Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the country. Over 70% (about 250,000 people) of the entire population of the country live and work in Nassau, so you can imagine just how crowded that makes the island which is only 21 X 7 miles!
Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for The Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of Nassau, and has daily flights to major cities in the UK, US, Canada and the Caribbean. Its currently undergoing a complete renovation, however, is still rather small by international standards, so expect your arrival to be lengthy by comparison.
The city is located on the island of New Providence, and is the main business district. Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was historically a stronghold of pirates.
Nassau's modern growth began just over 200 years ago with the influx of thousands of American Loyalists and enslaved Africans to the Bahamas following the American War of Independence. Many of them settled in Nassau and eventually came to outnumber the original inhabitants.
As the population of Nassau grew, so did the built-up areas. Today the city dominates the entire island and its satellite, Paradise Island. However, until the post-Second World War era, the outer suburbs scarcely existed. Most of New Providence was uncultivated bush until the loyalists came in the 1780s and established several plantations such as Clifton and Tusculum. When the British abolished the international slave Trade in 1807, thousands of liberated Africans freed from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled on New Providence (at Adelaide Village and Gambier Village) along with other islands such as, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Abaco and Inagua. The largest concentration of Africans lived in the “Over-the-Hill” suburbs of Grants Town and Bain Town to the south of the city of Nassau, while most of the European descent inhabitants lived on the island's northern coastal ridges.
Today it is the most travelled to destination in The Bahamas. With resorts like Atlantis and the developing BahaMar (Cable Beach), it is highly commercial and crowded. Most of the beaches are reserved for tourists with smaller more secluded beaches known mostly to residents. There is practically a church and a bar on almost every corner and the downtown nightlife usually carries on until the wee hours of the morning.
In recent years the government has finally opened up historic Fort Charlotte to tourism and though it’s a bit sparse, it is worth seeing. Overlooking the harbour, you can see most of Paradise Island and the cruise ships at dock.
There’s something for everyone in Nassau. Historic sites and museums, shopping, nightlife, excursions, sports and the ubiquitous sun, sand and sea. It’s a strange blend of the old and the new, but without the charm of the old towns in the Family Islands.
It’s a place where the rich and famous blend into the lifestyle with ease and without having to worry about being pestered. It’s rich in history and infamous for its less desirables as well. The pirate mentality exists with a vengeance and you should take care when travelling anywhere on the island. As much as we like to welcome you to our home you should probably stay in the more commercial areas for safety reasons.