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Lifestyle and People in the Bahamas

Eighty-five percent of the Bahamian population is of African heritage (black). About two-thirds of the population reside on New Providence Island (the location of Nassau). Many ancestors arrived in the Bahama Islands when they served as a staging area for the slave trade in the early 1800s. Others accompanied thousands of British loyalists who fled the American colonies during the Revolutionary War. Though in terms of color the majority of Bahamians have relations with the Negroes who presently inhabit Africa, in terms of ideas, the Bahamas is primarily Western, by choice. Though many of the native festivals — such as Junkanoo — have a tribal African flavor (but, these “ways of celebrating” are morally non-essential).

Bahamians are modern in terms of speech, education and knowledge of the world–unlike some Americans, Bahamians do know where the Bahamas is on the map–“next to the country of Miami” (just kidding, Bahamians are pretty seasoned in world geography given that tourism is such a vital business here).

The dominant religion in the Bahamas is Christianity, with a church dotting nearly every other street, though all religions are freely tolerated. Though the people of the Bahamas consider the Bahamas to a “Christian Country” in practice this is not really the case, as many children are born to ‘illegitimate’ parents, i.e., out of marriage (in some years it is the majority of births).

The native language is English–with of course some colorful and charming native “improvements” (falsely termed mis-pronunciations by outsiders ;).

Life is hectic in Nassau–and parts of Freeport–and is slow and “laid back” everywhere else.

The weather is perfect, and their is all the conveniences of Modern Life (electricity, running water, and air conditioning), combined with clean air and beautiful beaches. Truly, the Bahamas is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Much talk is made of Bahamians having a “relaxed attitude”, although sometimes this is a cover up for laziness. There is nothing wrong with relaxation, especially after a hard day at work. But, if you ever tried to get service from the Batelco phone monopoly (two months to fix my home phone and their office is about two miles away when this was written) you know what I mean. What is worse–in industries that are “protected” from competition, and or heavily unionized– the attitude tends to get worse. Don’t even get me started about the teachers in public schools who run personal errands when they are being paid to teach.

The main reason to blame for this, is in part the Bahamas’ ever-growing welfare state and the public mis-education system which rewards such an attitude: you can have a child and the government will pay for it (i.e. the people who work, pay for your child through duties, taxes, etc.). The result our kids with maybe one parent or less! And as a solution the government decides to expand the welfare state!

However, “laziness” does not describe all Bahamians: most Bahamians I know are hard working and honest. Unfortunately, the Bahamian government’s slowly expanding ‘socialistic’ policies tend to punish the hardworking to support the moochers, leading to an expanding ‘class’ of social parasites.

In fact, out of all Caribbean countries the Bahamas has perhaps one of the best labor forces. Literacy is the highest in the Caribbean, and overall the people are very friendly.

People in the Bahamas: By The Numbers

Nationality: Noun and adjective–Bahamian(s).
Population (2000): 304,913.
Annual growth rate (2000): 1.7%.
Racial groups: African 85%, European 12%, Asian and Hispanic 3%.
Religious affiliation: Baptist predominant (32%), Roman Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical Protestants, Methodist, Church of God.
Language: English; some Creole among Haitian groups.
Education: Years compulsory–through age 16. Attendance–95%. Literacy–93%.
Health (2000): Infant mortality rate–17.0/1,000. Life expectancy–73.9 years.
Work force (2000): 157,640; majority employed in the tourism, government, and financial services sectors.