Bahamas Independence Day is celebrated today.
The country gained its independence from Great Britain in 1973. Nassau, on New Providence Island, is the capital and the largest city. An island country in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida and Cuba comprising some 700 islands and islets and numerous cays.
Bahamas Independence Day History
The islands were inhabited by Lucayan Tainos when Christopher Columbus sighted them on Oct. 12, 1492. The Spaniards made no attempt to settle but carried out slave raids that depopulated the islands; when English settlers arrived in 1648 from Bermuda, the islands were uninhabited.
They became a haunt of pirates and buccaneers, and few of the ensuing settlements prospered. The islands enjoyed some prosperity following the American Revolution, when loyalists fled the U.S. and established cotton plantations there. The islands were a centre for blockade runners during the American Civil War. Not until the development of tourism after World War II did permanent economic prosperity arrive. The Bahamas was granted internal self-government in 1964 and became independent in 1973.
Bahamas Independence Day Traditions and Activities
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 during this day. Another use is for so-called “Voodoo dolls,” despite the fact that such dolls are the result of the American imagination and not based on historic fact.
Obeah, a religion of folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from Central African and West African origins, is practiced in some of the Family Islands (out-islands) of the Bahamas. Junkanoo is a street parade of music, dance, and art held in many cities of the Bahamas.
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. Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the “Pineapple Fest” in Gregory Town.
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