Brief History of the Bahamas
Christopher Columbus began the first recorded history of the Bahamas upon his arrival to an unknown island somewhere in the Bahamas in 1492. The earliest European settlement began in 1647. 85 percent of the Bahamian population is decedents from the slave trade where Africans were brought to European settlements in the 18th century. July 10, 1973, The Bahamas gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
West End is officially the capital of Grand Bahama Island. Long known for its fishing, West End also boasts a spirited history of rum-runners, arms strugglers and wreckers.
Junkanoo is the main Bahamian Festival and occurs in the early morning hours of December 26th and lasts throughout the day. Reminiscent of Mardi Gras and Carnival, thousands of participants dance through the streets in elaborate costumes. Junkanoo routes can be traced back to the 16th or 17th century, but today Junkanoo is a raucous celebration of freedom.
Most Bahamians are of African descent, about 85 percent. The remaining white population is directly descended from sailors, Loyalists and adventurers. Some families have been Bahamian for over two hundred years. English is the primary language. The love of music and religion are daily aspects of Bahamian living.
The Bahamas is independent from the United Kingdom, but it is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. As a member, The Bahamas still pays allegiance to the British Crown. Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State and the Governor-General of Bahamas. The Bahamas Cabinet acts as the Executive Branch and has control over the Government. This Cabinet is comprised of at least nine Ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Attorney General.