29 islands against a backdrop of blue
The islands of the Bahamas are well known as a tourist paradise and include some of the most popular resorts, beaches and diving waters in the West Indies, if not the world. An English speaking, independent nation and former British colony, the Bahamas boast the third highest per capita income in the western hemisphere. Popular sports on the islands include sailing, cricket, and track and field. Beyond the resorts, sun, surf and sand, the Bahamian folk religion of Obeah and Junkanoo – a lively carnival of art, music and dance – highlight the African culture and heritage of these islands, while the lovely pastel buildings harken back to colonial times. Some 330,000 people live in the Bahamas, the overwhelming majority in the capital city of Nassau (on New Providence Island), noted for its exciting international nightlife and relaxed, tropical pace of life. Paradise Island, connected to nearby Nassau by two bridges, is home to the massive Atlantis Resort, water park and Las Vegas style casino complex. It is the source of 11% of the country’s GNP. Grand Bahama Island offers a blend of historic charm and natural marvels, including three national parks. Some small islands or cays are actually owned by private companies, such as Disney cruise lines. The Biminis are a group of small islands, which are geographically the closest to the United States and were once home to Earnest Hemingway. They are considered by some to be the “deep sea fishing capital of the world” and are also a highly regarded location for snorkeling and scuba diving. Andros Island, the biggest island in the Bahamas, has the world’s third largest barrier reef (230 km long) but is the least developed for tourism and therefore the most pristine. Overall, the Bahamas provide several choice options for luxury holidays, from beach resort vacations and “high rolling” casinos to sailing or diving in clear turquoise waters and exploring unspoiled remote ecosystems.