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The Bahamas, officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an archipelago comprised of over 700 islands and cays, situated in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispanola, and south-east of the USA. The Bahamas has a total land area of 13,878 km2 spanning more than 250,000km2 of ocean.

The Bahamas was first settled by the Lucayans, a branch of the Taino indigenous peoples, who migrated from South America and settled much of the Caribbean region. These people populated much of The Bahamas for nearly 800 years (c. 700 –c. 1500 CE) until their near extinction upon the arrival of European explorers to the Americas. In 1492, Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus is credited with the re-discovery of the Americas when he landed at San Salvador, The Bahamas.

The first permanent European settlement in The Bahamas was established by a group of English settlers from Bermuda called the Company of Eleutheran Adventurers, who organised a community on what is now the island of Eleuthera in 1647, seeking religious freedom.

During the late 1600s to early 1700s, many privateers and pirates came to The Bahamas, the most famous ones being Blackbeard and Calico Jack. There were also female pirates like Anne Bonny and Mary Read disguised as men.

The shallow waters and 700 islands made great hiding places for treasure, and its close proximity to well-travelled shipping lanes made The Bahamas the perfect spot to steal from merchant ships. There are rumours of hidden treasure that still exist today. It is believed that British pirate William Catt buried loot on Cat Island and Sir Henry Morgan, a wealthy privateer, buried treasure throughout the islands. The power of the buccaneers was crushed by Woodes Rogers, the first Royal Governor, who established orderly conduct in 1718 when The Bahamas became a British crown colony.

The Bahamas achieved independence from the United Kingdom on July 10, 1973, and is now a fully self-governing constitutional monarchy, holding membership within inter alia the Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations, the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States.


National Symbols


The Flag

The design of the Bahamian flag is a black equilateral triangle against the mast superimposed on a horizontal background made up of two colours on three equal stripes, aquamarine, gold and aquamarine.

 Black, a strong colour, represents the vigour and force of a united people; the triangle pointing represents the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop and process the rich resources of land and sea, symbolised by gold and aquamarine, respectively.


The Coat of Arms  

The Bahamas’ coat of arms is a composition of things indigenous to these islands, while the motto “Forward Upward Onward Together” heralds to the direction and manner in which the Bahamian nation should move.

The crest of the arms, a light pink conch shell, symbolises the marine life of The Bahamas. The top of the crest is composed of wavy green palm fronds, symbolic of the natural vegetation. The Santa Maria, flagship of Christopher Columbus, appears on the shield of the coat of arms. Wavy barrulets of blue symbolise the waters of The Bahamas.

The shield is charged with a resplendent or radiant sun to signify the world-famous balmy resort climate, and it also connotes the bright future of these islands. A flamingo, the national bird, and a silvery blue marlin support the shield. The national motto is draped across the base of the coat of arms.

There was a national competition to produce the motto for the coat of arms, and the competition was won by two 11-year-old schoolchildren – Vivian F. Moultrie of Inagua Public School and Melvern B. Bowe of the Government High School in Nassau. Bahamian artist Hervis Bain prepared the preliminary design of the coat of arms.