Nassau Stronghold of Pirates

Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The city has a population of 260,000 (2008 census), nearly 80 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas (330,000). Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for The Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of Nassau city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a federal district. While there is no local government, it is governed directly as an administrative division of the national government. Nassau is considered a historical stronghold of pirates.[1]

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 (the then and still commerce capital of The Bahamas) 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, Gambier, Carmichael and Sandiland) and other islands. The largest concentration of blacks lived in the "Over-the-Hill" suburbs of Grants Town and Bain Town behind the city of Nassau, while most of the whites lived on the island's northern coastal ridges.

Nassau was formerly known as Charles Town; it was burned to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, but later rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695 in honour of the Dutch prince who became William III of England and Ireland from the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau.[2] In 1703 Spanish and French allied forces briefly occupied Nassau.


By 1713, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate haven for pirate chieftains Thomas Barrow and Benjamin Hornigold proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as "governors", and were joined by Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and Edward Teach, the infamous "Blackbeard", along with women pirates such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

In 1718, the British sought to regain control of the islands and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers as Royal governor. He successfully clamped down on the pirates, reformed the civil administration and restored commerce. Rogers cleaned up Nassau and rebuilt the fort, even going as far to use his own money to try to overcome problems. In 1720 the French made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Nassau.
Atlantis Resort dominates the Skyline of Nassau and it is the first high rise building ever constructed in the country

In 1776 the Battle of Nassau resulted in a brief occupation by the Americans during the American War of Independence: in 1778 an overnight invasion saw the Americans leaving with ships, gunpowder and military stores after remaining in Nassau for only two days. In 1782 Spain captured Nassau for the last time when Don Juan de Cagigal, governor-general of Cuba attacked New Providence with 5000 men. An American loyalist named Andrew Deveaux set forth to recapture Nassau with only 220 men and 150 muskets to face a force of 600 trained soldiers. Deveaux forced the Spanish to surrender on April 17, 1783, without a single shot fired. This marked the last time that a foreign flag was to fly over the Bahamian capital.

Lord Dunmore governed the colony from 1787 to 1796 and oversaw the construction of Fort Charlotte in Nassau.

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