30-Jun-2002 -- After having visited an offshore point off Cuba we
proceeded through the Straits of Florida towards the North West Providence Channel,
separating the Little Bahama Bank from the Great Bahama Bank.
In this Channel there is the confluence 26°N/78°W.
Closest to the confluence there is a group of tiny low
islands, the Berry Islands, a group of wooded cays 15 to 18 metres high, with Little Stirrup
Cay, Great Stirrup Cay
The tourist season is already in full swing, and we were watching a
Norwegian passenger ship, just anchoring off Little
Then we went closer to Little Stirrup Cay, in order to make a picture
showing more details.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an archipelago consisting of some 700 low
lying islands and over 2,000 cays and rocks, many of which are barren,
windswept and uninhabited.
These islands extend about 900 km ESE from about 90 km off the Florida coast
to Great Inagua Island, N of the Windward Passage (the channel separating
Cuba from Hispaniola).
The Bahamas were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, who, at present,
is generally believed to have made his first landfall on San Salvador
Having removed the indigenous population to work as slaves in Hispaniola
(the island with the today's two countries Haïti and Dominican Republic on
it), the Spaniards made no attempt to settle the islands and they remained
uninhabited until 1629, when they were given their first Constitution as
part of the Carolinas. The first settlers came from Bermuda.
In 1647 a company of "Eleutheran Adventures" was formed in London for the
purpose of colonizing the islands and in 1670, yet further grant was made
by Charles II, vesting the islands in six Lord Proprietors.
For the next hundred years the islands passed through troublesome times,
becoming a base for pirates. The islands were invaded from time to time and
for a short period were occupied by the Spanish.
They were finally ceded to Britain in 1783.
Their subsequent history was greatly influenced by events in the United
States, including the Civil War and Prohibition.
The Bahama Islands achieved internal self government in 1965 and full
independence in 1975.
The population is about 250,000, of which about 85% are of African origin.
The economy of the Bahamas is based on tourism, financial service and
shipping (open register, flag of convenience). At Freeport on Grand Bahama
Island there is a free trade zone and a container terminal, serving as a
distribution hub for the Caribbean.
(Information obtained partly from Nautical Publication Nr. 70, West
Indies Pilot, Vol I, 2nd ed. 1993 and Supplement Nr. 2 ed. 1998, British
Admiralty, Hydrographer of the Navy, Ministry of Defense, Taunton, England)