Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The city has a population of 259,300 (nearly 80 percent of the entire population of the Bahamas). Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for the Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of Nassau city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a business district. Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was considered historically to be a stronghold of pirates. The city was named after Nassau, Germany in honour of William of Orange-Nassau.
Nassau's modern growth began in the late eighteenth century, with the influx of thousands of American Loyalists and their slaves to the Bahamas following the American Revolutionary War. Many of them settled in Nassau (then and still the commerce capital of the Bahamas) and eventually came to outnumber the original inhabitants.
|POPULATION :||City: 259,300|
|FOUNDED :||Rebuilt/Renamed 1695|
|TIME ZONE :||EST (UTC−5) Summer: EDT (UTC−4)|
|LANGUAGE :||English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)|
|RELIGION :||Baptist 35.4%, Anglican 15.1%, Roman Catholic 13.5%, Pentecostal 8.1%, Church of God 4.8%, Methodist 4.2%, other Christian 15.2%, other 3.7%|
|AREA :||207 km2 (80 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||25°4′N 77°20′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.8% |
• Female: 51.2%
|ETHNIC :||black 85%, white 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%|
|AREA CODE :|
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Nassau has been recognized as a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of Crafts and Folk Art. It is one of only two Caribbean cities to receive this honor.
Downtown is the hub for all activities in Nassau. Thousands of people visit daily, to shop, dine, sightsee and to enjoy the tropical climate of the city. While the busiest part of Downtown is the Bay Street thoroughfare and the Woodes Rogers Walk, located across the street from the port and parallel to Bay, the area extends for several blocks in each direction. It starts at West Bay, around the Junkanoo Beach area. A few hotels and restaurants are located on West Bay.
The next landmark is the British Colonial Hotel, which marks the beginning of Bay Street proper. Pirates of Nassau Museum is just across from the British Colonial Hilton. The next few blocks of Bay Street are wall-to-wall boutiques, with a few restaurants and clubs interspersed throughout the retailers.
Famous historical landmarks are also in the vicinity, including Vendue House, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Nassau Public Library. Although the tourist part of Downtown peters out after about seven blocks, smaller, more local stores are found all the way down Bay Street. At this point, Bay Street becomes East Bay.
The new Straw Market is also a very busy place on a regular day. After the fire in 2001 it has been rebuilt to a new, more modern look. It consists of four sections that lead to Nassau Harbour in the back. Also in that area are many jewelry shops and bars. A next soon to be tourist hub is Pompey Square.
Cable Beach is recognised as the hotel district of Nassau. Five enormous hotels—two of which are all-inclusive—are located on this strip. The area is also known for its dining, the Crystal Palace Casino, and the golden sands of Cable Beach. Most of the area's restaurants are located either in the hotels or across the street. There is little to no nightlife. There is a bit of shopping, most of it located in the Wyndham. The commercial future of Cable Beach is being re-imagined with the development of Baha Mar, a resort and casino project that will bring more than 2,000 hotel rooms and the largest gaming and convention facility in the Caribbean to this section of New Providence Island in spring of 2015 (estimated opening date).
THINGS TO SEE:
Take a walk around Old Town, an interesting mixture of abandoned buildings and bright Caribbean structures. It doesn't take long to get away from the over-scrubbed tourist areas in the very center. Walk ten minutes uphill to the pink Parliament Building, which has a statue of an enthroned Queen Victoria out front.
Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center, Visit the Bahamas' only zoo. See the marching flamingo shows. Let the parakeets land on you as you feed them. $15.
National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, West & West Hill Streets, Opened in 2003, this showcases Bahamian art from the precolonial era to the present. The quality of art is rather uneven to say the least, but the renovated building — once the residence of the Chief Justice — is a sight in itself. Adults $5, Students/seniors $3.
Pirate Museum, Recreations of a pirate town, a pirate ship and a pirate battle, with a few real artifacts mixed in. Cheesy, but fun. Try to catch a guided tour. $12.
Fort Fincastle. A small fort built in 1793 which overlooks the city of Nassau from a small hill south of town. Several cannons are on display. Tours are conducted Monday through Sunday, 8am to 3pm.
