In 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the Western Hemisphere in The Bahamas. He encountered friendly Arawak Indians and exchanged gifts with them.
Spanish slave traders later captured native Lucayan Indians to work in gold mines in Hispaniola, and within 25 years, all Lucayans perished. In 1647, a group of English and Bermudan religious refugees, the Eleutheran Adventurers, founded the first permanent European settlement in The Bahamas and gave Eleuthera Island its name. Similar groups of settlers formed governments in The Bahamas until the islands became a British Crown Colony in 1717.
The first Royal Governor, a former pirate named Woodes Rogers, brought law and order to The Bahamas in 1718, when he expelled the buccaneers who had used the islands as hideouts. After the American Revolution the King of England issued land grants to a group of British Loyalists. Many of the current inhabitants are descended from the slave population brought ot work on the Loyalist plantations. During the American Civil War, The Bahamas prospered as a center of Confederate blockade-running. After World War I, the islands served as a base for American rumrunners. During World War II, the Allies centered their flight training and antisubmarine operations for the Caribbean in The Bahamas. Since then, The Bahamas has developed into a major tourist and financial services center.
When Europeans first arrived, they reported the Bahamas were lushly forested. The forests were cleared during plantation days and have not regrown.
- history of the Caribbean
- history of the Americas
- European colonization of the Americas
- Spanish colonization of the Americas
- British colonization of the Americas
- history of present-day nations and states