hurricane Cancellation Policy that mitigates risk. Visitors who cancel during a hurricane can receive an immediate refund with no penalties. If you do happen to get caught in a hurricane, despite everything, hotels will continue to offer courteous service and extend the lowest possible rate.

Rainy Season
Even paradise needs to cool off with a little rain now and then. The islands have rain year-round, which explains the lush vegetation. Squalls and thundershowers pass through quickly, so the rain never has to ruin your day. May and June are the months with most rain, typically with about twice as much falling in the northern islands as in the southern ones.


Entry Requirements

Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories do not require a visa to visit the Bahamas: American Samoa, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Azores, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gambia, Galapagos Islands, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltor, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR passport or CI), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea-South, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montserrat, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norfolk Islands, Norway, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Pitcairn, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Romania, Russia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Saint Marten, Saint Pierre & Miquelon, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tahiti, Tanzania, Tokelau, Trinidad & Tobago, Tonga, Turkey, Turks &Caicos, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States Of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (Us & Uk), Western Samoa, Zambia and Zimbabwe Visitors do not need to complete the Customs form.

If you require a visa to enter the Bahamas, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Bahamian diplomatic post.

Public Holidays

Bahamas Public Holidays 2015
New Year’s Day 1st January
Majority Rule Day 10th January
Good Friday 3rd April
Easter Monday 6th April
Whit Monday 25th May
Labour Day 5th June
Independence Day 10th July
Emancipation Day/August Monday 3rd August
National Heroes Day 12th October
Christmas Day 25th December
Boxing Day 26th December
   

 


Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Bahamas. Exercise normal security precautions.

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

What to wear
Regular casual styled summer clothing can be worn during the day, no matter what time of year it is. If you are traveling to the Bahamas between December and February, you should be sure to bring a sweater or a jacket to wear in the evenings, because the winter months do have cooler evenings than the summer months do. Most of the hotels, casinos and higher end restaurants require men to wear jackets in the evening, particularly on Grand Bahama Island and Nassau.

Though walking the streets in swim trunks in mid-January might sound irresistible, beach clothing is inappropriate on the streets, in churches, restaurants and casinos. Away from beach or pool areas, you are expected to cover your bathing suit with shorts or a long shirt. In the more laid-back remote areas, the dress code is more flexible.

Driving Laws
The Bahamas follows the standard British rules of transportation. This means that driving is done on the left side of the road and navigating the roundabouts can be tricky. The driver entering the roundabout yields the right of way to the traffic coming up on his right side that is already in the roundabout. Tourists can obtain a visitor's license for driving and can also apply for an international driver's license.

Currency
The currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar which is equal to the United States' dollar. The currency and coins are often considered good souvenirs-the most popular of these are the fifteen cent coin and the three dollar bill. Typically shops and casinos do not change currency. You will receive Bahamian change for Bahamian currency and US change for US currency. If you wish to exchange your currency you can do so at your hotel or at a local bank.

Tipping
Tipping in The Islands Of The Bahamas is just like where you're from—tip according to quality of service. Bellboys and porters usually receive $1 per bag, while most other servers (waiters, taxis, etc.) receive 15%. Many establishments include gratuity in the total, so make sure you check your bill to see if it's been added.

The more you know about traveling in The Islands Of The Bahamas, the more prepared you'll be when you arrive.

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