The history of the Bahamas includes the histories of many different peoples. Control of the Bahamas has shifted and changed throughout the centuries, and its current status today as a major tourist destination was not always its main feature. Bahamas cultural history also includes the cultures of varying people and their interactions. Today Bahamas cultural history and the history of the Bahamas can still be observed in some of the historical sites and museums.
As early as 700 AD, Lucayan Indians inhabited the Bahamas, first living on the southern islands and eventually spreading out to inhabit the entire archipelago. The Lucayans lived in relative peace until the year 1492, when Christopher Columbus landed on the islands. It is widely believed that he landed first on San Salvador, although this point is still disputed. With the arrival of Columbus came the arrival of violence and disease, and by the early sixteenth century the Lucayan tribes were mostly destroyed. The islands then remained deserted until the seventeenth century when British settlers began arriving.
In 1718 the history of the Bahamas shifted as the Bahamas became a British crown colony. The islands, however remained largely uninhabited for many years, however, until American Tories began arriving in small waves. British loyalists who either left the newly independent United States of their own accord or who were forced out by the new government often made their way south to the Bahamas. Many of them brought their slaves along as well. It is estimated that about 8,000 loyalists and their slaves made the move to the Bahamas.
The government and culture of the Bahamas stayed basically the same until 1964, when the British government granted the islands internal self government. In 1973 the Bahamas became and independent nation under the Commonwealth of Nations. The economy of the Bahamas has continued to flourish since the 1950s, adding motivation to their desire to be an independent nation. History on the Bahamas reflects that the Bahamas chose of their own accord to remain part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Bahamas cultural history today is most heavily influenced by the loyalist settlers and the slaves they brought with them to the Bahamas. Festivals and events focusing on history on the Bahamas tend toward the celebration of culture of the Bahamas. History on the Bahamas and other information about the culture of the Bahamas can be located through a number of different sources, including most travel guides. You can also make history come alive during your trip to the Bahamas by taking an historical walking tour. Nassau on New Providence Island in particular features one of the best historical walking tours, where you will see the Queens Staircase, visit the Straw Market, and more.
Historical events such as the celebration of Columbus Day on San Salvador Island are still recognized throughout the islands as well. Music such as the traditional junkanoo, a famous form of rhythm music, can also be heard throughout the islands to this day. Whether you travel to the Bahamas to pick up some historical information or simply hope to relax on the beach, the history of the peoples of the islands will surround your vacation.