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Freeport Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama Island is about 55 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, South Florida. Grand Bahama has also been known as Freeport at one time.The hotels and resorts have always been a great place for tropical fun and relaxation. The Casino, the beaches, and the shopping are the main reasons people flock to Grand Bahama Island. Did we mention the ecological splender of pristine beaches, national parks, fishing villages, reefs, enchanting marine life? and more. Grand Bahama is one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations. Freeport Grand Bahamas has developed into a tourist destination featuring new with exciting resorts, like Our Lucaya. With championship golf courses and outdoor sports; swimming with dolphins and diving; great cuisine and duty-free shopping; and those spectacular beachscapes, it easy to forget you are so close to the U.S. How about an all-inclusive resort called Club Viva and a charming European style resort called Pelican Bay Hotel at Lucaya. With a multitude of adventure and activities combined with the choice of resorts, Freeport Grand Bahama is the destination that has something for everyone, and Discover Island Cruises will get you there in style.

Early Spanish contact

The Spanish gave the island the name Gran Bajamar, meaning "Great Shallows", and what the eventual name of the Bahamas islands as a whole is derived from. However, the Lucayan (pre-Columbian) name for the island was Bahama. Grand Bahama's existence for almost two centuries was largely governed by the nature of these "great shallows" - the coral reefs surrounding the island were treacherous, and repelled its Spanish claimants (who largely left it alone apart from infrequent en route stops by ships for provisions) while attracting pirates, who would lure ships onto the reefs where they would run aground and be plundered. The Spaniards took little interest in the island after enslaving the native Lucayan inhabitants

British rule occupation and influence

The islands were claimed by Great Britain in 1670. Piracy continued to thrive for at least half a century after the British takeover, though the problem was eventually brought under control. Grand Bahama was to remain relatively quiet until the mid-nineteenth century, with only around 200-400 regular inhabitants in the capital, West End. In 1834, the towns of Pindera��s Point, Russell Town and Williams Town were established by former Bahamian slaves after the abolition of slavery in the British empire. The island remained under-developed until a brief boom in economic activity during the American Civil War, when it was a center for blockade runners smuggling goods (mostly weaponry, sugar and cotton) to the Confederacy. A second brief smuggling boom occurred during the years of prohibition in the USA.

Hawksbill Creek Agreement era

By about 1941, Grand Bahama's population numbered around 500 and the island was one of the least developed of the Bahamas' islands. However the island finally gained a stable source of income when in 1955 a Virginian financier named Wallace Groves began redevelopment with the Bahamian government to build the city of Freeport under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and create the Grand Bahama Port Authority Soon after, the ambitious Edward St. George, with the financial help of Sir Jack Hayward, took the company to new frontiers. Seeing the success of Cuba as a tourist destination for wealthy Americans, St. George was eager to develop Grand Bahama in a similar vein. The city grew rapidly, with St. George adding a harbour, an airport (the largest privately owned airport in the world) soon after the city was founded, and the tourist center of Port Lucaya in 1962. Grand Bahama became the second most populous island in the Bahamas (over 50,000 in 2004).

Main cities and villages

  • Freeport is the major city of Grand Bahama. As mentioned above, it holds the commercial ship harbour and the main airport.
  • Lucaya is a tourist destination on the island, with beaches and hotels.
  • West End is the oldest town, westernmost settlement, and capital of Grand Bahama island. It first achieved notoriety as a Rum-running port during Prohibition.
    In the 1950s it became home to the Jack Tar marina and club. However, over the years the marina fell into disrepair, and the whole city of West End was of little economic import to Grand Bahama. In 2001, the marina was bought out by a group which renamed it Old Bahama Bay
  • McLeans Town is the easternmost settlement and a 30-minute ferry ride from the northernmost settlement of the island of Abaco.

Please see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bahama, for more information