Amelia Christy: Geopolitical History of the Bahamas

To truly understand the geopolitical history of the Bahamas, one must begin in 300-400 AD when the Lucayans, a native population originally from South America, migrated to the islands to escape neighboring cannibalistic tribes. They lived peacefully on the islands for around eight hundred years until, in 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on San Salvador, one of the many islands in the Bahamas.  Shortly after the discovery, the Lucayans were enslaved primarily to mine for precious metals and dive for pearls.  Within 25 years, the native population was decimated and the English, Spanish, and French fought over the land, the English eventually taking control and establishing a democratic government on the islands in 1717.

Later, as people began fleeing Europe for religious freedom, some of the pilgrims ventured further south, and ended up in the Bahamas.  As years passed, and more people traveled to what is now the United States, the population of the Bahamas gradually grew.   The population of the Bahamas grew exponentially with the start of the American Revolution, for many American Loyalists moved with their slaves to the islands of the Bahamas to show their loyalty to the British Crown.  Throughout the next couple hundred years, the Bahamas continued to play a large role in the wars that the United States was involved in.  For example, in the American Civil War, ships were sent from the islands of the Bahamas past the naval blockade that the northern state’s navy had placed to hinder the southern states’ ability to trade cotton with the British for their tapestry industry.  As blockade runners the Bahamian people profited greatly and it vastly improved their economy.  The Bahamas also played a important role in the World Wars, especially in World War II, due to the location of the islands providing prime naval and air force access to the Atlantic.  Today, there are still missile-tracking stations on some of the outer islands that are owned and controlled by the United States.

As of July, 10th, 1973, after 325 years of British rule, the Bahamas became a free and sovereign country.  Currently, they are part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and have a parliamentary democracy framework much like that found in Britain. As for their economy, the Bahamas main sources of income are tourism, banking, cement, oil transshipment, salt and rum.