Straw Market, Bay St. Originally a locals' market, this is now devoted to touristy bric-a-brac. If you are in the market for some souvenirs, this is the place to come. Don't be discouraged by the initial price of things, as this is the only place you can haggle for a better one. Americans don't have to worry about exchanging any money either, as US currency is accepted universally.
Potters' Cay, under the Paradise Island bridge. Best known for its fish market, and there are plenty of stalls that prepare fresh conch salad, conch fritters and other Bahamian seafood delicacies, but there's plenty of other exotic tropical produce available too.
Nassau was formerly known as Charles Town; it was burned to the ground by the Spanish in 1684. Rebuilt, it was renamed Nassau in 1695 under Governor Nicholas Trott in honour of the Dutch Stadtholder (stadhouder in Dutch) and later also King of England, Scotland and Ireland, William III from the Dutch-German House of Orange-Nassau.
The name Nassau derives from the House of Nassau and ultimately from the town of Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. Due to a lack of effective Governors (after Trott), Nassau fell on hard times. In 1703 Spanish and French allied forces briefly occupied Nassau.
From 1703 to 1718 there was no governor in the colony and by 1713, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate haven. The Governor of Bermuda stated that there were over 1,000 pirates in Nassau and that they outnumbered the mere hundred inhabitants of the town. They proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as "governors." Examples of pirates that used Nassau as their base are Charles Vane, Thomas Barrow, Benjamin Hornigold, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and the infamous Edward Teach, known as "Blackbeard".
In 1718, the British sought to regain control of the islands and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers as Royal governor. He successfully clamped down on the pirates, reformed the civil administration, and restored commerce. Rogers cleaned up Nassau and rebuilt the fort, using his own wealth to try to overcome problems. In 1720 the Spanish made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Nassau.
During the wars in the Thirteen Colonies, Nassau experienced an economic boom. With funds from privateering, a new fort, street lights and over 2300 sumptuous houses were built and Nassau was extended. In addition to this, mosquito breeding swamps were filled.
In 1776 the Battle of Nassau resulted in a brief occupation by American Continental Marines during the American War of Independence, where the Marines staged their first amphibious raid on Fort Montague after attempting to sneak up on Fort Nassau. In 1778 after an overnight invasion, American raiders led by Captain Rathburn, left with ships, gunpowder and military stores after stopping in Nassau for only two days. In 1782 Spain captured Nassau for the last time when Don Juan de Cagigal, governor-general of Cuba, attacked New Providence with 5000 men. Andrew Deveaux, an American Loyalist who resettled on the island, set forth to recapture Nassau with 220 men and 150 muskets to face a force of 600 trained soldiers. Deveaux forced the Spanish to surrender on April 17, 1783, without a single shot fired.
Lord Dunmore governed the colony from 1787 to 1796. He oversaw the construction of Fort Charlotte and Fort Fincastle in Nassau.
During the American Civil War, Nassau served as a port for blockade runners making their way to and from ports along the southern Atlantic Coast for continued trade with the Confederacy.
In the 1920s and 1930s Nassau profited from Prohibition.
Nassau features a tropical monsoon climate with relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year. Summertime temperatures reach about 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and the winter months have daytime temperatures between 23 and 27 °C (73 and 81 °F), rarely falling below 15 °C (59 °F).
Climate data for Nassau
|Average high °C (°F)||25.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||17.1|
|Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN)|
Located on New Providence Island, Nassau has an attractive harbour, a colourful blend of old world and colonial architecture, and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural beauty of the Bahamas have made Nassau a popular tourist destination.
Nassau developed directly behind the port area. New Providence provides 200 km² of relatively flat and low-lying land intersected by low ridges (none of which restricted settlement). In the centre of the island there are several shallow lakes that are tidally connected.
The city's proximity to the United States (290 km east-southeast of Miami, Florida) has contributed to its popularity as a holiday resort, especially after the United States imposed a ban on travel to Cuba in 1963. The Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property. The mega-resort employs over 6,000 Bahamians, and is the largest employer outside government.