The Bahamas receives 70 percent of its income from tourism and gets more visitors than any of the Caribbean Islands. There are few economic choices. The soil supports few crops except those like tomatoes or cucumbers. Most of the islands have limited fresh water. What the Bahamas has is some of the most beautiful sand beaches anywhere, a mostly benign climate, proximity to Florida and good air connections to the major cities of East Coast America.

Though there are said to be some seven hundred islands in the Bahamas, only a few are inhabited. Nassau, the country’s capital, has a majority of the population. It and its sister, Paradise Island (accessible by bridge), have most of the hotels and are shopping centers for cruise passengers. Eleuthera and Grand Bahamas are the other islands with substantial populations. A big appeal for visitors are the casinos on Paradise Island, Nassau, and Grand Bahama.

In Nassau the only interesting buildings are those left from the days when it was a British colony. The Queen’s Staircase, sixty-five steps leading to Fort Fencastle, was hand-carved by slaves in the eighteenth century. Fort Charlotte is one of the many rock fortresses throughout the Caribbean Region. Its dungeons recall the horrors of slavery and of the ever-present fear of raiders and of military attacks from rival European powers. Political tides shifted regularly, nations becoming enemies overnight and ever seeking to expand their colonial possessions.

Viewing the islands of the Exuma chain by plane from one thousand feet presents a glorious view of multicolored waters surrounding a chain of small desert islands.

The Bimini Islands are close enough to Florida to be reached by power boat. Each of the Bahamas has its own charm, though the lure is somewhat dimmed by heat and humidity in summer and cold snaps in winter.

Located just north of Cuba and Haiti, some of the Bahama Islands have problems with illegal immigrants from those two countries.

THE BAHAMAS Photo Gallery

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