The Bahamas Overview: Population
Courtesy of U.S. Dept. of State
The preliminary statistics from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing placed the total resident population of the Bahamas at 304,913. The statistics show that New Providence (where Nassau is located) has a population of 212,432, accounting for 69.66% of the population and representing a 23.83% increase in population compared to the 1990 census. Grand Bahama, with the second largest population, has 46,954 persons representing 15.40% of the population, an increase of 14.42% in population compared to the 1990 census. Abaco follows with a population of 13,174 or 4.32% of the population, Andros with 7,815, and Eleuthera with 8,114 accounting for 2.56% and 2.66%, respectively. Exuma had 3,575 persons and 1.17% of the total population, while Long Island with 2,945 persons had less than 1% of the population.
The Lucayan Indians, a branch of the Arawaks, discovered the islands in the ninth century AD. Some 600 years later, on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World on San Salvador Island. Some studies by historians have disputed the San Salvador theory however, and suggest that the landfall may have occurred at Samana Cay instead. Spanish adventurers followed Columbus to The Bahamas and soon shipped the remaining Lucayan population as slaves to the mines in Cuba and Santo Domingo, where the race eventually became extinct.
The islands were the setting for several attempts at establishing colonies of religious refugees, including the Eleutheran Adventurers. Although they all ultimately failed, many family names in The Bahamas derive from these seventeenth century English settlers.
Most Bahamians are of mixed African and European descent. Of the European portion of the population, 90% are descendants of early British and American settlers, most notably loyalists from New York, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The Bahamas also has a considerable Greek community. Most are second and third generation Bahamians, whose descendents came to the islands as sponge fishermen. English is universally spoken in the Bahamas.
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