Lying just east and southeast of southern Florida are seven hundred islands and cays known as the Bahamas. Some thirty of these islands are inhabited. With a history of three hundred years of former British rule, they represent the third oldest parliamentary democracy in the western hemisphere - after Bermuda and Barbados. When Columbus first landed on the small island which he named San Salvador (also known as Watlin's Island) on October 12, 1492, he found a tribe of people called Arawaks, whom he named "Indians," because he thought he had reached the East indies. The Arawaks were a peaceful people who had come from the Guianas and Venezuela in South America way of the islands of the Caribbean. Columbus and the Spanish conquistadores who came later made slaves of the peaceful Arawaks and used them in their search for gold. Arawaks died by the thousands in the mines of Hispanola and Cuba. Later, when the Arawaks proved too frail for the backbreaking work, African slaves replaced them.
Please click the above PDF icon(s) to view or download the full Magazine Article in PDF format.