was the 1st European to discover The Bahamas (and hence America)
in 1492. San Salvador was his 1st landing place in the New World,
Cockburn Town, the main settlement, is not far from the spot where
Columbus is said to have landed (although other sites also claim
this characteristic). Columbus met the Lucayan Indians, the traditional
inhabitants of The Bahamas.
The islands were largely ignored by the Spanish
and the 1st European settlement was established by a group of English
religious dissidents, known as the Eleutheran Adventurers, in 1647.
In 1717, the islands were officially colonised by Britain. They
were temporarily occupied by the Spanish in 1782, although returned
to Britain the following year, under the terms of the Treaty of
Thereafter, the Bahamas became a haven for freed slaves and, consequently,
a favourite holiday destination
for the wealthy. The post of Governor, representing the British
monarch, became a remote but pleasant sinecure. The best known incumbent
was the Duke of Windsor, who had renounced the British crown in
1936, and, in view of his pro Nazi sympathies, was despatched to
the territory in 1940, for the duration of World War II.
In 1964, The Bahamas were approved internal self government,
followed by independence in 1973. Post independence politics in
The Bahamas have been dominated by (later Sir) Lynden Pindling,
who had 1st been elected to the premiership as head of the Progressive
Liberal Party (PLP) in 1967. The Progressive Liberal Party , with
Pindling as its head, was returned to office at
each of 5 subsequent elections, despite increasingly numerous and
detailed allegations of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking
against Pindling and some of his associates. All were vehemently
and repeatedly denied by Pindling. Pressure from the United States
of America (which has leased 2 military bases on the islands since
the 1950s) forced the government to introduce more stringent measures
against drug trafficking, including changes to The Bahamas' banking
The damage to Pindling’s reputation and the islands’
poor economic performance during the early 1990's led to the Progressive
Liberal Party’s rejection by the electorate at the August
1992 polls. The new premier was the leader of the long time opposition
Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert Ingraham.
Once a minister under Pindling, Ingraham had resigned in 1984, however
Ingraham was re elected in 1997.
At the most recent poll in May 2002, the Progressive Liberal Party
resumed control of the government with an overwhelming majority
in the House of Assembly. The present premier is Perry Christie,
another veteran Bahamanian politician and former colleague of Pindling.
Pindling retired from politics after his 1992 defeat, followed by
his death in August 2000.
In late 2004, Hurricane Frances caused extensive
and broad damage in The Bahamas. Hurricane Jeanne followed only
weeks later. The future for The Bahamas will almost certainly involve
plans to detect such hurricanes quicker, and try to lessen their