Bahamas People and History
Way, way back to as early as 500 to 800, the Lucayan people (who were a strain of the Taino tribes that spoke Arawakan) made their way to the southernmost area of the Bahamas, Great Inagua Island. Only armed with minimal supplies and dug-out-of-trees canoes, and they began to settle the different, larger areas around what is now known as the Bahamas. The population of the Lucayan people grew over the next few hundred years, to the tune of over forty thousand. Living in perfect harmony and as a thriving civilization, the Lucayan people were on the cusp to having the Spanish Empire change all of that.
By the 14th Century, like so many other countries around the world, Christopher Columbus ended up wiggling through the Bahamas as he was making his way to Asia. As he was known to do, Christopher Columbus claimed the island of Guanahani (named by the Lucayans) for Spain, and re-named it San Salvador. The Spanish soon made short work of forcing the Lucayan people into slavery, and to serve the Spanish in other islands. By the 15th Century, the Spanish, having returned to San Salvador to equip themselves with more slaves, only found eleven Lucayan people left, meaning they had already depleted the over forty thousand Lucayan peoples over a period of almost thirty years.
With no apparent wealth of minerals, and having relocated the entire Lucayan population from the Bahamas, the Spanish abandoned the islands for good. It wasn’t until the 17th Century that the Spanish forked over all claims to the Bahamas to the British in lieu of receiving title to a part of eastern Florida. Before the British took over however, the 15th and 16th Centuries seen many other cultures try to settle in the Bahamas. One group of people from Bermuda (who ended up being called the Eleuthera colony) were the only ones that stayed and battled against poor agricultural conditions and occasional attacks from the Spanish. They moved around and finally settled on Harbour Island and Spanish Wells.
Bahamians soon discovered that they could make a very good living off of ‘wrecking’, even though they were leaning heavily on sales from fishing, making salt, hunting sea life (whales, turtles, and seals), and dropping hardwood trees for numerous uses. Shipwrecks were an often occurrence around the Bahamas because of its location, which was ideally close to the routes for sailors going to and fro from the Caribbean and Europe.
Now enters the age of pirates, and all things privateer and wrecking. Although the Bahamians constantly faced conflict with the Spanish over shipwrecks, the Bahamians prevailed and thrived off the lucrative wreckage salvaging business (with the assistance of privateers/pirates that also fought the Spanish against wreckage salvaging). In retaliation and in the late 16th Century, the Spanish leveled Eleuthera and even New Providence, by burning every settlement they could find. Two years later, it was people from Jamaica that began to rebuild New Providence and settled there.
Throughout the following years, the Bahamas was fraught with multiple cultural issues, being used by military factions, and being thrown headfirst into many political problems. The strong endure, and thus came into effect, the Afro-Bahamian, Euro Bahamians, and African cultures that exists today.
The English-speaking Bahamian people of the Bahamas are warm, friendly people that enjoy visitors from other countries (you may hear a splattering of the Bahamian dialect here and there). Through the diversity of culturally rich people, you will find different ‘tones’ throughout the Bahamas. In the Family Islands, there are more handmade items from locally-sourced materials, in the city of Nassau, there are more modern themes with cuisines, items for sale, and sports (Cricket is the national sport).