Eleuthera - Introduction
Eleuthera refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands.Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the smaller Harbour Island. "Eleuthera" derives from the feminine Greek adjective ἐλεύθερος (eleutheros), meaning "free".Known in the 17th century as Cigateo, it lies 80 km (50 miles) east of Nassau. It is long and thin—180 km (110 miles) long and in places little more than 1.6 km (1.0 mile) wide. Its eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, and its western side faces the Great Bahama Bank. The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs, and its population is approximately 11,000. The principle economy of the island is tourism.
Geography and wildlife
The name Eleuthera refers both to the single Bahamian island and is also used to refer to its associated chain of small islands, which include Harbour Island, Windermere Island Man Island and Current Island.Eleuthera forms part of the Great Bahama Bank on its western edge and its eastern coastline faces the Atlantic Ocean. The main island lies 80 km (50 miles) east of Nassau. It is a long and thin island; 180 km (110 miles) long and little more than 1.6 km (1.0 mile) wide at its narrowest. The island has an estimated area of 457.4 square-kilometers, and presents 336 km (210 miles) of coastline.
The topography of the island varies, including wide rolling pink sand beaches, large outcrops of ancient coral reefs, caves and other geological features. The island features, among other flora and fauna, 13 catalogued species of native amphibian and reptile species, three of which were listed as endangered in 2000. The main island is home to a 25 acre nature preserve; the Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve, which includes an environmental education centre. The waters around Eleuthera contain an abundance of Sharks and Rays, which is attributed by the local Cape Eleuthera Institute to the banning of long-line fishing in local waters.
In 2000, the official census taken by the Government of the Bahamas recorded a population of 7,999 persons on the island. In 2010, the official census recorded the population as 8,202 spread across 2,718 separate households. The 2010 census stated that population density of the island was 57.6 persons, per square mile. As of 2017 it was stated that the population of the islands were approximately 11,000.
Economy and Settlements
Settlements on the island include (north to south) the Bluff, Upper and Lower Bogue, Current, Gregory Town, Alice Town, James Cistern, Governor's Harbour, North and South Palmetto Point, Savannah Sound, Winding Bay, Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound, Greencastle, Deep Creek, Delancy Town, Waterford, Wemyss Bight, John Millars, Millar's and Bannerman Town.
The largest of the settlements are Governor's Harbour (the administrative capital), Rock Sound, Tarpum Bay, Harbour Island with its unusual pink sandy beaches and Spanish Wells. The largest settlements in terms of population in Eleuthera are Dunmore Town, Spanish Wells and Rock Sound.
There is an annual Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town. Eleuthera is a destination for those interested in Bahamian history and nature, and neighboring Harbour Island and Spanish Wells offer further tourism experiences. Natural attractions include the Glass Window Bridge, Hatchet Bay caves and Surfer's Beach in the north, and Ocean Hole and Lighthouse Beach at the south end. Preacher's Cave on the north end was home to the Eleutherian Adventurers in the mid-17th century, and recent excavations have uncovered Arawak remains at the site. As of 2000, per capita GDP for the island was: $5756 Bahamian, with a chief human economic activity being tourism, and 6% of population being involved in fishing, agriculture, or mining.